On this episode, Paul continues his focus on sales leaders and coaches.
“You need to hire for the _________, not the _________ .”
Look at your _______________ to create a profile of what you’re looking for.
Don’t wait until you have to fill a position.
Tap your top achievers for referrals of potential team members.
Do you spend enough time recruiting?
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How do I recruit the best salespeople?
(Transcribed from podcast)
On today’s episode, we’re going to talk about recruiting salespeople. You know, over the past couple of sessions, there’s been kind of a theme here where we’ve been focusing on sales coaches, sales leaders, so, we’re going to continue that progression today and talk about recruiting the best salespeople. This actually came from a conversation I had with a sales manager with an industrial distribution company just a few short days ago. And, our question really focused on training, but eventually it got into recruiting and he said, “Hey, what advice do you have on recruiting and finding the right salespeople?” So, that’s what we’re going to focus on today’s episode is How do I recruit the best salespeople?
Before we get into that though, quick shout-out to Andrea over at The Creative Impostor Studios. The Creative Impostor Studios is your go-to resource for setting up a podcast, launching a podcast, continuing a podcast that you might already have. Andrea and her team do a wonderful job. They’re there to serve. I mean, they really help their clients. So, reach out to her. We’re going to have a link to her website on this episode’s webpage.
Also, in our latest edition of Value-Added Selling, we have a profile of what top-achieving salespeople look like: what they do, how they plan. And we highlight that throughout the book. So, if you’re a sales leader reading this book and you want to build a team of top performers, check out the book, we’ve got a whole profile in there for you.
Let’s get back to that question: How do I recruit and hire the best salespeople? First things first, you need to hire for the position, not the person. And that means you don’t necessarily need the best salesperson, you need the best salesperson for that position that you’re hiring for.
Here’s what I mean. Let’s say, okay, here I am in St. Louis. You know, the St. Louis Cardinals, right now, they’re looking to build their team up. Let’s say the GM says, “You know what? This year, we need more bats. We need more bats. We don’t need the best player. We just need more bats.” So, when they’re going out there, they’re not going to try to hire the best position player, they’re looking for the best hitter. They’re looking for the best player for that position. They hire and recruit for the position first. Then they look at the player.
You need to do the same thing. Ask yourself, ‘What type of position player do we need? Do I need a salesperson that is going to protect business that we already have? Do I need more of an account manager type of role where they’re going to interact with existing customers and try to grow? Or do I need a salesperson who’s going to be aggressive, that’s going to go out there and bring in new accounts? Is that going to be their focus?’ The key is, we want to hire for the position, not just for the player. Because we don’t want to take, let’s say, a salesperson who purely wants to call on existing customers and then tell them, “Okay, your new role is to go out there and find new prospects. You’re only going to call on new prospects.” They’re not going to be happy in that role. They might not perform well.
Now, there’s a good chance that some of you expect a little bit of both. Do you expect your salespeople to go out there and call on existing customers as well as go out there and find new prospects? And you know, this is the whole dilemma that I hear quite a bit saying, “Okay, do we need more hunters, or do we need farmers?” People love using that analogy of, “Are they a hunter or are they a farmer?” You know, the ironic part is that some of the best hunters I know—literally the best hunters I know—are also some of the best farmers that I know. They are actual farmers, and they go out there and hunt and they’re pretty darn good at both. So, I might be the contrarian, but I believe you can find a salesperson that will do both and it resorts to coaching and guiding them and help setting that expectation. So, keep in mind, number one–you’ve got to hire for the right position first, then you look at the person.
Number two–make a list of what that salesperson has to have versus what you can teach them. Every good salesperson, they have that raw material makeup, and you need to determine what that actually is. You need to create a profile of what you’re looking for. And in order to do that, what I’d recommend doing is looking at your best salespeople you have right now. Look at your top performers that you have managed over the previous years and ask yourself, “Okay, what are the things that all of these top achievers have in common?” And, hopefully, you can come up with two or three, maybe four pieces of criteria. That’s the raw material that you’re looking for. And when you’re recruiting salespeople, you look for that raw material. If they have those things, they have the potential to be your next top performer. But if they don’t, they probably will not be able to be your next top performer.
So, look at that raw material. Find out what it is, and everything else they don’t have you can teach them along the way, or maybe it’s not that important. So, keep that in mind, make a list of what they have to have, and you can find that list by looking at your best people already.
Third tip for recruiting the best salespeople–the absolute worst time to try to find a salesperson is when you have to hire a salesperson. When you have a vacant territory, when you have lost someone whether because they left your company or you forced them to leave, whatever it might be, the absolute worst time to fill a spot is when you have to fill a spot because you become a little more lenient, you become a little more desperate to fill that spot.
I remember one of the greatest recruiting lessons I ever learned was when I sold in the tool and fastener industry. They just went through a round of hirings. I was like the last of their hiring spree. And so, we had a full team, a team that wasn’t full for two or three years. They were constantly looking to try to fill positions. Finally, they filled the last spot, but our manager at the time, he continued to interview, he continued to recruit people. In fact, he continued to recruit and interview people so often that some of the veteran salespeople got a little nervous. They thought, ‘Man, we’ve got a full team. Why does he keep interviewing people? What? Are we on the chopping block? Are we next?’
And so, they actually talked to him about it and he said, “No, no.” He goes, “I’m just looking to fill our bench strength.” He goes, “We don’t want to be in the position that we were in the past couple of years. If we can find a great candidate, we want to know who they are. And if we don’t have a spot available for them, I’m going to try to make a spot available for them. If I can’t make a spot available for them, I’m going to call some of my colleagues, my other regional managers and see if they could have a spot for them. The key is we have to have an inflow of good people.” That’s a manager that gets it right. You’re always recruiting. You’re always hiring, even if your positions are already filled. Okay. So, you’re always recruiting.
Last but not least, let’s look at point number four. If you’re trying to fill your team with great people, then ask the great people already on your team who they know. There’s a great quote– Jim Rowan, famous motivational speaker, number of years ago, he said that you are the average of the five people that you hang around with the most. So, if you want more of the great people, you already have, go to them, talk to them, ask them, “Hey, who do you know that would be a good fit within our company?” And don’t get hung up on how much sales experience they have, or industry experience or anything like that. Remember, they will have that raw material that you’re looking for.
So, talk to your, colleagues and leadership; talk to your top sales performers; talk to the best of each employee at that level and ask them, “Hey, who else do you know that would be a good fit here at our company?” The more you ask this question, the more you’re going to find great people. That’s the key is we want to make sure that we are going out there, that we’re getting those referrals from the top people within our organization.
One last thought as we close things out here today. For the sales managers, sales leaders, listening to this call, how many of you wish your salespeople would go out there and prospect more? I’m sure there’s a plenty of hands going up there right now as you’re driving, as you’re thinking about it. Well, here’s something to consider: the managerial equivalent of your salespeople prospecting is you recruiting salespeople. You know, we tell salespeople—top performers—that you have to spend a certain amount of time every single week prospecting for new opportunities. In fact, our research shows that top achievers spend 20 percent of their time recruiting new opportunities, prospecting. Use that as a benchmark. How much of your time do you spend going out there finding new salespeople to bring into your organization? If you’re not spending 20 percent of your time doing that, maybe you need to dedicate a little more time.
Make it a big day.