Your business is growing fast, and your sales team has more leads than they can handle (a very fortunate position to be in). It’s time to grow your sales team, but how do you scale sales hiring successfully without compromising the quality of your employees?
Early on at a smaller company, you should be very selective about who you bring on board because every single sales hire has a tremendous impact on the organization and corporate culture. While every individual is still important as you grow, you don’t have the time or bandwidth to exercise the same level of scrutiny for every new hire. When you begin to hire en-masse, you must implement a consistent and repeatable process for evaluating sales candidates.
Here’s the best way to hire sales people as you grow and scale your team to find the best candidates, screen for successful traits, and stay organized.
Consider How You Recruit
The first decision you need to make is how to source high-quality candidates for the job. You can put up a job posting on your website, Career Builder, or LinkedIn, but that’s only going to reach candidates who are actively job searching. Oftentimes, the best candidates are the ones that aren’t currently looking for a new job. You have to decide if you want to be reactive and accept the people who are looking, or be proactive and go out and get the people who are doing the job well today. Here at InsightSquared, we’re able to get candidates who are successful in the role at other companies because the reputation and culture of our company make us an attractive place to work.
If you do want to proactively seek out folks, you need to decide if you want to engage a recruiting firm or a recruiter. At some point, when your organization is big enough, you’ll probably have enough open jobs that you just want to hire a recruiter full-time. But even if you’re not at that point yet, you want to be organized about recruiting for sales. Just having a bunch of folders with resumes of various candidates is not enough to truly scale your sales team. You may want to consider an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) such as Bullhorn, PCRecruiter, or MaxHire.
Evaluate Candidates Objectively
Ideally, your hiring process should include objective measurements of a candidate’s abilities. Everyone involved in the hiring process should be able to accurately measure the same qualities using a rubric that is tied to performance on the job. For example, if you’re hiring for positions that require high activity levels, you should have a metric that describes energy level in a job candidate. If you have an extremely technical product, you may want to have a measure of someone’s ability to communicate technical terms to non-technical people. You also don’t have to reinvent the wheel here – there are lots of personality tests available such as Profiles International and DiSC that will objectively measure someone’s personality. Find the profiles of your top salespeople and try to match the personalities of candidates with top salespeople. However, don’t let that be your only measurement – many different types of personalities can be successful in a job.
Every interviewer at InsightSquared fills out a scorecard on the candidate. Find out what the key characteristics are for the job that you want to hire for – and measure objectively. For example if you want to hire for coachability, do a roleplay where candidates pretend to sell a pencil to you, then give them feedback on how to improve. Coachable candidates will incorporate your feedback and substantially improve, but people who are not coachable may object to your feedback or simply fail to change their performance. By using this role play activity, you have a way to subjectively measure someone’s willingness to be coached.
Often when companies grow, they don’t realize how many people they need to hire until it’s almost too late. When that happens, the pressure of filling a job can overcome your desire to be selective. To prevent hiring the wrong reps in a hurry, you have to plan far in advance of the actual hiring. Work with your VP of Operations or COO to lock in your head count as much as 6 months ahead of time – that way you’re not scrambling to put bodies in seats and you will have time to wait for the right candidate. As you begin to grow your team more quickly, a lot of your time is going to be spent reading resumes, doing phone screenings, and conducting onsite interviews.
Here at InsightSquared, if we plan to make a new hire every week, we need to know our overall conversion rates for hiring. Spend some time figuring out how many resumes you need to go through before you find someone worth screening, how many screens to find a good interviewee, and how many onsite interviews you need to be able to extend an offer. Furthermore, what’s the likelihood someone will accept? This means if you want to hire 5 people a month, for example, then you may have to give 7 offers, hold 14 in-person interviews, do 28 phone screens, and receive maybe 105 resumes in total. If you understand your metrics and plan ahead for your growth, you’ll be in much better shape.
The key to scaling sales rep hiring is being consistent, so everyone involved in the hiring process can measure candidates objectively. Keep things moving smoothly by analyzing the hiring metrics, planning in advance, sourcing quality candidates, and hiring for the qualities your team needs. With the right sales reps on your team as you grow, your sales success will be assured.