A stellar sales team with the right strategic direction can be the difference between your company’s growth and failure. How do you find top-notch salespeople, and what is it that they’re looking for?
Insights into what the best salespeople want
Top sales reps will be attracted to your company and STAY if (1) they believe in your products and services and understand the benefits that they provide to their customers; (2) if they are immersed in a sales culture that provides coaching and a game plan (sales strategy); and last but not least, (3) if they have a compensation plan that motivates them to hit it out of the park.
Knowledge is power: provide effective training on your products/services
High-performing salespeople want to be able to effectively and efficiently communicate how products/services will address customer needs. If a salesperson can speak with confidence about how the product/service will add value to the customer’s business, then the chance of closing a sale will increase tremendously. Arm your salespeople with the proper training. Post-training, ask them to evaluate the training and the format; their feedback can be invaluable. Allow for routine opportunities to role play the products/services communication with a sales manager or each other.
Have a game plan for success (a sales strategy): build it and salespeople will follow!
You probably have a game plan in every other aspect of your business; for example, a road map for your warehouse workflow. Why should sales be different? Every successful company that has a healthy momentum of sales growth has a well-defined sales strategy. “The game plan” needs to be kept alive so that salespeople can stay on track for success. Tap your trusted advisors to test the viability of your sales strategy. And remember, sales strategy is not one and done; revisit the plan at least once annually, if not more.
What not to do with your sales compensation plans
Many sales compensation plans have been designed by well-intended senior managers who have never been in sales, managed a sales team or don’t have a deep knowledge of what motivates salespeople to grow their book of business. Many standard compensation practices can actually hurt sales, so invest the time and money in building a motivating plan. Here are some items that turn off great sales performers: caps on commissions decrease a high-performing sales person’s motivation and effort; raising quotas annually (using a percentage increase over quota s/he exceeded the previous year) – this usually hurts long-term results. Even timing of bonuses can affect a salesperson’s momentum and motivation. Want to design a pay plan that your salespeople will embrace? Consider utilizing a sales compensation expert – someone who has done this work routinely, and for a wide variety of companies.
Where are the best salespeople and why can’t I find them (or keep them)?
If top performing salespeople want a healthy sales culture, a motivating pay plan, and products and plans they believe in, double check that this is what you’re able to offer (ask for the opinion of trusted advisors).
But let’s assume you’ve got all the right stuff that the best of the best are looking for. Where might you look for stellar salespeople?
Sites like LinkedIn attract thousands of salespeople who may or may not be searching for a new sales job, and many potential candidates are passive job seekers whose eye can be caught for the right opportunity. They’re not on LinkedIn looking for a new job – they’re reading content related to their industry or other topics of interest. It’s worth investigating LinkedIn’s option for premium services that provide many useful features like the ability to view salespeople profiles while remaining anonymous.
Consider using a recruiter, and/or bring in an outsourced sales leader who has experience hiring salespeople
If the success of your company depends on finding the best salespeople who can drive profit and results, then invest in a sales recruiter. Recruiters and consultants who specialize in hiring salespeople can attract the best candidates and they can do it better and faster than you can. Investing in a professional to bring in the best candidates will pay for itself almost immediately. A recruiter will give much needed perspective on the availability of talent, and the cost of the talent you need.
Network everywhere you go
Business owners and CEOs should always be looking for great salespeople, especially outside of the work environment. Great salespeople are “people-people” so don’t hesitate to talk to that extrovert who talks to you first in the grocery checkout line. Whether it’s a checkout line, the security line at the airport, or even the pre-race area at your next 5k run, you may meet a salesperson candidate or maybe even a potential new customer.