Hacks to Hiring the Right Inside Sales People

“We need a salesperson now!”Interview

How many times has a business manager screamed these words at a recruiter?

Business managers—especially entrepreneurs—have a downright awful track record when it comes to hiring and retaining the right sales talent.

In fact, when we survey sales leaders, 78 percent say hiring is their No. 1 challenge.

So what is the right way to get the right talent in the right seats? And how can you begin solving your hiring problem today?

For starters, you need to quit doing what you’ve always done—going with your gut and picking the best-looking resume.

Instead, start maximizing your hiring process with hiring hacks, and then move to a data-driven hiring approach.

Hiring the right people

Traditional hiring models are broken. Think about it, we’ve been hiring the same way for hundreds of years and it’s time for a change. Organizations are embodying the definition of insanity by continuing to try the same approach and expecting different results.

When you hire based on subjective methods, you’re going to have random results.

It’s that simple.

Hiring Hack

Okay, so what’s the hack?

How do you hire more people who look like your best sales reps using an objective approach?

Well, if all you want to do is hire more people who “look” like your best sales reps, take a picture of your top performers and upload it to Google Images. In seconds you’ll have plenty of candidates who look exactly like your top performers.

I did it.

I consider myself a top sales performer and that’s a picture of me on the left. I wanted to find more people like me so I uploaded my picture and, surprisingly, it returned Mona, who looks actually a lot like me…Gabe

It’s a lot of fun, but unfortunately a terrible hiring method.

Obviously, looks don’t determine sales success. This is probably my favorite hiring hack, but sadly, it’s the most un-reliable.

In all seriousness, studies are showing more and more that GPA, test scores, and even experience are not the most predictive element when hiring top sales individuals. The most predictive element is talent. Talent, according to Gallup, is a naturally recurring pattern of thoughts, feelings and behaviors that can be productively applied.

Knowing that natural behavioral dispositions influence who a person is, and how they will sell, is essential, but near-impossible to spot.

This leads us to our next hiring hacks.

If you want a cheap way to determine talent, jump online and have potential candidates take a personality test, like the Gallup StrengthsFinder or Myers Briggs. These tests give great insight into an individual’s personality, which is so much more important than what they look like.

The problem with this hack is that these online assessments are general personality tests. They aren’t designed to determine which ‘personalities’ are optimal for a sales role in your particular environment.

Meaning, these tests are good, but not great.

In fact, with some of these personality assessments it’s actually illegal to base your hiring decision on their outcome. That’s why it’s best to move to a more data-driven approach. Data trumps hack solutions, data trumps intuition and data really trumps hiring superstitions.

The Data-Driven Approach

Think about the best salesperson you’ve ever known. What makes him or her exceptional?

  • Was it a degree from an Ivy League school?
  • The 10 years of experience?
  • Employment at a Fortune 500 company?

I’ve posed this very question to thousands of sales managers and leaders. If you responded as most of them have, then you probably didn’t choose any of the above criteria. You probably picked one or more of the attributes below:

  • Highly competitive
  • Intensely passionate
  • Endlessly resilient

It’s obvious. Everybody knows the attributes on the second list are what make the best salespeople, but it’s hard to determine which attributes are most predictive of sales success right? WRONG!

You can use specialized, data-driven hiring assessments that are designed to identify top talent in your organization, and it can be the most important sales decision you ever make. The right assessment can measure the key qualities that make salespeople successful in the critical areas of:Gabe2

  • Prospecting
  • Closing sales
  • Teamwork
  • Self-direction
  • Call reluctance
  • Building and maintaining relationships

XANT’s Sales Indicator is one such solution. Sales Indicator can help predict which candidates have the talent to perform in these areas. More importantly, it informs managers which reps will hit their monthly quotas before hiring them, saving you time and money.

Sales Indicator’s magic is in the data. Having studied literally thousands of sales people, the scientists at XANT have discovered that there are four behavioral dispositions that are key to determining the performance of top performers.

  1. Empathy is the ability to comprehend precisely the emotional and psychological state of customers.
    Question to Ask: Are you often moved by the misfortunes of others?
  2. Resilience is the ability to cope with difficulty, to negotiate obstacles, to optimize performance in the face of adversity. More simply, it is the ability to work through disappointments and so-called “performance failures.”
    Question to Ask: Do your friends think you have a strong personality?
  3. Ambition is the drive to be successful. Ambition is not simply the drive to be No. 1. It’s the lifelong pursuit of success in every important and meaningful endeavor of human life.
    Question to Ask: Do you often make greater effort than others to complete a task?
  4. Openness refers to curiosity about the world in which we find ourselves.
    Question to Ask: Do you enjoy learning new ideas?

Hiring using a tool like Sales Indicator is not a hack but a must if organizations are going to get serious about hiring sales super stars.

The Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM) recently released study reporting that 82 percent of organizations do not use assessments in the hiring process, but 71 percent of companies believe they would be useful.

To all sales leaders within the sound of my voice, here is my advice: Start with a pre-hire assessment tool and watch it raise the talent level of your entire organization.

Data-Driven Hiring: Scientific Selection of Sales Stars

Free eBook: Data-Driven Hiring

Learn how predictive statistics and data can help you hire the best sales reps.

Gabe Larsen

Photo Credit: Alan Cleaver

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