Tired of Sales Turnover? 6 Tips to Hire & Retain Top Sales Performers

Have you ever been disappointed by hiring a salesperson that didn’t work out?

If the answer is yes, you’re not alone. Finding “rock star”  salespeople that fit your culture and consistently reach their numbers is hard to come by.

In fact, according to an assessment of over one million sales candidates by the Objective Management Group, only 26% of sales professionals are successful. That means 3 out of every 4 candidates hired in 2017 will not meet their goals.  

To help you overcome these costly hiring challenges, here are six tips for selecting, hiring and retaining top sales performers. 

1. Create the Ideal Candidate Profile

The ideal candidate profile should provide a detailed account of the skills, experience, personality characteristics and other qualifications that are essential to the position. More than a job description, the candidate profile serves as an internal document used to evaluate each candidate to accurately score compatibility. 

Criteria to include:

  • Ideal location 
  • Product/industry knowledge 
  • Personality characteristics
  • Selling skills (hunter, farmer, consultative sell, etc.) 
  • Compensation range and structure
  • Travel requirements
  • Quotas and performance goals

To ensure everyone is on the same page, outline your ideal candidate profile with your hiring team before you begin the recruiting process. Recruiting will run more smoothly and you will know exactly what type of candidate you’re looking for. 

2. Develop Your Recruitment Strategy

In today’s competitive landscape, it’s becoming harder to find quality sales talent. Be sure to have well-defined strategy in place. Know exactly how you plan to pursue, attract, and select your candidates. 

Your recruitment strategy should demonstrate your value to candidates and show why the opportunity you are offering is better than your competitors. 

Here are some things to consider when demonstrating your value: 

  • Are your products top-of-the-line in your industry?
  • Is your compensation package highly competitive?
  • Can you offer a top performing territory?
  • Do you provide a great sales environment with a winning culture?

Remember, quality salespeople are also examining your organization to determine if it’s the right fit for them. 

3. Take Time to Proactively Source Candidates

It’s no secret successful salespeople are rarely searching job boards to find their next opportunity. Posting your job description and waiting for candidates to pour in won’t get you the results you’re looking for.

Tactfully pursuing candidates is a great way to gain an edge in your market. It gives you the opportunity to expand your potential candidate pool, and puts you in a better position to recruit the best talent available.

LinkedIn is a great tool to use for sourcing candidates.  Use the search capabilities to enter the criteria from your ideal candidate profile.

Although sourcing can be time-consuming, it’s worth the effort. While every person you connect with may be a viable candidate, but this correspondence should not be viewed as a waste of time. Making new connections and asking for referrals will help to expand your network and fill positions in the future. 

4. Use a Sales Assessment to Screen Candidates 

Sales assessments are most effective when used at the beginning of your screening process. It allows you to quickly weed out candidates who aren’t a fit.

Personality assessments are great, but they only provide one piece of the puzzle. Using an assessment specifically for sales will help to identify the sales DNA of your candidates to accurately gauge selling skills.

Use an assessment that allows for customization to the sales role. For example; are you looking for a hunter with great prospecting skills or a farmer who quickly builds relationships. Know what skills are most important to you and make sure your candidate possesses them.  

If you are recruiting for sales positions and need help identifying the right person to hire, sign up for a Free Trial Assessment

5. Prepare for the Interview Process

One of the biggest mistakes hiring managers make is not adequately planning for the interview process. Preparing questions in advance is a great way to ensure your interviews are well-organized and you’re able to collect all the necessary information to make the right hiring decision. 

As you begin to outline your interview process, start by determining what steps your process will include. Be sure to also consider:

  • What interview format is best (phone, Skype, in-person, etc.)
  • Who will be involved in each step of the process?
  • What are your objectives and goals for each interview?
  • What are next steps after each phase is completed?  

Having a defined interview process will keep candidates engaged and will allow for faster hiring decisions. There’s nothing more frustrating than losing a great candidate to another offer because you moved too slow. 

6. Provide a Structured Onboarding Program

Did you know 35% of companies spend $0 on onboarding?(source

The average cost of a bad sales hire exceeds $115,000. An onboarding program to ensure your new hire’s success must be a top priority. In fact, organizations with a standardized onboarding process experience 54% greater new hire productivity, in addition to a 50% greater new hire retention.

When done right, your onboarding program should provide your new salespeople with the right tools, knowledge, and resources to be successful. It should be tailored to the needs of the individual and tie into a long-term developmental program that provides continuous coaching and training. 

Your onboarding program should include a 30-60-90 day plan that focuses training on your industry, tools, products, and processes. An effective onboarding program will maximize new hire potential by preparing them for success. 

Break the cycle of high sales turnover by having a systematic approach for hiring and retaining top sales talent. 

Not hitting your Sales Goals? 3 Tips for Record Sales in 2017

Entering the New Year, many executives are reflecting on how to increase revenues.

If you’re coming off an excellent 2016 you may be looking at how to replicate your success, and if it wasn’t such a great year you are probably trying to figure out how to right the ship.

No matter the case, CEOs and Sales Executives want to improve and grow their annual revenues.

To make 2017 your best sales year yet, here are 3 insights to help you exceed your goals.

Put an Actionable Sales Process in Place

Companies with a documented sales process close more deals – it’s that simple. According to Salesforce, businesses with a sales playbook are 33% more likely to be high-performers, yet 40% don’t have a sales playbook. 

With a documented sales process, your sales representatives are armed with actionable steps to systematically navigate and execute the sales process. Clarity on next steps will help to speed up the sales cycle, improve productivity and increase closing efficiency.

When creating or optimizing your sales process, make sure to cover these 3 critical areas:

  • Outline your sales process: Outlining and documenting your sales process gets your team on the same page. Aligning your sales process to your buyer’s needs will define what actions need to be taken in order to attract and close new business.
  • Define your steps and KPIs: It’s important to define the steps, stages, and key performance indicators ( KPIs ) for success. It’s great to have sales goals, but without clear steps to meet those goals, you’ll struggle to get there.
  • Automate your sales process: Leveraging a CRM tool is the best way to streamline your sales process, track activity, and manage your pipeline. Tailoring the platform to your unique sales process will help to automate sales – increasing your team’s efficiency. 

Example of a sales process.

How effective is your sales process? Schedule a free sales process evaluation

Recruit the Right Salespeople

On average 67% of all salespeople fail to meet their sales quota. This is an expensive problem to fix, but the best way to increase your odds of boosting sales is to have the right people with the right skills for YOUR sales system.

Here are 5 steps to take to ensure you select and hire the best talent for your team. 

1. Define your ideal candidate profile: Before you begin recruiting, it’s important to understand your ideal candidate. Work with your team to understand the specific competencies, product knowledge, and personality traits that are needed to be successful. This profile will serve as your benchmark and qualification criteria for evaluating candidates.

2. Consider your recruitment strategy: You’ve established your ideal candidate profile, you need to map your scouting strategy. Defining your approach creates clarity to identify, attract, and select the right candidate for your needs.

3. Structure your interview process: Before you begin scheduling phone and in-person interviews, you should collaborate with other relevant stakeholders to determine what you want to learn about your candidates on the front-end. Like most things in life, being prepared is half the battle for a smoother process. Use the candidate profile to get a clear idea of the qualifications you’re seeking to add to your team. Let it guide you to ask specific questions that will give you deeper insights into your candidate’s relevant experience and compatibility with your sales environment.

4. Incorporate a sales skills assessment: To accurately predict sales performance it’s going to require more than a personality test. Sales skills assessments will measure the candidate’s sales DNA to ensure you hire the perfect match for your business and sales environment. Include the assessment at the beginning of your screening process to dramatically reduce the time and energy spent interviewing unqualified candidates. Choose an assessment that is customizable to your ideal candidate profile and sales environment to get a true gauge on compatibility.

5. Don’t stop once you’ve given an offer: Your onboarding and training program will play a considerable role in the success of your new hire. You should begin developing your on-boarding program prior to making a hiring decision.  Your on-boarding program should define the tools and resources needed for success. Providing the proper support and setting clear objectives will go a long way to accelerating ramp-up and reducing turnover.
How much is a bad sales hire costing you? Check out this sales hiring mistake calculator.

Implement the Right Tools and Technology

Utilizing the right technology will help to automate your sales process, increase sales productivity and improve efficiency. 

The importance of choosing the right technology cannot be understated. Using the right tools to track metrics and analytics will provide valuable information to help you make informed decisions.

With the wide variety of technologies available, below are 3 steps to help you determine the right option for your needs.  

  • Define requirements: Not all tools are created equal. Clearly defining your user and technical requirements will help you determine the features and functionality your sales team requires.
  • Keep the future in mind: Whatever technology you choose, consider your needs down the line. If your business grows exponentially, will that tool scale with you? Companies that only consider their present needs may end up requiring a more robust platform in future. In most cases it’s better to over buy and turn on new features as you need them, rather than migrating to a new system at a later time.
  • Plan your implementation and user training: Many organizations purchase a new system, but fail to establish an actionable plan for how to roll it out to their team. Not taking the time to properly plan your implementation and training needs will often lead to low adoption and improper use. For your team to use your sales tools effectively, it’s important to provide them with instructions and best practices. 

With your actionable sales process, the right team, and the appropriate technologies in place, you are well on your way to executing your vision and surpassing your sales goals in 2017 .

The New England Patriots and How to Build a Successful Sales Team

The New England Patriots is an excellent model for what a well-oiled machine is supposed to look like. Since Bill Belichick has been at the reigns, The Pats has perennially been a 12-win team. That includes one year with Matt Cassel at Quarterback, and this past season with Tom Brady serving a 4-game suspension). Over the course of 17 seasons, Belichick has won 14 division titles, racked up 26 postseason wins (the most postseason wins by an NFL head coach), 7 AFC championship games, and 5 Super Bowls.

There are many things people can say about the “hoodie”, but one thing no one can discount is his level of consistency.

Outside of his short and dry responses to questions from the media, Belichick’s process-oriented approach to the game has contributed a lot to New England’s dominance.

Let’s take a look at a few principles that organizations can learn from the New England Patriots when building a high performing sales system. 

Know your Strengths

The Patriots have never been perfect. The Patriots won Super Bowl 51 with a flawed defense against a high octane offense in the Atlanta Falcons. Identifying and leveraging their strengths over their weakness is what Belichick and his staff do well.

On the offensive side of the ball, they were missing their superstar Tight-End, Rob Gronkowski for the last half of the season. They didn’t have a dynamic receiver like Antonio Brown or Odell Beckham Jr. to cover the slack. They didn’t have a dominating defense like the Giants or the Seahawks’ “Legion of Boom”, yet they still found ways to win.

What’s their secret?

Belichick and his staff have a great track record of identifying and leveraging their strengths over their weakness.

Taking an honest assessment of what your sales force does well gives you clarity of what to do in the long run. It allows you to have a bird’s eye view of your sales operations, and take inventory on what actions should be taken to improve efficiently.

The Patriot coaching staff understands there is no way they can be great at everything.

Understanding the DNA of your sales team will help you determine how to build around your weaknesses, what skills your salespeople need to be trained on, and the adjustments to the sales process to overcome your deficiencies.

Create A Sales Plan That Aligns With Your Goals

“In their eyes, Belichick was playing a very strategic, intricate game of chess while everybody else was playing checkers.” – Curtis Martin on how much his former teammates loved Belichick.

In sales, your version of winning the Super Bowl is to meet your sales quota for the year.

No other team in NFL history has attained the level of success as New England. At the core of what influences their operation is the effectiveness of their system.

They approach each season by starting with the end goal in mind. Being clear on what your goals are and the benchmarks you need to achieve are crucial. Belichick and his staff stay on top of what the trends in the league are and adjust their tactics accordingly.

One of the biggest perks to having a clear and concise system, is everyone understands their role and responsibilities.

The Patriots attention to detail and preparation stands out from a lot of other NFL organizations. They lean heavily on data and analytics and utilize their insights to develop their strategy. In contrast, the San Diego Chargers, who have experienced some success over the years have struggled to sustain it.

When asked about his thoughts about analytics and how it effects his game plan, Chargers coach Mike McCoy said that it didn’t. McCoy said, “I’m going to go with my gut decision on those things. No one can tell me on a piece of paper this is the right thing or the wrong thing to do.” Well, we all saw how that turned out. The Chargers ended up with a 5-11 record, they requested to relocate cities, and McCoy lost his job.

Relying on your gut instincts and not having a clear sales plan or playbook is a recipe for disaster.

Having a documented sales process and system is at the core of growing your business. It allows you to be clear about who the right people are for your team’s unique needs and creates transparency for your team.

Have The Right Players and Personnel

“You go to the draft board and think, ‘Here’s a nose tackle. Who needs a nose tackle?’ Well, eight teams in front of you need a nose tackle, and there’s [only] two nose tackles. It’s something you have to figure out where you can get the players to play in your system.” – Coach Belichick

Although it’s Belichick that gets all the accolades as being one of the greatest coaches ever, he didn’t do it alone. New England has some of the best analytics and coaches in the game.

Ernie Adams has served as the Director of Football Research for 16 seasons. Belichick and Adams regularly conduct a deep analysis of game film, stats and trends. These insights are used to develop plays and schemes, prioritize draft picks and determine who they should go after in free agency.   

In your sales organization, you need someone you can lean on to advise on the types of sales professionals you need for your system. 

Now, you may be saying to yourself, it’s easy to be successful when you have an elite Quarterback to execute the game plan. It’s easy to forget that the 5-time Super Bowl MVP wasn’t supposed to be here. Tom Brady was a backup QB, who was drafted in the 6th round of the 2001 draft.

What Belichick and his team understand more than anything, is strength is NOT the same as talent. When Brady was coming out of college, scouts said that Tom lacked the tools to be a starting Quarterback in the NFL. It turned out that what he lacked in talent he was able to overcompensate for with his football IQ.

The difference between the New England approach to free agency and others is that The Patriots focus on selecting the RIGHT player for their system, not necessarily the best.

When the Pats decided to upgrade their wide receiver core this past offseason, Belichick could’ve easily splurged. Mohamed Sanu, was a big name in free agency last season, but Belichick ended up signing Chris Hogan. Sanu ended up signing with Atlanta for $32 million with $14 million guaranteed (653 yards receiving and 4 touchdowns), while Hogan signed a 3-year $12 million dollar deal (680 yards receiving and 4 touchdowns). Who got the better deal?

No matter what your feelings are about the Patriots, their close to 20-years of dominance is unparalleled, especially in the salary cap era. New England’s ability to assess their strengths, recruit and train players that fit their system, and the uncanny ability to abstain from investing too much in low return free agents is the crux of their longevity.   

Everybody wants to have a team full of “Rock Star salespeople”. The truth is, the sum is always greater than the parts, and nobody does that better than the New England Patriots.

By creating and defining a sales system, identifying and building around your strengths, creating a recruiting strategy to attract and retain the right salespeople for YOURorganization, and having the right tools and technology in place, you’re in a great position to exceed your sales targets.