5. Hire the right fit
Interviewing and hiring sales professionals can be efficient, or it can be effective. You really must take your time and improve the effectiveness of your hires. Don’t fall into the trap of making pressure hires. Most of the time, you will regret rushing the process and making snap decisions. Especially decisions that are based on experience. Don’t get me wrong; experience is a plus but not always a must. If you take an inventory of the traits and competencies of your best sales team members, use that as your guide. What are some of the traits?
Communication, Ability to Connect with others, Team Work, Work Ethic, Listening Skills, Coachable, Rejection-Proof, and being Adaptable. Notice experience is not noted. One of the best salespeople I ever had was a truck driver prior to moving into sales. Making the experience a “nice to have” not a “must-have” avoids having to break your new hire of bad habits. My experience has taught me that when you do hire someone who starts showing problems early, they don’t get better with time. They only get worse. Then they are the hardest in the world to separate from. Believe me on this. I have the bruises to show you.
Remember, effective hiring is key. Take it slow and do it right. Learn from previous mistakes and avoid them as you are reviewing candidates. Hiring slow is a part of my “Secret Sauce” to building world-beating sales teams. Hire the person, not the experience.
The ability to hire quality talent will determine the success or failure of the sales organization. Seventy-two percent of high performing sales managers rated the sales team they manage as excellent or above average, compared to 54% for underperforming sales managers.
Conversely, 46% of underperforming sales managers rated their team as average or below average, while only 28% of high performing sales managers thought so. High-performing sales managers focus on hiring salespeople who are skillful builders of relationships, are persuasive, and have a reservoir of experience they use to control sales cycles.
- Use the “Ultimate Interview Guide” I offer
- Use the pre-employment sales assessment I offer
- Hire the quality of a person, not the experience of the person.
- Advertise for the right person, not the job description
- Hire the person or personality you want, not experience
- Hire Slowly and effectively
- Establish reasonable metrics to make sure they know what is expected of them daily.
- Get some sales management training.
- Contact me at com for more information on Results Driven Sales Management Training. This training is a solid cure for underperforming sales teams. Believe me, you don’t know what you don’t know. Let’s fill in some gaps.
4. Sales intuition
Being a sales manager, you have to be empathetic to the life and frustrations of a salesperson. In my article on the “Proper Care and Feeding of a Salesperson,” I offer that 90% of a sales professional’s success is mental. Keep their head right, and sales will be at a higher performance level. Get them fixated mentally on how they have been wronged or mistreated and you have an anchor. The best ones can pull themselves out of a slump, but that’s the top 2% only. The rest fixate and are highly influenced by their mindset. They talk amongst themselves, and that only builds the frustration and lets the air out of their drive. Salespeople can be the biggest gossips on the planet. Don’t give them negative food to feed on. Provide them with high-performance mental food, then stand back and enjoy the benefits. Is that a contradiction to accountability? NO! Not if you are treating everyone with the same level of expectation.
If you are truly value-added to the success of a salesperson, they will kill for you. They will go through walls and not doors. In 100% of the interviews I’ve conducted for salespeople when I ask, “Who is the best boss you ever had?” the response is around the manager who taught them the most. Are you a mentor, teacher, advocate, supporter, etc.? They have to believe sincerely that the sales manager is their biggest fan. People work for people, not companies. If they are unhappy, it’s the manager’s fault. If they quit, they quit the manager, not the company.
The sale is a mentorship-based profession, and a key differentiator of great sales leaders is their ability to dispense tactical sales advice and add value during customer meetings. While the average sales experience for both high-performing and underperforming sales managers was 17 years, high-performing sales managers estimated they had achieved their annual quota 88% of the time over the course of their career. Underperforming sales managers indicated they had achieved their quota 75% of the time. This suggests that the depth of a manager’s sales intuition—the practical knowledge gained from the experiences of participating in sales cycles and managing salespeople—is directly associated with their success.
Great sales leaders understand that there is a diversity of selling styles by which salespeople can achieve success. Therefore, they don’t employ a one-size-fits-all coaching style. Rather, they adapt their style to suit each individual. The fact that high-performing sales managers had a higher team effectiveness factor than underperforming teams supports these statements. Give them the idea and have them form how to adapt it to their style. As long as they are successful. If their way is not working, you must have them adapt. There’s an old term in sales. “Let Loose in order to take hold.” If you allow them the empowerment to do things with their style, you dramatically increase buy-in from the team. This is one of those entries from the high-performance food group.
When faced with challenges or difficulty don’t ever leave the sales team out from sharing their opinions on how to address those challenges. Granted, some of their ideas will be a bit extreme or unaffordable. They are sales professionals, not financial professionals. Just asking and seeking their input is a huge motivation for sales team members. Use what you can from what they suggest. However, if there is a strong suggestion that is not possible, tell them the “Why.” Don’t ever leave that suggestion hanging. That is negative food.