It used to be that sales was a hands-on process that all but mandated our sales professionals meet buyers in the field of combat. Hiding behind a phone or an email might be useful at the top of the funnel, but landing the buyer and getting the deal was very much a face-to-face affair.
Enter 2020, and a global pandemic. In-person dealings were all but eliminated, and a handshake was now redefined as an exchange of bacteria rather than a means of sealing the deal.
Given the seismic shifts in the marketplace, your sales organization should also evolve to meet buyers where they want to be met in the sales cycle.
At the top of the list: An intentional sales hiring strategy, defined by key competencies that are “must-haves” when evaluating new talent. After all, your sellers represent your company and what it means to do business with you.
In fact, in HubSpot’s 2020 State of Sales report, they say a willingness to learn and great communication skills are as important as foundational sales knowledge in gaining traction in today’s marketplace. With 77 percent of sales professionals indicating that their meetings are all virtual, it’s easy to see why.
Of course, there are some other fundamentals that are a key part of a winning formula — essentials that translate to high sales performance. Let’s take a look at the key competencies that every sales manager should look for in hiring their next field sales titan.
What are Key Competencies?
Key competencies are specific personality traits or attributes that your company has decided are critical to success in a particular position.
Competencies are often referred to as soft skills or personal skills. While they can be more difficult to measure than hard skills, competencies have a big impact on a candidate’s ability to achieve success in a sales position.
At The Brooks Group, we often think of personal skills as the “professional polish” of a sales rep. Will the person in question be able to accurately evaluate a situation and make the best decision? Or will they be inefficient, ineffective, and struggle to communicate with internal and external customers?
The difference often comes down to their competencies, or personal skills.
Determine Which Competencies Are Critical to Your Position
Every position is unique, and will require a unique set of behaviors, motivators, and key competencies for success.
Before you begin your search for a sales candidate, sit down with the members of your team who understand the position the best. This might include the role’s direct manager, leaders, or people currently in a similar role.
Come to a consensus on what an ideal candidate will look like—including the key competencies they should possess.
The Brooks Group has a team of talent management experts who can work with you to develop a position benchmark (ideal candidate profile) so you can find a candidate who is the right fit.
Identifying key competencies is just a part of this process. The system looks at 23 different competencies which are listed below:
|Accountability for Others||Empathetic Outlook||Planning and Organization|
|Conceptual Thinking||Flexibility||Problem Solving|
|Conflict Management||Goal Achievement||Resiliency|
|Continuous Learning||Influencing Others||Results Orientation|
|Customer Focus||Interpersonal Skills||Self-Management|
|Decision Making||Leading Others||Self-Starting Ability|
|Developing Others||Objective Listening||Teamwork|
|Diplomacy & Tact||Personal Accountability|
Of course, not every job will require every one of these competencies. Determining the most critical competencies and then hiring to match is a best practice for sales organizations who want to grow a team of high performers.
Trends in Key Competencies for Sales Representatives in Today’s Marketplace
Different competencies will be more or less important depending on the goals of the sales position. Do you need a friendly farmer-type, or a more aggressive, hunter-type sales rep? Will the salesperson be cold calling, or building strategic relationships with high-level contacts?
Other considerations may include:
- The short and long-term goals of your sales organization
- Your organization’s sales strategy
- New challenges or disruptors in your industry
- The day-to-day selling activities of your sales force
- How compensation is structured
- And more
Based on the hundreds of clients we consult with each month for sales hiring and talent management needs, we’ve found a handful of competencies that seem to be trending for today’s increasingly complex marketplace.
Key Competencies for Sales Representatives We’re Seeing More and More of Today:
- Planning and Organization – The ability to establish a process for activities that lead to the implementation of systems, procedures or outcomes
- Results Orientation – The ability to identify actions necessary to complete tasks and obtain results
- Goal Achievement – The overall ability to set, pursue, and attain achievable goals, regardless of obstacles or circumstances
- Flexibility – The ability to readily modify, respond to, and integrate change with minimal personal resistance
- Data Analysis – The ability to to read and analyze data (according to LinkedIn, about half of sales organizations are currently relying on data to understand closed-lost deal patterns and 56% of teams use data to drive their prospecting efforts)
- Customer Focus – Commitment to customer satisfaction
These highly sought-after competencies speak to the need for sales professionals today to juggle more as purchasing decisions are becoming increasingly complex. Today’s high-performing sales rep must be skilled at navigating buying committees with multiple decision makers—and keeping track of it all while maintaining their cool.
Above all, sales reps must keep a consistent focus on the customer, and provide value at every interaction. This type of value-based selling is more important now than ever before, and should be something your organization prioritizes.
Develop a Blueprint for Sales Success with the Benchmarking Process
The key to sourcing top sales talent is figuring out exactly what your open sales position requires for success—and selecting a candidate that’s naturally wired for those requirements.
Job benchmarking alleviates the guesswork involved in the hiring process by providing objective measurements and identifying the candidate most likely to excel in your organization—today and into the future.
Begin the process of benchmarking your open position by requesting a strategy session with one of our hiring experts.
We’ve all experienced “Hirer’s Remorse”—the sinking feeling you get when someone you thought was a perfect candidate turns out to be less than that. Job benchmarking allows you to objectively identify talent that is matched to the requirements, motivators, and culture associated with the job.