Summertime. Long, hot days, warm nights, friends and family around the BBQ. Who wants to drive sales out of the ballpark when all you want is to be out at the ballpark? I mean, everyone is on vacation anyway, right? So why not ease up a little on the sales and hiring motivation?
*** Warning!! The midsummer attitude is highly contagious. Improper use may result in serious injury or death to your top line! ***
Attitude. Commitment. Focus. All of these seem harder to maintain when you, your colleagues and your clients are clinging to the pace of summertime. They are even harder when you’re looking to grow your business by bringing on some new help.
We’ve heard from a lot of business owners and sales leaders who have recently, or are looking to add new salespeople to help kick start growth (great news!). What we’re also hearing is that businesses simply can’t afford the wrong sales hire.
Many aren’t sure how to go about finding someone who will perform well in their business (no, the past is NOT a solid indicator for that), let alone re-igniting the energy levels in the team members they already have.
Hiring and motivating sales help is one of the most difficult and critical growth decisions a business makes. And if you’re not a sales guru to start with, it can all seem like a huge gamble at the blackjack table. So how can you improve your odds?
Don’t Roll the Dice with Hiring and Motivation
First, determine whether your organization is ready to hire. Clarify roles and responsibilities in advance, including the activities and revenue you need the position to deliver. Make sure you’ve defined how the role integrates with the rest of the organization. Verify that your onboarding process is written and provides the orientation and training a new hire needs to understand the roles, responsibilities, expectations and company culture.
Next, recognize that there is no such thing as a “born salesperson” – and contrary to popular belief, “the gift of gab” is not a valuable sales trait! Anyone can be great at sales IF he or she is: (1) willing to learn, and (2) committed to success in your field. That’s two big ifs, and they apply to both your existing team and potential additions.
Scouting Out Sales Talent
You already know whether or not your existing team can sell. Simply look at the numbers and compare achievement to the volume of excuses you hear about why they “can’t” perform. A high excuse ratio shows a low willingness quotient!
For new candidates, uncover how they have acquired new knowledge and skills in the past, why, and how they applied that new knowledge for a positive result. This will provide some insight on their desire to improve, as well as critical thinking and decision-making skills. Then verify their responses with a former employer or client! Sometimes, the best sales pitch a salesperson makes is the one they give you in the interview.
This is where the spark of motivation lives. Why someone should perform well is a little easier to gauge and monitor. First, match their interests and skills to your field. A small engine repair genius isn’t likely to be passionate or consistent about selling fine art.
Second, understand what their personal goals and ambitions are, then tie those goals to the rewards of performing well at your company. When difficult tasks and hard times come calling, you can help keep your reps on track by reminding them of why they’re with you and how you can help them earn that house on the lake, early retirement nest egg, or Red Sox season tickets … whatever it is that gets them going. This goal alignment piece can be a powerful motivator for commitment when the passion piece is missing, but be selective on both points.
The employer’s market is tight for good sales reps, and the good ones know it. Once an equal opportunity more aligned to their passion comes up, even your most successful reps are likely to follow their heart and leave you back at the gaming table saying “hit me!”
Still lacking the hiring motivation and sales mentality? Wondering if you even need new salespeople? Take the quick and free Sales Agility Assessment and see right away what your sales operation might be missing.
Jon Anderson is President of Sidehill Consulting and provides hands-on service as an Outsourced VP of Sales. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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