Your agency will have trouble growing without a skilled new business professional.
But finding the right person to take on this role can be difficult. Inefficiencies and turnover are costly, but the damage to your agency's sales and goals can be even more detrimental.
When it comes to making hiring decisions, we always advise that it is better to lose sleep before you hire than after. In other words, take your time, carefully look for people who have the right levels of talent, fit and experience, and whatever you do, never compromise in the area of talent.
Fit and experience are always the easiest to spot, and they often cause a lot of “glare” during the interview process. Unfortunately, it is common for a candidate who lacks the natural talent to become a superstar in a job to still have the right stuff on her résumé and get along well with everyone during the interview process. Even the best hiring managers can be blinded by chemistry during the selection process. Don't let this be the reason you make a poor hire.
Undoubtedly, the best way to uncover an individual’s innate talent for a sales job is to use a validated interview instrument. Using a sales talent interview will allow you to gain a deeper understanding of your candidate’s potential. This insight will allow you to not only make a smart hire but also give you the information you need to coach and develop the new business professional in a way that will maximize her talents after she joins your team.
When hiring your next new business professional, consider these four areas before sending out a contract:
Work style tells us about a person’s energy level as well as her processes. During an interview, every candidate will tell you she works hard, but that will mean something completely different to one person than it does to another. You will want to be on the lookout for those that are work-a-love-its. This rare breed thrives when they have a lot going on, and they feel most productive when they have several plates spinning at once. Drive is not enough though. You can’t have all those plates crashing to the floor, so you also need to make sure the person has a disciplined approach to managing chaos. Look for evidence of this in a daily to-do list or email habits. You will also spot it if the person always arrives on time, follows up after each interview, and maintains a generally organized approach.
A new business developer needs to actively seek commitment from others to achieve sustainable success. There are two things you will want to be on the lookout for when it comes to these commitment-seeking talents. First, you will want to consider how assertive your candidate is. Does she comfortably move the process along? People with this talent are often considered leaders and “natural closers” because they effortlessly move the sales process forward and maintain control every step of the way. They are also able to use persuasion to overcome objection when necessary.
The other area to consider is the person's ability to ask questions and gain information that allows her to figure out the challenges of a prospect and develop business opportunities. Ideally, you want someone in this position to be able to discover challenges, come up with great solutions, and excel when persuading others to see things her way.
Sales isn't only about building relationship, but this is certainly an important part of the job. Top sellers shine in two key areas within this theme. First, they are able to build rapport with people easily, and they maintain a positive outlook even after facing rejection or disappointment. Secondly, they are able to individualize their approach, sensing the unique needs of each prospect and customer, which allows them to build strong bonds of trust.
While all top sales performers have a strong level of drive, the specific motivators will vary greatly from person to person. You will want to keep your eyes open for two different types of motivators that the best salespeople have in common. First, look for a strong desire to compete -- and win. You will be able to spot this easily by asking the candidate to share a few accomplishments that made her proud. If she discusses times she beat a specific benchmark, set a record, surpassed someone else, or even topped her personal best, that’s a good sign.
Strong sellers are also motivated by the desire to run their own business and achieve tangible evidence of their success. You will see evidence of this in their money motivation, continual desire for growth, a need to work independently, and stories that involve meeting with high-level people such as the CEO of a company.
It’s not easy to find people who have the makeup of a top performer. Possessing all of the natural talents listed above, it can feel like looking for a needle in a haystack. But I assure you, searching and waiting for the complete package is worth it. Resist becoming blinded by the glare of good experience and a great personality. Instead, raise the bar, and hold out for talent. Your marketing team and sales forecasts will benefit.
Originally published Dec 1, 2014 2:00:00 AM, updated July 28 2017