Hiring the right salesperson for the job is not an easy task. The biggest mistake business managers face with salespeople is expecting them to be one size fits all sales kind a person which ends in a win-lose or lose-lose situation.
Let me explain.
Not all salespeople are equal
Let say you hire a new salesperson for your business because this is something you don’t like doing yourself. But, you don’t want to pay them much – you want them to live on commission only sales. Yes, they say to the role (usually because they are desperate and attracted by the potential to earn big money) then within three months they resign.
Alternatively, you hire someone who is good in front of the customer and can close sales but lousy at prospecting for new business. You put them on the end of a telephone and tell them cold call and make appointments. Ouch – that’s just mean. Why waste a talent getting them to do something they are not good at? Again, within a few short months they resign for they hate prospecting.
That brings you back to square one. Looking for another salesperson (one size fits all) and you go through the same cycle all over again.
Examine your business needs
Before you hire a salesperson, examine your business needs. What type of sales person do you need?
- An order taker?
- A customer service representative?
- An inbound sales representative?
- An outbound sales representative?
- A telemarketer?
- A key account manager?
- A business development specialist?
An order taker is a person who does exactly what the words mean, they take orders. It could be face-to-face which is common in a retail environment or restaurant. A customers calls in and the salesperson takes the order then either fulfills it themselves or hands it off to someone else to fulfill it. You frequently see see this with on-line shopping alternatively orders may be received over the telephone or through email.
Order takers are not fully-fledged salespeople, they are more like customer service representatives who facilitate the buying and selling process.
Don’t expect order takers to be a business development specialist.
To get the best out of an order taker
Put time into training them in product knowledge, customer service skills and policies and procedures related to your products and services. They also need to know how to handle incoming sales calls effectively.
Inbound sales representatives
Inbound sales representatives deal with slightly more complex sales. For example, a mobile phone retailer or an Apple store, the sales representative needs to have a few more skills because of the complexities around the sale. Which phone or tablet, how much data, talk and text time will the customer need? Is the device for personal use or business? What kind of plan is needed? You get the picture.
Don’t expect inbound sales representatives to be a business development specialist who prospects and cold calls for new business. Their role is to look after the customer, understand their needs and sell them the product or service that best fits their needs.
To get the best out of an inbound sales representative
Outbound sales representatives
Outbound sales representatives are different from inbound sales representatives because they reach out to customers as opposed to customers calling in.
Their role is two-fold, reaching out to new customers via telemarketing activities or travelling in some capacity to meet with both existing and potential clients. They are usually required to call on customers located in a geographical area. Frequently they carry samples or catalogs with them to introduce existing customers to new product lines or make sales to new customers.
Outbound sales representatives require some prospecting skills as they need to generate new business. This may be via the telephone or in person.
To get the best out of an inbound sales representative
Telemarketers are also outbound sales representatives. They reach out to new prospects to set up an appointment for a salesperson or to sell something over the phone. This is a very specialized role because it involves rejection, sometimes lots of rejection. Not everyone has the capacity to reach out to someone they don’t know and to stay motivated if they keep getting rejected.
As a business owner or manager, if you expect all salespeople to have this skill then you will be disappointed. Some salespeople hate telemarketing activities. If you hire a good salesperson who hates telemarketing, this will demotivate them very very quickly and you will never hang onto them.
Always best to separate the two roles to get the maximum benefits from each person. Let the telemarketer set up the appointments and then send in your best sales people with the skills to handle the sales process.
To get the best out of a telemarketer
Put time into developing their telephone skills. prospecting skills, rapport building skills and communication skills. They must have excellent listening and questioning skills and have the confidence to ask for the appointment or sale.
Key account managers
As the name suggests, key account managers are a liaison person and manage larger key accounts particularly in a sales environment where an organization has multiple branches. Customers get frustrated having to deal with multiple salespeople from the same company – therefore having a go to person, an account manager is the way to go.
In this scenario, managers appoint a key account manager to manage larger business accounts at a more strategic level. This is often the case with banks and financial institutions where one person is assigned to coordinate the buying and selling process so customers deal with one key account manager instead of multiple sales people.
Don’t expect key account managers to develop new business, that is not their purpose. Their purpose is to keep the customer happy and ensure a smooth transition from orders placed to sales made and delivered from the customers perspective.
Their role is focused on maintaining business relationships and serving the customer to retain their business.
To get the best out of a key account manager
Put time into training them in product knowledge, customer service skills and policies and procedures related to your products and services. They need a sound understanding of the sales process and writing business proposals.
Business development specialist
A business development specialist is a salesperson who is good at prospecting for new business. They are a sales hunter and requires a completely different set of skills from an order taker, sales rep or key account manager. Their focus is on outbound selling which may require cold calling, making outbound sales calls, sending cold emails, attending networking events and a multitude of other business development techniques. Their focus is to keep the top of the sales funnel full with new leads.
Don’t expect a business development specialist to sit back and take orders. They must be self-motivated because they take a lot of rejection because of the nature their role. They must have the ability to pick themselves up again after receiving no after-no after-no!
They virtually ride a sales roller coaster with extreme high and lows daily, weekly and monthly. Sales managers need to take a different approach managing business development specialists to ensure they meet their targets or quotas and to keep them inspired to stay on track.
Don’t expect a business development specialist to follow up and manage an account once they have brought the business in. You need key account managers, customer services reps to support them particularly if details are not their strength. Their strength is making new connections and facilitating the sale either themselves or through another sales person.
To get the best out of a business development specialist
They are most likely driven my results and money. Whatever you do, don’t feed them on commission only selling. Everyone must win and like anyone else they have expenses they must meet. Incentivize them with bonuses, but commission only can kill their spirit. The reason being is that it depends on the sales cycle. Sometime with larger account it can take months to build your customer base to a point they have successfully moved them through the sales funnel. How many people can realistically go months and months without an income even with the promise of huge commissions.
Making the hiring decision
After you have examined your business needs, then it’s time to define the role. What do you need the person to do?
- Take orders and process them
- Go out on the road, meet with existing and new customers
- Bring customers into the business through telemarketing activities
- Look after customers and ensure their needs are met
- Full on hard core cold calling business development activities
Now that you understand the various functions and roles of a salesperson, consider your budget and what the business can afford. Before you advertise and make a hiring decision, make sure you have created a role specific description of their duties and key performance indicators. This is what the recruitment advertisement needs to highlight to ensure you get the right qualified applicants for the role.
If you hire a person to carry a single role, consider what other support you need to give them. If you hire a salesperson to carry more than one function, consider what they are good at, what they are not good at and how you will bridge that gap.
Lastly – after you have hired the right person, make sure you put time and effort into the right training they will require to successfully carry out their role.
On a final note
When you hire the right salesperson for the job you get the results you are looking for.
In a Nutshell
Not all salespeople are equal. To hire the right person…..
- Firstly examine your business needs.
- Create a job description outlining the role and the expertise your require.
- Advertise the skills and experience you require.
- Don’t expect them to do something that is not their strength.
- Put time into training them and provide ongoing mentoring support.
- Ensure both you and the employee understand the difference between prospecting, telemarketing, customer service, inbound and outbound selling, being a sales representative and business developer.
- Set them up to succeed.