In March, I gave you five ways to upgrade your sales force. Hiring top performing sales people is tougher and tougher every day, largely because past performance in the days of rapid growth and cherry picking orders doesn’t predict future excellence. As business owners and sales managers, you need to constantly be on the lookout for great talent, continually raising the bar for your company. These ideas will force you to look past the resume and inside the candidate in front of you.
- Can they talk about money comfortably and easily? If they can’t, how will they ever discuss accurate budgets with prospects—let alone current clients? Ask them questions like, “How much did you earn last year?” Watch for stammering, avoidance, and honesty in their response. If he lacks confidence and comfort in the money conversation, he’ll stammer or avoid the answer. If he’s overly honest and blunt, will he be nurturing enough with prospects uncomfortable talking about budgets?
When it comes to honesty in past earnings, we’re looking for several things. First, are her earning requirements realistic for our position? The number one reason people leave a company is lack of growth potential. Make sure you can keep her challenged with further salary growth, in addition to personal growth, for years to come. Second, what was the formulation for the salary? Was it 100 percent commission, 100 percent salary, or another combination? This will help when asking her about her key performance indicators or behaviors.
- What’s her current ratio of calls, appointments, and sales? In my last column I mentioned Sandler’s Rule of 3. It takes three questions to get to the real truth. Keep digging because you want to discover if her behavior levels and ratios match the requirements of her previous earnings. You also want to find out what her comfort level is in prospecting behaviors. Will that number of contacts be adequate to take this person to the top position of your company? If you aren’t upgrading, you’re downgrading. This is another reason to use the proper assessment tools. Proper assessment tools help you establish an objective bar with which to measure.
- What’s his money concept? By this I mean, what’s a large sum of money to him? Consider this: an average sale or contract for your company averages more than $10,000. Your new salesperson considers a major purchase to be anything over $200. How is he going to hold margins in front of a prospect? He may develop creative financing to fit his budgets—not the prospect’s budget. How do you find out what his money concept is? Ask him what his last big purchase was, and then ask him how he went about buying it.
- What is his “buy cycle?” This uncovers some of his hidden traits that will explain why salespeople don’t use the skills and techniques they have. “Buy cycle” is how he makes a major purchase. The way people buy is directly related to the way they sell. Let’s use Jim as an example. Say Jim sells office copiers. Jim knows his sales system so well he can role-play in his sleep. However, Jim hasn’t had such a great couple of years, so a $700 refrigerator is a major purchase. He spent nights online matching options and specifications of the latest and greatest models. He combed weeks of Sunday newspaper advertisements. He took weekend family trips to every appliance store to stick his head inside the refrigerators and see how accessible the coils were. He finally found the model, brand, and color that fit his home after two months of searching and pondering.
Now, Jim is in front of a prospect that needs, wants, and can afford Jim’s best copier. Only the prospect says, “Jim, you’re the first company we’ve talked to about this purchase. We like you and think you’ve done a great job here, but we need to think about this and ask around to see what your competitors have to offer.” At some level, Jim thinks to himself, “That makes sense. I would too.” So Jim lets them go and another one swirls down the drain.
What hidden weaknesses or head trash are your current people hauling around with them? What about your new candidates? Change your current hiring system to find out before it’s too late. IBI