Your business is growing and you want to hire sales people, but what do you need to do before making any sales hires?

There’s an old Irish joke about the lost foreign tourist in the countryside who asks a local for directions. Upon being told where the tourist is trying to get to, the local replies ‘Oh. Well, if I was going there, I wouldn’t start from here.’

Think about it.

We’re reminded of this every time a Founder or CEO is telling us how many problems they have had trying to build a sales team. The symptoms are pretty generic and easily recognisable: Consistent underperformance. Inaccurate Forecasting. Pipelines that never seem to close. A new excuse every month. Any of this sound familiar?

The causes, however, are usually less clear. Until we dig a little deeper into how the sales people were hired in the first place. It never fails to amaze us how anaemic sales recruitment processes are within Growth Technology companies – especially when compared to other roles in the business. The interview might have been a chat in a coffee shop. The rounded assessment is that the candidate seems to get on well with people. And once the words ‘Marketing’ and/or ‘Business Development’ appear in the CV, we’re good to go, eh? Therein lies the problem.

Getting your sales hires right 

While building a brilliant, high performance sales team is a complex task, there are 3 fundamentals that you need to consider to at least ensure that you are starting from the right place:

  1. Recognise how important sales is to your business: devote the appropriate amount of time, diligence & effort into acquiring that talent.
  2. Understand how difficult Entrepreneurial (ie your) Sales is and the sophisticated skills required to execute it to a level of high performance.
  3. Recruit with a laser focus on vetting for those skills

We’ll talk to the complexity and sophistication of the Entrepreneurial Sales skill set later in this series. But the simplest illustration of how misguided most sales hires are is to compare them with other hiring processes in the typical tech business. How rigorously does it vet its coders for example? How did those coders prove their competency at interview? How many candidates to get the best hire? Does it always hire the cheapest?

And yet – time and time again – the tech business will bypass all of that rigour with its sales hires.

Among other things, the best sales people have a mix of experience, complex cognitive skills & a brutally resilient mindset. The best sales teams are built not by accident but by science, data & design.

If that’s what you’re looking for, we wouldn’t start in the coffee shop.

If you’ve made a sales hire, or are struggling with an existing team, you can check out our tips on how to manage sales talent, for maximum success.  

Looking for help with your sales recruitment, management or execution, or have any burning questions about something you’ve read in this article? Feel free to get in touch! 

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