Hiring mistakes can prove costly for small businesses, but it's perhaps nowhere as critical as when putting together your first sales team. After all, every business relies on sales to grow, and failure to hire a strong sales team can cause stagnation and loss of valuable leads and sales opportunities.
Here are the most common sales team hiring mistakes to watch out for:
Going in unprepared. Too often, over-extended managers and sales recruiters fail to adequately prepare themselves for the hiring process. They attempt a "blanket search" for candidates, rather than determining precisely what type of sales rep is most needed - a person skilled at prospecting or proposal writing, relationship building or closing. Narrowing the search for the best candidate means first undertaking a thorough review of what the position will require. Will they be calling on large companies or small businesses? Selling directly or via a partner channel? Focusing on inbound queries or outbound cold calls? Answering these questions paves the way to a more focused candidate search.
Falling short on becoming an "employer of choice." Even the best-placed recruiting ad won't automatically snare quality candidates, mostly because the "sales superstars" are already employed and unlikely to be looking for a new gig. A more effective approach involves achieving "employer of choice" status in your industry, thereby attracting the interest of sales reps both gainfully employed and those looking for work. To attain this designation, consider how your company is represented online. Do you continuously update the company website and career page, as well as on social media channels, promoting lively and informative content about your industry? In time, you'll be more likely to stand out as a thought leader and attract more interest from qualified sales candidates.
Asking the wrong interview questions. If all you do during an interview is have the candidate repeat what's on their resume (facts about education, experience, skills, etc.), you've wasted a great opportunity to get beneath the surface. Focus instead on asking probing, open-ended questions that offer insight as to whether this individual has compelling sales skills and seems to be a good fit for your company. Include "real-life" questions that pose situational sales challenges, and invite the candidate to offer their approach to resolving those challenges.
Hiring with your gut. Never leave hiring to a "gut decision." Instead, advises business author Dave Kerpen, "Appreciate the uniqueness of your sales context, establish a theory of the hiring criteria that will work for you, and be disciplined about scoring every candidate against that criteria."
Making an inadequate offer. If you seek to build a world-class sales team, don't make the mistake of offering inadequate compensation to your desired candidate. The best salespeople expect to receive above-market compensation for their skills and experience. If your offer falls short, you likely won't hear from these individuals again - and also risk a negative reputation in the rarefied sales rep community. Research compensation packages offered by other businesses in your industry and be ready to make a realistic, market-aligned offer that matches the candidate's expectations.
Not checking references. Some employers still skip the due diligence aspect of recruiting. Every great candidate should be able to provide great references - "one from a boss, one from a colleague, and one from a client," notes recruitment consultant Kareem Williams. "Getting sincere and honest opinions can help you make better decisions, instead of being fooled by a charming interviewee."
Regardless of your industry, hiring the right employee is often an essential element for success and growth. Avoid common hiring mistakes and get the best people on board, before your competitors do!