Sales-rep-superhero

As business leaders, we hate lousy salespeople. I mean we really hate them. Listening to their weak sales calls makes us cringe. Watching them meander aimlessly around the office makes us want to throw things. Reviewing their sales pipelines makes us want to yell at them, shake them, wake them up!

We spend countless hours of our lives talking about our poorest performers, analyzing them, motivating them. How did we get stuck with such lazy, thoughtless, uninspiring salespeople?

We bloody hired them!

Let’s be honest with ourselves: most of our worst hires should have been shown the door during the interview process. Working closely with some of the smartest and most accomplished entrepreneurs over the years has helped us put together these five immediate improvements you can make to your hiring process (feel free to kick yourself as we tell you things you already know and are not doing):

1. Listen to your gut, and then let your head take over

The first 30 minutes of your initial interview with a salesperson are incredibly important. You have to decide right then and there if you would buy from them. Forget the resumé for that brief period and forget who referred them. Instead, put yourself in the mind of a potential customer.

Just have a conversation (that includes Tip No. 4) and allow them to engage with you. If, after 30 minutes, the answer is “no,” reject them from the process. If the answer is “yes,” progress the candidate to a much more rigorous analysis.

Bonus Tip: Experience the job candidate as your clients would. So if you’re hiring an inside sales rep, that first meeting should be over the phone; and if they’d be selling face to face, you should meet them in person.

2. Find some proof that they have a strong work ethic

If a salesperson is a speedboat, their work ethic is the motor. Some reps have a powerful V8, some have a tiny little 4-stroke and some have a paddle with a hole in it. Everyone will tell you they have a strong work ethic, but most are just giving you lip service.

The clearest evidence of a hard worker is someone who knows their own performance numbers extremely well because hard workers love to be measured. The best reps discuss their performance history proudly and confidently both on their resume and in-person. The top performers know they are at the top and they want to be sure you know too. You will also find that these people typically set activity and performance goals for themselves that are above and beyond the targets set for them by their employer.

Read: How to Create a Super Salesforce for what Canada’s Fastest-Growing Companies do to build and support high-performing sales teams

Bonus Tip: Watch the way a salesperson walks. Although this isn’t an exact science, more often than not a slow, meandering walk suggests a person without much sense of purpose, while big, fast strides often show someone who has something to prove.

3. Dig into their sales metrics

There are about 340,000 professional B2B salespeople in Canada with at least one year of “quota-carrying” experience. If this were the medical profession, we could sue 75% of them for malpractice. In our experience, only about 25% of professional salespeople can consistently perform at a high level. If a lousy salesperson is in the right company, at the right time, they can make quota for a couple of years in a row with ease—although it gets trickier to do so more than that.

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