My wife Kathleen Booth and I were featured in an interview with John Shea, ISA’s Director of Training, on The Funnel, Alignment Group’s sales and marketing strategy podcast. You see, Kathleen and I founded Quintain Marketing about 10 years ago, and while the marketing that we continually produce for our clients is consistently successful, we’ve also consistently had one repeated failure:
Selling Ourselves Through Our Sales People
We hired great people, lovely people, people that were outgoing, friendly, with the perfect sales personalities… or so we thought every time. But for whatever reason, our efforts never translated into a huge amount of revenue. And honestly, we can’t say whether that’s because they weren’t actually great sales people, or because we didn’t provide the right environment for them to succeed in. We never had a documented sales process. We never had a managerial framework for tracking their performance. We’d essentially bring them in and say find leads and grow our business. We had them pretty much start from scratch.
Realistically, we could have had the best salespeople in the world working for us, but we just never gave them conditions that would allow them to succeed.
Our Aha! Moment
John Shea sat down with us a few months ago and really fleshed out the entire sales hiring process. And that’s when our mistakes became more clear. For us, something was missing. We hired different people, and time after time, it didn’t work out. Which means there was something going on internally. And there was: We’d been very guilty of hiring subjectively, thinking that someone’s personality is enough to make them a strong sales rep. Bu that’s not the case; those people aren’t really who we need. We should have been using assessments and other sales enablement tools, things that really allow our decisions to be completely objective.
Why Did We Hire Our Own Sales People?
We could have hired someone to help us hire, a coach, but we chose not to, primarily on the basis of cost. We kept thinking that it would be cheaper to just do it ourselves… So we did. we came up with our own hiring process, our candidate description, our own commission structure… But after numerous bad hires (figuring that each bad hire costs around $70,000), it became clear that after nine years of trying to do our hiring ourselves, that certainly wasn’t the case.
Our Story Is a Common One
We go out to events, marketing events, inbound events, and we hear this story time after time, especially from other small and medium businesses. And the truth is, that while those businesses could hire someone to do their hiring for them, they don’t want to spend the thousands of dollars on the investment. Even though they know that at the end of the day that what they spend on a bad hire could far surpass the cost of a hiring coach (as well as taking so much more time), business owners just aren’t motivated.
Hiring an Inbound Sales Rep
There are other ways to improve your hiring process. But you have to start with an understanding that sales reps are different. You’re hiring for a unique position. You’re looking for someone that fits a profile. While you do have to do know who you’re looking for in terms of your expectations, you need to look objectively. You need someone, at least in the Inbound world, who can manage and nurture their leads through researching and understanding before they ask for information and money.
There are a few steps you can take to improve your hiring process:
- Establish a profile for this person that is primarily skillset focused
- Write your employment ad and get it out in the right places
- Assess your candidates: You need to know from the start if they’ll fit, if they’ll be coachable and trainable, and if they come reccomended
- Interview them: Your questions will need to be layered. After all, Marcus Sheridan from The Sales Lion often says that it’s not until someone’s third answer that you uncover the truthful answer… don’t be afraid to dig.
You Might Still Need Sales Help
When it comes to hiring an inbound sales person (remember that in this day in age, all sales reps should have some inbound knowledge) you may still fail. In fact, you will fail. It takes a lot of time, effort, and practice to hire effective, successful sales reps. But it helps to follow the tried and true practice, one that is repeatible, objective and measurable. In doing so, you’ll create better outcomes for you and the rest of your company.
We understand that not everyone wants to (or can) hire a coach. And that is precisely why we developed Inbound Sales Academy, to help you learn to sell in a more affordable way.