Are You Whimsically Hiring Sales Reps or Making Educated Revenue Investments?

For many companies, the process of building a sales team often feels like a revolving door of failed reps with only the occasional home run. In his new book, Hire Right, Higher Profits, sales management strategist Lee B. Salz explains the key to stopping the madness is to view hiring decisions just as you would any other investment.

Hiring is an Investment: How to Maximize Your Return

As a sales manager, imagine you woke up this morning with an incredible idea to grow your company’s revenue. Unfortunately, that idea — as ingenious as it might be — is going to cost the company $25,000. To you, the expense is minimal relative to the potential revenue return. The trick is you’ve got to convince your management team to see it that way, too. How many hurdles will you have to jump over to get approval to proceed?You’ll likely need to perform a financial analysis, conduct research on the potential impact of the solution, and maybe even organize focus groups or studies to validate the benefits. Six months later, maybe you’ll convince company executives to buy into the investment.
Now, imagine you had a different idea — that the company should hire a new sales rep at a $25,000 starting salary. How many hurdles would you have to clear to make that hire?
“Not many,” suggests Lee B. Salz, founder of sales consultancy Sales Architects and one of OpenView’s Top 25 Sales Influencers for 2013. “In fact, you’d probably get the green light to make that hire pretty quickly.” Hire Right, Higher Profits cover
Why are these two situations handled differently? Salz refers to this as the $25,000 test in his new book Hire Right, Higher Profits: The Executive’s Guide to Building a World-Class Sales Force.
“The reality is that the two ideas above would cost the same amount, but most executives wouldn’t treat them the same way,” Salz says. “I think that’s one of the primary reasons so many businesses struggle to hire the right salespeople.  They don’t invest the time and energy that’s necessary to truly determine if the person they hire is the right one in whom to make an investment.”

4 Questions that Must Be Answered Before Hiring Sales Reps

Salz says the underlying theme of his new book is that building a sales team is no different than making revenue investments in other areas of your business. “Each member of your sales team represents a micro-investment in revenue — you’re bringing them on board with the objective of achieving a fast, high return on the money you spend upfront,” Salz explains. “It’s no different than investing in sales strategies, tactics, or ideas that are intended to grow revenue.” To change your hiring approach to a more revenue-focused perspective, Salz recommends asking four key questions before you make any sales hiring decision:

  1. What type of investment do we need to make?

  2. What factors will impact our investment’s performance?

  3. How are we going to evaluate investment options to make the right choice?

  4. How are we going to protect that investment and ensure a high return on it?

In Hire Right Higher Profits, Salz addresses those questions by revealing factors that lead to sales hiring successes or failures, sharing tips to evaluate sales candidates’ resumes to get to the truth, and explaining why it’s critical to protect sales hiring investments with structured sales onboarding and enablement. “The methodology presented in the book can be implemented in any company, in any industry, of any size,” Salz says. “And it’s based on real-world, field-tested sales management practices from more than 20 years of experience, not scientific studies. Whether you’re a seasoned executive or new sales manager, this change in perspective can improve the way you approach hiring and drive profits.”

Be Wary of “Great Salespeople” — They Don’t Exist

“Greatness is more of a descriptor of the marriage between the right salesperson and the right role, not the salesperson’s previous success.”

— Lee B. Salz, Sales Architects

While his strategy is designed to help businesses make better sales hires, Salz warns executives against chasing a mythical sales unicorn: “Great salespeople.” “What does ‘great’ mean?” Salz asks. “The reality is there are very few truly exceptional salespeople — the types of folks who can sell any product, to any customer, in any industry, under any circumstances. Those kinds of salespeople are incredibly rare to find. Most people who meet that criteria are entrepreneurs. They’re not looking  for sales jobs. Throughout his career, Salz says he’s seen plenty of so-called “great salespeople” — reps with great resumes and track records — flame out when they join a new business. The issue, Salz says, is the context of the word “great.” “Maybe a salesperson was great in a previous role, but that doesn’t mean he or she will be great in yours,” Salz explains. That person may have sold for a big, name-brand company, for example, and success in that kind of background doesn’t always translate to selling for a start-up. So, instead of looking for great salespeople, Salz recommends looking for the right salespeople with the potential to be great in your company. “When you’re hiring sales reps, you need to look for people who have the potential to succeed in a specific role in your company,” Salz says. “It’s about finding a match between the needs of the role and the background of the individual coming into it. In that sense, greatness is more of a descriptor of the relationship between the salesperson and the role, not the salesperson’s previous success.”

Keep Reading

For more on how you can take better advantage of your sales hiring opportunities, check out a free sample chapter of Hire Right Higher Profits. Readers who order the book also get access to Lee’s virtual training course, Get Your New Hire Salespeople Up to Speed… Fast! Newsletter signup bottom
Photo by: Simon Cunningham

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