Hiring Advice for Sales Leadership in 2016

Find out what to look for in potential sales hire and conduct a hiring process that gets the best results.

June 13, 2016

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Sales is arguably the most important function in a business. According to Forbes, “Companies typically spend much more money and hire many more people, annually, in their sales function than they do anywhere else in the firm. At Google and Groupon, for instance, a higher percentage of employees work in sales than engineering or data mining.”

But how often are these companies throwing good money after bad? Hiring a stellar sales team or additional representatives requires strong leadership and as much strategy as you’d put into any important account.

Here are four pieces of guiding advice for sales leaders looking to add to their teams in 2016.

1. Understand Your Business

Sure, from a leadership position you probably already have a great deal of insight into how your organization works—but that doesn’t negate the value of research before hiring. Research should be both internal and external, and include observations and interviews with your existing sales reps, customers, and potential customers.

Find out how they want sales people to behave, what personality traits have been most successful, and what may be lacking on your current team. Use research to clearly define what the goal of your sales team, so you can systemically approach finding someone who will make a valuable contribution towards achieving these goals.

2. Monitor the Personal Side

Instinct has little place in the hiring process. You can certainly rely on your experience, but hiring someone in your own image or allowing personal feelings to get in the way of a good hire should be avoided.

Don’t get caught up in the emotional side of new hires. Try and be as objective as possible and attempt to eliminate bias with a comprehensive, scientific hiring process (more on that later).

3. Fine Tune the Interview Process

It’s fine to ask candidates about their lives, experiences, strengths, and weaknesses, but there’s so much more to assess about a potential hire. Great sales leaders know that candidates must be tested—and the characteristics they exhibit during a first, or even a second interview are not enough to justify this important decision.

Assess factors like motivation and cognition by asking finely tuned interview questions. If the position requires familiarity with social selling, for example, ask the candidate exactly what words they’d use to ask for an introduction to a prospect from a mutual connection.

4. Hire Social Sellers

You knew this one was coming. If you haven’t already, 2016 is the year you should update your job specs to include experience with social selling.

Consumers are doing so much research online before making a purchase decision that the ideal sales hire already has a presence on social media. A strong professional profile in a sales hire will increase the visibility of your brand. If the candidate is a social seller, it’s also in indication that they understand the importance of content marketing in the sales process.

In all likelihood, they will know how to share, promote, and engage with content on social media platforms, thus positioning themselves as a thought leader for your brand. Not to mention research shows that social sellers produce more leads and close more deals. This isn’t a skill set you want to miss out on!

Our advice on hiring a winning sales team reflects the leading voices in sales across many industries. If you’re interested in hearing more about some of the world’s most successful sales teams function, check out our latest eBook: Proven Strategies from the World’s Top Sales Performers.