When asked to conjure up an image of a sales person people in the UK tend to think of someone who has the gift of the gab, are "hale fellow well met" party people, someone whose interest is in squeezing the most money they can get from their customer and someone who once the sale is made moves on very quickly.
And of course we all probably know people who represent that particular image very well.
But we still need sales people to bring in sales, or your company withers and dies.
However, the best sales people aren’t like that.
So employing someone who is like that is doing your business a distinct disservice.
After all, do you want to be known as the company shark who preys on their customers?
There are 3 distinct problems with sales recruitment that I’ve seen.
They’re Just Like Me!
Recruiting someone because they’re like you is dangerous.
If you’re the business owner you’ve a vested interest in making sure your baby survives and thrives and you’ll do whatever it takes to make a sale. Someone else who maybe is rather like you doesn’t have your incentive (after all to them it’s a job) and they wont go that extra mile, they wont get up that half an hour early or go and see that troublesome client and sort out their issue for them.
Maybe, they want to run their own business (sound familiar?) and the job they’ve got with you is a stop-gap until they find the business they want to run, or maybe copy yours if you’re successful!
They’re Great At Customer Service
Maybe you’ve come across someone in a shop or other business who really pulls out all the stops to make sure your order is sorted out completely to your satisfaction. Or perhaps its one of your own team who your customers keep praising as being fantastic to deal with?
The next logical step is to get those great relationship skills working for you as a sales person, right?
Admittedly star salespeople are great with their prospects and customers. However, it’s important they have some backbone so they don’t offer customers all sorts of freebies that are great for the customer but leave the company with a small margin on the sale.
Some "customer service" oriented sales people almost side with the customer against your company. "Yes, we shouldn’t have done that, I completely see your point, we’ll make sure that your order value is discounted." That’s not something you want to hear coming from a sales persons lips unless the company has made a major mistake!
They’re One Of My Friends or Relatives
When recruiting a sales person you always want to feel you know a great about them. Understand how they would react in a given sales situation. Forsee how their strengths can best be used.
The problem with recruiting your friends and relatives is that even though you know them well socially you don’t usually know them in a business setting.
They may work out fantastically, and I have seen that work sometimes…
More often if it’s a relative they can cause problems in the company by using your relationship to get priority treatment for their prospects, or to get staff to do work they wouldn’t do for another sales person.
And relatives, or friends, may turn out to be the most appalling salesperson you’ve ever seen once they get in to gear. Then what do you do?
Think about how your relationship changes if you fire them? How do you discipline one of your relatives? How will it affect your wider circle of friends and relatives if you do bite the bullet and "let go" someone who’s under performing?
Sales Recruitment: Aim At The Best You Can Get
Limiting your recruitment pool to friends, relatives or people you’ve met severely restricts your choice of sales person.
Recruiting people you know or already think are great means you’ll tend to view them in a rosy light (known psychologically as "the Halo Effect"). That means you’re more likely to see all the positive aspects to the interview you have with them and downplay the negative.
If you’re interested in getting the best possible sales person for your business (and no they don’t need to cost the Earth) you need to have a complete process and, preferably, a proven sales test.
In my next post I’ll go through the steps to recruit the best possible sales person for your business.