Do you ever feel like you might be missing out on the best candidates when you’re hiring for a sales role? You’ve interviewed some great candidates, but you can’t really imagine how any of them will do in your role. And then you start to think that maybe if you keep the position open for a little longer, you might get a larger pool of applicants that will include that one sales star who will knock it out of the park from day one.
Or have you had a great interview with a candidate and felt pressure to move quickly so you don’t miss out on them, even though you’re not entirely sure how to define exactly what will make them a success at your organization? You just know they have an impressive background, and the interview felt really good.
Sales hiring doesn’t have to be a guessing game, and it isn’t something that has to give you FOMO (fear of missing out). By developing a sales hiring process that caters to the specific demands of the role you’re hiring for, you’ll be able to understand exactly what leads to success at your company and easily identify the candidates that will succeed at your organization.
And it starts from the very beginning by building a candidate profile through defining job requirements and goals, then identifying the characteristics candidates need to have to succeed within your open position. Once you get a good candidate profile built, you won’t have to guess anymore about hiring. You’ll be able to find the right candidates from the beginning and easily identify who will be successful in the role.
Ready to say goodbye to FOMO and find out where to get started?
Building a Tailored Candidate Profile
Sales positions may share certain common traits, but each one is unique in its requirements that will determine success. Using a well-thought-out candidate profile before embarking on the hiring process will allow you to consider several critical questions that will lay the foundation for building an effective candidate profile tailored to your company's specific needs.
Here are some things you should be considering when building your candidate profile:
- Geography: Determine whether the sales role demands working in a designated geographical area. Is it an inside sales role that should be in an office? Or does it require covering a sales territory?
- Experience: While industry experience can be advantageous, it should not be the sole criterion for evaluating candidates. Good sellers can overcome a lack of specific industry experience. So look at whether the role genuinely necessitates deep industry expertise.
- Deal Size: Define the average deal size or target deal size for the role you’re hiring for. Familiarity with handling deals of comparable value can contribute to their success in closing more significant opportunities.
- Deal Complexity: Some salespeople excel in managing a high volume of deals, while others thrive in negotiating a few large-scale deals annually. Know what the deal volume and complexity will look like for this role.
- Buying Committee: Evaluate whether your sales process involves interacting with a large buying committee or if decisions are made by a single individual who can buy quickly.
- Transformative Selling: Determine whether your offering in the sales position you’re hiring for requires persuading large organizations to embrace transformative change or provides immediate value with minimal friction.
- Negotiation Complexity: Recognize the level of complexity involved in negotiations for your products or services. Candidates with strong negotiation skills are essential for handling intricate deals, while others may excel in scenarios where quick, straightforward sign-ups are more common.
- Sales CycleDeal Length: Consider the average length of your sales cycle and whether it requires a candidate who can patiently navigate longer deal timelines or one who can capitalize on quick, time-sensitive opportunities.
- Quota Responsibility: Quotas change, we get that, but proactively identifying the expected range of the quota will help you better identify successful candidates.
- Self-sourced deals: Will this role require the candidate to source some or all of their own deals? This will help you understand how self-sufficient the candidate will need to be and understand if they need to have the ability to proactively drive business growth.
Incorporating these essential questions into the initial steps of building a candidate profile will enable you to identify the ideal sales professionals who possess the skills, experience, and adaptability required to succeed in the unique sales environment of your organization. By crafting a comprehensive candidate profile, you can attract the right talent and make more informed hiring decisions, leading to a stronger and more successful sales team.
But it doesn’t stop there. Once you’ve started to consider the job requirements that will help you identify what success will look like in the role, it’s critical to identify the character traits that will help you identify candidates that can succeed in the role.
This step will help you start taking the guesswork out of the hiring process. Let’s dive into how to identify the traits that will succeed in this role.
Identify the Traits of Top Performers
Beyond the specific skills and qualifications, understanding the character traits needed for success in the job is equally important. Identifying these traits will help you select candidates who not only possess the necessary sales acumen but also align with your company's values and culture. Here are some of the key character traits that are essential for success in a sales role:
In the fast-paced world of sales, the ability to learn quickly and apply new knowledge in sales situations is invaluable. Sales candidates with a genuine desire to expand their skill set and stay up-to-date with industry trends are more likely to adapt to evolving customer needs and changing market conditions effectively.
Successful sales professionals must be adaptable, especially in roles where they encounter diverse customer personalities and challenging market dynamics. The capacity to pivot their approach and strategies based on prospect feedback and evolving circumstances can significantly impact their sales performance.
An innate drive for achievement is a hallmark trait of top-performing salespeople. Candidates who are motivated by setting and surpassing ambitious goals are more likely to stay focused, persistent, and proactive in pursuing opportunities and closing deals.
Even the most experienced sales professionals can benefit from feedback and coaching. A willingness to receive feedback and a commitment to personal growth are indicators of a candidate's coachability, which can lead to continuous improvement and long-term success in the role.
A positive attitude and optimistic outlook are vital in sales, where rejection and challenges are common. Sales candidates who possess resilience and can maintain a positive mindset in the face of adversity are more likely to bounce back quickly and maintain their enthusiasm for driving results.
Certain sales roles may demand additional character traits due to the unique nature of the position. For instance, negotiation skills are essential for salespeople dealing with intricate deals, while teamwork and resourcefulness may be vital for those working collaboratively with cross-functional teams or in resource-constrained environments. Other characteristics that could vary depending on the role include curiosity and ownership.
Beyond the inherent traits required for sales success, it is essential to consider how well a candidate aligns with your company's values and culture. Candidates who resonate with your organization's mission and vision are more likely to be engaged, loyal, and dedicated to representing your brand positively.
By carefully assessing and incorporating these character traits into your candidate profile, you can identify sales professionals who not only possess the necessary skills but also have the potential to thrive in your unique sales environment. Cultivating a team with the right mix of traits will lead to a cohesive and motivated sales force driving business growth and customer satisfaction.
Optimizing Your Sales Candidate Profile
Creating an ideal candidate profile is just the beginning. Once you have your profile built, you need to make sure it’s effective by using data to back up your assumptions. By leveraging data, you can continuously refine your hiring process, increase hiring accuracy, and ultimately assemble a high-performing sales team.
Here's how you can use data to optimize your candidate profile:
- To maintain consistency and objectivity in your evaluation process, utilize a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) that includes structured interviews and standardized scorecards. Structured interviews have predefined questions designed to assess specific traits, while scorecards allow you to track and quantify each candidate's performance against the identified traits.
- Once a candidate has been hired, see how they’re performing against the original goals for the job. Collecting this data will help you refine the process for hiring future candidates.
- Analyze whether the selected factors (traits and goals) from the candidate profile are predictive of job performance.
- Adjust the traits in your candidate profile if certain factors are found to be non-predictive of job performance. Emphasize traits that have demonstrated a strong correlation with sales success and consider removing or de-prioritizing less relevant traits.
- Dig deeper into the data to determine the accuracy of predictions about individual traits. Identify which questions and evaluation criteria were most predictive of a candidate's future success in the role. Use this information to fine-tune your interview process and craft more predictive questions.
- Assess whether certain interviewers consistently make more accurate predictions about candidates' potential success in the sales role. If certain interviewers display a higher level of predictive accuracy, consider giving them more responsibility in the interview process or using their insights to improve the overall evaluation process.
By using data to evaluate the effectiveness of your candidate profile, you transform the hiring process from a subjective exercise into a data-driven endeavor. This approach enables you to make well-informed decisions and continuously improve the quality of hires.