Recruiting Sales People – What You Should Really Do

By | February 16, 2007

Sales organisations are always trying to recruit who they think are the best salespeople.

The problem is they sometimes don’t understand what their customers are looking for in these salespeople. Our own work in this area consistently shows that customers value subject specialism and the ability to create insightful solutions as the most desirable capability.

Unfortunately, the sales organisation will often value a professional approach as the most important capability, thinking this is what customers want.

It gets even more interesting when you analyse what sales organisations actually look to recruit. Interpersonal skills always come out top. Surprisingly (or perhaps not) the charming potential recruit will always be ahead of the less charming person who really knows their stuff.

It gets worse, because before the recruiting organisation looks at subject specialism/insightful solutions they will look for organisational/time management skills. The old stereotype of the articulate, productive salesperson is still strong. However, in the age of the empowered customer being courted by many suppliers, where functional quality can often be taken for granted, the informed, perceptive, and master of their subject salesperson is at a premium.

Of course salespeople need to apply this knowledge correctly; ‘anorak selling’ is not what we are promoting here, but the point is an obvious one, it doesn’t matter how slick or professional any selling skills are if the depth of content isn’t there to back it up.

The Cinderella training activity in many sales organisations is product knowledge (in its broadest sense), something that is often left to induction, chance or a salesperson’s own initiative.

By getting this right salespeople will stand out, by having something to offer that competitors’ salespeople struggle to do. Offer insight that enables the customer to make smarter decisions, the holy grail of anybody purchasing anything.

If you would like to improve your recruitment practices, or simply understand more about what makes a high performing sales team please contact us.

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