1. For starters, don’t do it the way you’re doing it now
You won’t find the right person just because a CV looks good. There is a wide body of research that confirms previous experience is the least reliable predictor of future performance and that experienced-based interviewing is the least reliable tool. Hiring for attitude is the latest recruitment fad, even Richard Branson has come out as a supporter. However, it shouldn’t be a fad. Objective measurement of an individual’s Values and Motivation is at the heart of accurate hiring – and at the heart of you hiring the high-performing sales people you need.
2. Get to grips with your culture
You see it time and time again. A great sales person jumps ship, joins a competitive business and practically needs a life jacket to stop drowning. Bottom line is, if the culture fit between company and employee is wrong, a star performer won’t be able to, well, perform. Understand your culture, your systems, your process, your leadership and your customers.
3.Understand your entire sales team
Know who your linchpins (star performers), presentees and mood-hoovers are. Everyone knows the linchpins; they carry the rest of the sales organisation. The presentees clock in, clock out and you’re probably not totally sure who they are. And the mood hoovers, well, they quite literally suck the life out of the organisation.
4. If you don’t know ‘what great looks like’, how can you hire the next star performer?
Once you know your linchpins, what behaviours do they have that get results? According to CSO Insights (2009), on average, the top 20 per cent of the sales force account for 62 per cent of a company’s revenue. Finding out ‘what great looks like’ in your high performers, gives you criteria to hire against. By understanding their values, motivations and behaviours, you will know what it takes to be successful, in your culture.
5. Get some sticky notes
This takes a few moments tops. And it’ll demonstrate my point, which will help you. Grab a sticky note pad and pen. As quickly as you can, write on a sticky note one aspect of your high performing sales people that differentiates them from the rest. Now think of another aspect and write it on another sticky, so you’ve got lots of sticky notes. You may have things like, driven, bright, or planned. Now, classify these into whether you think each aspect is part of their Intellect, Values, Motivations, Behaviours or their Experience.
6. Looking for a ‘Challenger’? Then you’ll need more information
The CEB’s Challenger Sale: Taking control of the customer conversation is something we absolutely subscribe to, but there are some other things you need to know, things that weren’t answered in the book.
7. Listen to this brilliant man
Dee Hock, the CEO of Visa was quoted as saying: “Hire and promote first on the basis of integrity; second, motivation; third, capacity; fourth, understanding; fifth, knowledge; and last and least, experience. Without integrity, motivation is dangerous; without motivation, capacity is impotent; without capacity, understanding is limited; without understanding, knowledge is meaningless; without knowledge, experience is blind. Experience is easy to provide and quickly put to good use by with people with all the other qualities.” The principles of this outstanding and famous leader laid down are the reasons why just understanding competencies are not enough to create performance.
It’s time to beat the bluffers. Get better at hiring than they are at interviewing.
Roger Philby is the CEO of The Chemistry Group, a consultancy that drives business improvement through behaviour change.
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