Hiring a sales person can often be one of the most challenging recruitment tasks for a business owner.
After all, a good sales person will be skilled at presenting themselves well and (possibly) telling you what you need to hear to hire them.
As a business owner you can be tempted to rush the whole hiring process. You want someone in the role now. You want to generate revenue ASAP. But in the rush to fill the role you risk recruiting the wrong person, who, unlike someone in a back office role, has the potential to build or undermine your company’s position in the market and directly impact relationships with clients.
Recently I was speaking with an experienced business owner who wanted to assess their options for recruiting and managing extra sales people. However, upon further discussion it became clear the business was missing some important stepping stones that connect what the business needs with what the sales person will be doing.
Those missing links included:
- No Position Description
- No documented sales process
- No sales reporting or sales management process
- No KPI’s
- No overarching business plan or clarity around the focus for the sales role (apart from “getting sales”)
It sounds as though this business may be totally unorganised doesn’t it? But this situation isn’t uncommon.
Sales roles often evolve from what the founder did
It’s often the case that the ‘sales’ function evolves from what the founder of the business was originally doing themselves. In the early days of a business the founder is usually the person in the sales role, speaking with prospects and winning new business. And unless the founder takes steps to properly document what they do, and what the next person in the sales role should be following, gaps quickly appear leading to the missing links noted above when they try to recruit other people into the sales team.
3 stages to ensure you hire the right sales person
1) Review your sales process
Make sure you have analysed and documented each step in the sales process, along with the information needed at each step. This should be based on historical selling activity and your track record of success winning new clients.
If you don’t properly document the sales process you’re really asking the new seller to figure it out for themselves, which will limit their productivity and may be counterproductive as they may do things differently than what you want.
2) Identify performance measurement metrics and procedures
At a basic level this involves creating a Position Description that clearly explains the expectations of the role. It’s not uncommon for sales people to be expected to attend trade shows, or respond to customers outside of ‘normal’ office hours, or to perform some other related tasks within the business. All that should be spelled out in the PD ideally with an indication of how much time should be spent on each category of activity.
Additionally, and probably most importantly, the PD should contain clear Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) along with how and when those KPI’s will be measured and reported. The metrics selected for KPI’s should include a combination of lagging KPI’s (such as sales invoiced) as well as leading KPI’s (such as the number of sales calls made, or the number of quotes prepared).
A good PD will also include ‘essential’ and ‘desirable’ characteristics of the person holding the role. These characteristics, attitudes or traits should also reflect the overall company culture and set expectations of how the person will undertake their responsibilities.
3) Set up the sales process within your CRM system
In the early days of the business, when the founder was doing all the sales, it is often the case they have all the client information in their head. They’ve built up that knowledge over time, and it could be second-nature to them. They may feel they don’t need to keep notes or have more structured sales records. But a new sales person will need a more reliable system they can access to know what’s happening with each client.
And from the founders perspective you’ll want to know what the sales person has been doing. You’ll want to see some notes, actions and outcomes from their sales work. Sure, you can always get a verbal report to give you an update, however over time you’ll need to be capturing and analysing the results of sales activities.
This is where a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system is helpful. Set up correctly a CRM system can generate the sales reports you need without taking time away from the seller to manually write up results.
Recruiting for a sales role is exciting, but also challenging. If you’d like some assistance to assess your options for developing the sales function within your business you’re welcome to contact me for an obligation-free discussion.