Sales leaders and founders, are you sure you can identify the type of sales role your candidate is best suited for and will be most successful at?
2 to 3 times a month someone I know will come to me and say, "Hey, I've got a friend looking to find a new sale job, would you mind talking to her to see if you can help."
To which I always answer, "Sure, I've got 30 minutes for everyone, what kind of sales job is she looking for?"
The confused look on their face tells me all I need to know. My friend thinks a sales job is a sales job. So, the education begins. Inside or outside, hunting for net new business or taking on a book of business and growing and retaining it, and finally do they want to keep what they catch or give the fish over to someone else to clean and fry?
I laugh as their eyes get big and they respond with, "Uh, I have no idea. Can you just give them a call?"
"I'd be happy to," I say.
There are as many different types of sales positions as there are companies. As I've worked with different companies over the years, I've learned that everyone has a different definition of what a sales representative is, as well as a large variety of titles for those sales reps.
I like to say, "Titles are cheap and business cards are cheaper!"
To further illustrate my point, I just had a conversation with a woman last week who I was referred to by a former employee because she was looking for a new sales job. I started down my usual list of questions and at the end she said, "I don't mind hunting, but I want to keep the client after I land them."
"Perfect", I said, "That narrows the playing field considerably."
I was so happy that she understood the type of sales position that would satisfy her. This will make her search much easier.
Let me outline some differences between the 2 main sales position: Hunters and Gatherers.
Hunters - AKA Account Executive, Sales Development Reps, Business Development Reps, Regional Directors:
- Love the chase
- Don't know a stranger
- Naturally curious (some may say nosy)
- No interest in continuing a relationship after the sale
- Money-motivated and loves commission
- Love to be in control
- Enjoys the tension during the sales process
Gatherers - AKA Account Managers, Customer/Client Success Managers
- Helpers and nurturers by nature
- Enjoy the process of getting to know someone over time
- Moderate risk tolerance
- Enjoys being a subject matter expert and always knowing the answer
- Likes the consistency in their day-to-day work life
- Doesn't like "sales tension"
- Isn’t crazy about the uncertainty of commission
I usually describe the difference this way: Hunters are happy to make a baby and give birth to her, but would make terrible parents, due to lack of consistency and nurturing. Gatherers aren't interested in the pain of giving birth but can't wait to teach the child to walk, ride a bike, cheer them on when they hit a home run or perform a solo in the school musical, and can't wait to see them graduate from college and then walk them down the aisle.
I talk with founders and owners on a regular basis who are frustrated because the “rock star” sales rep they hired isn’t performing. After reviewing the resume, looking at their LinkedIn profile, and speaking with said “rock star”, it becomes obvious why they are failing, they’ve been set up to fail. They’re in the wrong sales seat!
So how do you go about figuring out if your candidate will be successful at your specific sales role? Here are a few strategies:
People are patterns
- Start by looking at their resume and LinkedIn profile. What type of sales positions have they had in the past? Is there a pattern? You can’t make an Account Manager into a Hunter and a Hunter doesn’t want to get phone calls about password resets! If they’ve always had a job where they kept what they caught, then it’s most likely that’s the sales role they’ll be most successful at.
The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior
- Use behavioral-based interview questions. These types of questions require the candidate to pull from past experience allowing you to start to determine how they’ll respond in a similar situation in the future.
Ask them to set up a call with 2 past supervisors
- Most companies will greatly limit, if they allow it at all, the information that a supervisor is allowed to share about past employees, but if your candidate makes a personal request of a past supervisor, most will agree to speak with you. Here’s the most important question, “What type of sales are they most likely to be successful at?”
Run them through an assessment and know what you’re looking for
- I believe in assessments. I also believe they are just 1 tool in the toolbox. About 40% of the time, I’m helping a company hire for sales, success, or marketing they have their own assessment. Of those who have their own assessment about 75% have no idea how to use the assessment to identify if their candidate is a good fit for the role they’re trying to fill or not. There is no reason to use or pay for an assessment if you don’t know what you want the results say about your candidate and the role they’ve applied for. If you aren’t using an assessment, please reach out to me and I’ll share with you the one I use with clients if they don’t have one.
Mis-hires happen, but they should be the exception, not the rule. Hiring the wrong sales rep is costly – time, money, and resources. It also hurts morale and damages your team’s trust. The top talent on your team wants to work with “A” players and if you bring in “C” players, they aren’t able to learn from them or be challenged by them.
If you would like help with your next hire, please reach out. I offer “Hiring Help” services for a flat fee.