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How to Hire Top Sales Talent

Friday, June 19th, 2015

Your biggest competition is NOT other companies — it’s your customers. Global Insights business CEB identifies that today’s customers are able “to learn on their own, meaning they determine needs, and establish buying criteria and budgets before reaching out to suppliers.” In fact, they are already 57% of their way through the buying process before they even contact your sales team.

In an increasingly connected world, where information about your products or services can be accessed immediately, it’s easy for customers to compare your offer against your competitors and to make decisions about who to contact. In this environment hiring top sales talent is more critical than it’s ever been. Particularly important are salespeople who are proactive and willing to engage the customer and challenge their thinking, rather than be cowed by the well-informed customer who has done their research.

A massive opportunity still exists to influence customer buying decisions in your favour, if your salespeople are willing and able to make the most of every interaction they have with a prospective customer. Although sales environments may vary from setting to setting, success in sales invariably requires new business generation, which is ultimately measured by increased revenue.

Initiating contact with prospective buyers is a critical activity for salespeople, and failure to undertake “prospecting” for new business is the most frequently cited reason for poor sales performance. Sales consultancy BSRP’s research shows that 80% of all new hires selected into sales positions fail to complete their first year in sales. Why? Despite comprehensive sales training, expensive sales support, generous commission schemes and competitive products, they don’t sell enough. Why Not? Because they don’t have enough prospective customers to sell to. For them, sales prospecting is emotionally uncomfortable and so they don’t initiate contact with prospective buyers on a sufficiently regular basis to sustain the levels of activity that are required to feed their sales pipeline.

A salesperson can be great at other elements of the sales process but if they are not initiating contact with potential buyers on a consistent and continuous basis then those sales will dry up, regardless of the product quality, sales training provided, incentives offered or market conditions.

By contrast, including an assessment of sales prospecting skills when seeking to hire top sales talent will make a significant difference to your bottom line. One client who changed their recruitment process attributed a 37% increase in sales per person (£28k per person), amounting to a net sales increase of £1.8million per annum for the business.