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Hiring Salespeople

Hiring Salespeople

Author: Orrin Broberg

Determine the profile of the type of sales person you need to hire based upon the type of relationship you have with your customers and the sales operating process your company uses.

By examining your organization's relationship with its clients and the processes used in the sales organization, you can determine the key characteristicis of the sales candidates that will have the best fit and the most success.

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What if sales was this easy?

If selling your product was this easy, you wouldn't need salespeople. In the real world, this doesn't happen very often. This is why your company needs to find salespeople that will get the job done for you. It is not just a matter of finding the best salespeople, it is a matter of finding the right salespeole that fit your company's needs.

Source: YouTube

Why Is Fit So Important?

Source: EmployeeContinuum file

Two Dimensions for Determining What Kind of Salesperson is the Right Fit: Your Client Relationships and Sales Processes


The initial thing that you will need to do as part of your needs analysis work with the sales organization in your company is help the sales leadership define two things: first, help them understand where they currently are in relationship to this matrix and then if they are not currently functioning at the desired level of performance, the second step will be to help them determine exactly where they need to migrate - in order to maximize their sales performance.

To facilitate this discussion, you should ask your sales leadership to determine which of the following statements best reflects the relationship they have with their clients:



Source: EmployeeContinuum/CSO Insights

1) Approved Vendor:

We are seen by the majority of our customers as a legitimate provider of the products or services we offer, but are not recognized for having any significant competitive edge over other alternative offerings. We therefore often compete on price, via discounting, as a key consideration to helping close a deal.

(An example here could be Dell in the personal computer marketplace. They are most often viewed as one of a number of vendors that a company can buy reliable PCs from, but rarely seen as unique.)

Source: EmployeeContinuum/CSO Insights

2) Preferred Supplier:

Based on our marketplace reputation/past dealings with our customers, we are normally seen as the preferred vendor for them to do business with. While competitors may offer alternative offerings, all things being considered equal we win the deal in the lion’s share of the deals over the competition.

(An example today would be in the CRM software space. Their reputation is such that when firms are looking at SaaS-based applications, the competition often has to create a significant advantage in the eyes of the customer to get the deal.)

Source: EmployeeContinuum/CSO Insights

3) Solutions Consultant:

Based on a specific set of product-related, value-add knowledge or services we bring to the table, our customers view us as not only a vendor, but a consulting resource on how to best use our products or services, as well. Because of this, during brief periods when our offerings may not be as robust or are more expensive than those of the competition, our customers will continue to buy from us because they consider the premium we bring to the table when making their final choice.

(An example here would be MidMark in the medical products space, in addition to selling a wide variety of products medical facilities use in their practice; they also offer specific advice on new ways that doctors can leverage those products to maximize revenues.)

Source: EmployeeContinuum/CSO Insights

4) Strategic Contributor:

Above and beyond the products and services we offer, our customers view us as a source of strategic planning assistance for dealing with broader-based business challenges they are currently dealing with. Based on this, we are regularly brought into business discussions that are above and beyond our products, to help the clients develop or implement key business strategies. This strategic focus often allows us to sole-bid deals, even though competitors may offer similar products.

(An example here would be Hewlett Packard’s “Creatology” group which constantly identifies what other assets, besides the products that HP possesses, that the clients could leverage in their businesses – i.e. processes, relationships, intellectual property, etc.)

Source: EmployeeContinuum/CSO Insights

5) Trusted Partner:

At this highest level we are seen as a long-term partner whose contributions; products, insights, processes, etc., are seen as critical to the long-term success of their clients. Based on this, the occurrences of our clients seriously considering a competitive offering are next to nil.

(An example here would be GE aircraft and firms like Boeing, who are co-betting their businesses on the mutual success of long-term, multi-year relationship.)

Source: EmployeeContinuum/CSO Insights

Next Step, Identifying Your Sales Organization's Processes

Going through the thought process of defining the types of relationships you currently have with your customers provides part of the perspective you need to consider in determining what the best profile is for the sales professionals you want to bring on board, but not the whole picture. Another dynamic to consider is the type of processes your sales organization utilizes to work with your clients.

Based on benchmarking work of the past decade, most sales organizations fit into one of four classes in this regard:

Source: EmployeeContinuum/CSO Insights

1. Random Process:

These firms may be perceived as having no process, though what they really lack is a single standard process. They are generally random in their approach to sales with everyone in the sales organization doing their own thing, their own way and often have as many sales processes as sales reps. Having a Random Process does not mean a company is unsuccessful, but it does mean it is unpredictable.

Source: EmployeeContinuum/CSO Insights

2. Tribal Wisdom Process:

Here we see firms that rely on an informal sales process which salespeople are exposed to, but the formality of the implementation stops there. Sales reps may be expected to adopt the process, but its use is neither monitored nor measured. According to our survey results this describes nearly half of all firms.

Source: EmployeeContinuum/CSO Insights

3. Formal Process:

At this level we find firms that have gone down the process adoption path and have a method of selling that is formally defined and strictly enforced. These firms typically do monitor use of the process, sometimes religiously so, but because the review process is often a backward looking view, these firms are still susceptible to miscues and missteps in a constantly changing market.

Source: EmployeeContinuum/CSO Insights

4. Dynamic Process:

Finally, these firms have not only committed to a formal process, but they dynamically monitor it as well. This allows them to provide constant feedback on reps’ effective use of the process and proactively modify it as soon as they detect even minor changes in market conditions. As you can imagine, Dynamic Process firms are few. However, when process is combined with CRM analytics, these firms become formidable competitors.

Source: EmployeeContinuum/CSO Insights

Relationship and Sales Process Summarized

By determining which process level you are currently functioning, you now have the second part of the equation you need to consider when assessing the right profile for successful salespeople, as we can now evaluate how structured or unstructured a sales professional needs to be to work effectively within the company.

With these two perspectives, you can now fully assess the effectiveness potential for a given sales candidate for a specific company. For example, the profile of a sales reps being hired into a company that is Approved Vendor/Random Process would be much different from that of a rep being asked to work for a Trusted Partner/Dynamic Process organization.

Source: EmployeeContinuum/CSO Insights

Determine the Right Fit for Your Organization - On-Line Assessment

Click this link to take a sixteen question survey of your sales organization's client relationships and sales processes.  You will be given a detailed summary of:

  • Your Sales Organization Profile
  • The Plusses and Minuses of this Sales Type
  • Sales Representative Profile
  • Key Competencies to Look for in Sales Candidates

Source: EmployeeContinuum