Categories Articles, Sales and Marketing

Whenever I hear someone talking about the difficulties of being a great sales leader, I immediately think of a quote from Philip Crosby.

Crosby, the renowned author and management expert, was famous for boiling complicated ideas down to their essence. Never did he do this more effectively than when he was asked about the most important part of business coaching and management.

“Selecting the right person for the right job,” Crosby once said, “is the largest part of coaching.”

So simple it almost seems like a truism, this statement is perhaps the key to building a great sales team: without the right ingredients, you’ll never get the right results. No matter how great your product is or how competent your management team, if you don’t have the right sales reps in place, your sales team won’t execute effectively.

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Sales leaders can (and do) spend a lot of time perfecting their forecasting, hopping on calls to help their reps close deals, and implementing new and improved incentive structures ‒ but they tend to devote a disproportionately small amount of time to by far the most important part of sales success, hiring.

And, ultimately, I guess I’m not too surprised. Hiring great sales reps is hard. It’s frustrating; it’s tedious; and it’s underappreciated.

But, just as Philip Crosby knew, it’s far too important to brush aside. 

Building a Team of Rockstar Reps

No sales leader I know has taken Crosby’s advice to heart as completely as HubSpot’s Mark Roberge. As the first member of HubSpot’s sales team, Mark was tasked with building out a sales team that now numbers in the hundreds.

Over that time, Mark focused an almost unbelievable amount of his time and energy perfecting the way he finds, interviews and onboards new sales reps. While other sales executives might have spent most of their first months on the job leaning on their rolodex, trying to close deals themselves, or poaching candidates from their competitors, Mark fastidiously went about creating a scalable system for hiring.

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The main components of this system were:

  • Performing a regression analysis to identify the 5 most important traits of a sales rep who succeeds at HubSpot.
  • Perfecting his interview strategy to spot candidates with these traits
  • Establishing an onboarding system that maximizes each rep’s input

In the long run, this strategy certainly paid off. Mark grew the sales team from 1 to over 200 members, and was repeatedly recognized for his sales strategy and skills.

For years, Mark’s hiring strategy was secreted away between HubSpot’s walls. Other sales leaders looked on covetously as they desperately tried to recreate Mark’s team-building successes. But Mark kept his lips sealed.

The Secret’s Out

Until now.

We were able to sit down with Mark recently and get his sales hiring strategy down for posterity. What’s more, we were even able to get the actual data he uses to evaluate candidates and find the best person for the job.

We’ve used the information in this guide to inform our own hiring and onboarding process, and I’m confident it will help you fill your sales team with rockstar reps, whether you’re part of a small but growing startup or a mature, successful sales teams.

The 5 Traits of Successful Sales Reps

Mark’s guide to hiring is invaluable for many reasons, but one of the most powerful components is his list of the 5 most important traits for inside sales reps.

  • Coachability. This is the #1 predictor of success, and I measure it in interviews by always including role plays, giving feedback, and then watching to see how they incorporate my notes.
  • Curiosity. A rep who naturally asks great questions, listens well and is always trying to dig deeper is someone who won’t rest on their laurels and will make sure that they’re always improving.
  • Prior Success. It doesn’t necessarily have to be prior success in our exact space, but prior success in some sales capacity is a really good indicator of high performance. If they were one of the top performers among hundreds of other reps at their prior job, they’ll succeed in any environment.
  • Intelligence. I measure intelligence by how quickly someone can internalize new concepts and repeat them back to me during an interview.
  • Passion. We have a sales rep who is a Sloan MBA and she is super-smart, but she has no experience in sales. Yet she has passion. She loves working with people, loves selling. And she is ok hearing “no” hundreds of times per week, which is hard for a lot of people.

If you want to learn Mark’s other secrets for hiring rockstar reps, get the FREE eBook now.

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Mike Baker
Mike Baker is the Content Strategy Manager at InsightSquared, where he helps distribute original eBooks, articles and guides about data-driven sales and marketing. He has a BA in English and Journalism from Oberlin College.
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