In the same way that a sales process is the mechanism for turning a prospect into a customer, it also takes skillful execution of a complete process to convert a candidate for a sales role into your new salesperson. What’s more, landing the right salesperson means your process must include discovering key information, establishing trust, and making other right moves to cement the relationship. But just as the sales process can be fraught with potential for errors, it is also true that missteps in the hiring process can mean wasted time, miscommunication and the breakdown of a professional relationship before it even starts. Let’s take a look at some critical dos and don’ts that can keep you on track for selecting – and making the right sales job offer to – a great salesperson for your team:
Do consider the process as a whole and start with the end in mind. Make sure you – and anyone else involved in the process – have a clear understanding of what success looks like. What attributes does your ideal candidate have? How much experience is necessary? What is the budget for the position, including the best total compensation package that can be offered to the right candidate? Knowing the parameters and limitations up front can save valuable time throughout the process; it will also help you know when you have found the right person.
Don’t sell first and question later. When interviewing candidates, don’t put so much emphasis on selling the company to the candidate that you fail to learn whether the candidate is actually a good fit for the company. With that in mind…
Do ask probing questions, indirectly. To get the information you need about whether a good candidate would be likely to accept an offer in the salary range for the position, you’ll need to ask questions that give you a better idea of the candidate’s past performance and responsibilities.
For example, you could ask about the volume or value of their previous sales quotas and their success in meeting those quotas. You could ask about the average size of a closed deal or the length of their sales cycle. You can also inquire about the nature of the sales – in particular, whether they were complex sales requiring longer cycles (such as enterprise-wide solutions), or transactional and shorter-term in nature (such as the sale of location-specific supplies or equipment).
By asking these sorts of questions, you can get a good idea if the candidate is right for the position. If you feel the candidate’s experience and performance history is in alignment with your needs, you can follow up by asking, “Based on what we’ve discussed about your experience, would you provide me with your salary history and expectations?” That information will be crucial regarding whether you should continuing the discussion in earnest or not.
Don’t waste time or invest hope. Simply put, whenever in the process you discover that the candidate will not be a good fit for the position (or that the position is not a good fit for the candidate), make that known. Don’t string along a candidate when it is clear that he or she will not get the position. Be respectful or their time – and yours. As with the sales process, it can be an emotional roller coaster to select and hire a salesperson. You and the candidate will likely invest considerable effort and emotion into your respective parts of the process. Because of that, hope runs high – on both sides – that the match will be made and the professional relationship started. Once it is clear from your perspective that this will not be the case, let the candidate know. Perhaps you can’t help getting their hopes up early in the process, but you can avoid keeping them up unnecessarily.
Don’t hand off the step of making the offer to HR. Throughout the candidate selection and interviewing process you should have carried on a dialogue and established trust. Don’t jeopardize that trust when the time is right to make the offer by handing off the offer-making conversation to someone from Human Resources. While it might be corporate policy that an HR representative present and finalize certain details, the actual offer should come from you. Carry on that dialogue and maintain that trust.
Don’t make a lowball offer to leave significant room for negotiation. If you have learned the essential information during your discussions with the candidate, you should know that your offer is in line with their requirements and expectations. Make the candidate a fair offer and frame it well. Don’t throw out an obvious (and insulting) lowball offer expecting that the candidate will counter and you’ll find middle ground. While it might be fine to negotiate on small aspects of the offer, remember that compromise is a concession and no one feels like a winner in that case. If you are offering compensation far below what the candidate is worth, you undermine the respect and trust you’ve worked hard to establish.
Don’t introduce any surprises during the offer phase. Likewise, don’t spring any surprises (good or bad) on the candidate during the offer discussion. As you have continued the dialogue, all important aspects of the job and the forthcoming offer should have already been discussed, if not formalized or finalized.
At Sales Xceleration, we know that you should treat the selection and hiring of a salesperson as a process – one that is just as important as the sales process your sales team members follow to win customers. If you establish and follow a hiring process with that level of importance, you can eliminate surprises, create a foundation of long-term trust, and make good and respectful use of everyone’s time. Best of all, you will likely put yourself in position to hire the best candidate for the job with a compensation plan that is fair to all.
If you would like to learn more about how Sales Xceleration’s proven systems – from recruiting and hiring sales personnel to structuring and executing effective sales programs and processes – can help you, contact one of our Advisors today, or give us a call at 844.874.7253.