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How to Scale Sales Development through Hiring Excellence

Scaling Sales Development Through Hiring
Sales Development

Editor’s Note: Recap post of the deck presented at Sales Hacker Series in Boston by Morris Porter, VP of Sales at SiteSpect.

No matter who you are, you are either hiring or you are trying to get hired. And hiring is the most important part of scaling your sales team and keeping it healthy.

New hires are the lifeblood of your team. For every new person you bring aboard, you get a new perspective and fresh skills to take your business to the next level. Sales teams absolutely need new hires.

But the challenge (for both salespeople and sales managers) is that there are a lot of lousy sales hires out there. Some of them are only skillful at selling themselves.

Cost of making a bad hire?

According to the U.S Department of Labor it costs your business at least 30% of that person’s first year earnings in the event of a bad hire. So if you’re hiring a BDR that’s making $80,000 per year, almost $27,000 is lost. Poof. Gone.

And in reality, the costs are probably quite a bit higher… In addition to the monetary loss, you’re also looking at morale challenges. When the bad hire realizes they’re not a fit, they are miserable. Then the team starts to feel miserable. Before you know it, everyone feels badly that someone doesn’t belong, and it only gets worse after the bad hire gets fired or has to quit well before they should.

Moreover, it’s expensive to recruit, train, and hire people the first time around, but it’s even more expensive to do it all over again! Those of you who have been through training at large companies know that they spend a lot of money on that. At startups, we’re taking a lot of our time on-boarding people, and our time is the only resource that is NOT renewable.

What’s more,  the company’s reputation can suffer. Everyone is on Glassdoor these days, so people know which companies hire quickly or which companies burn their salespeople out fast. You don’t want to hurt your company’s reputation by hiring the wrong people.

Potential Hiring Pitfalls

There are many areas where things can go wrong in your hiring process, where poor hires make it on to your sales team. Here are my 11 hiring pitfalls to avoid in your hiring process:

  1. Hiring solely by “gut” or simply “winging it”
  2. Skimping on the job description
  3. Using prior experience as the sole criteria for hiring
  4. Failing to backchannel your candidates
  5. No practical component to the interview
  6. Not taking your current team into account
  7. Hiring a “project”
  8. Going it alone
  9. Failing to shoot for diversity
  10. Interviewing for expediency
  11. Failing to consider succession

Overcome Hiring Pitfalls

Overcome these 11 hiring pitfalls by investing in your hiring process and taking these following pieces of advice into consideration when you’re scaling or looking to scale your sales team.

Have a Comprehensive Job Description

A comprehensive job description is where it all starts. It’s a great discovery process because when you reevaluate the job description (even if you’ve had it in place for a long time) it gives you a better perspective of what that job requires and the persona you want to hire for that role. You’re going to learn a lot by going back through your job descriptions. It’s imperative that the job description resonate with candidates, because it’s hard to find good salespeople.

Search for Attitude Intelligence & Resilience

I’m a big believer in hiring on attitude, intelligence, and resilience because you just can’t teach that. Somebody has the guts to be in sales, or they just don’t. No matter how much time you spend, you’re never going to teach guts.

Don’t look solely for “plug and play” experience either. It doesn’t work that way in my experience. You really need to find somebody who is culturally aligned and who will improve your team.

Use References and Always Backchannel

It’s a LinkedIn world! I can’t tell you how much time I’ve saved by getting a resume from a recruiter that says “This lady is the best thing since sliced bread” and I look on LinkedIn and my friend Bill knows her! “Bill, what do you think about Sally Smith?” “Run, don’t walk.” Leverage your network to vet candidates.

And the real lesson behind this is, don’t burn bridges. People will kill you in your career without you even knowing about it because you have some burned bridges behind you.

Take a Test-Drive

Include practical exercises in your hiring process. It’s crazy how many people are good at selling themselves, but will never be able to sell anything else for you. “Pressure test” good candidates, by making them do a mock sales call, with you playing the role of the customer. It will give you such a good sense of how they’re going to behave on the phone.

Another great exercise for candidates is a 30/60/90 day presentation on how they join your company. It’s fine that the candidate knows nothing about what will actually happen if they join, but what I’m looking at is if they know how to write, use PowerPoint, as it gives me some insight into how they think. And to be honest, I get some great ideas from those slides.

Look for Gaps in Your Current Team

Candidates can fill “gaps.” Diversity on your team can make a huge difference. It’s not good to have a sales team of solely college-aged guys, all wearing polos and chinos on the sales floor. Avoid the temptation to hire the exact same profile every time. Diverse teams are so much more capable and resilient in the face of adversity. And diverse teams just possess more skills and perspective than a team made up of all the same profiles.

Don’t Hire a “Project”

You’re not going to change people. Period. Those annoying flaws (always late, interrupts you when you’re talking, etc.) are only going to get worse later on. I can’t stress this enough; don’t hire a project.

Get Many Perspectives

Don’t “go it alone”. The greater number of eyeballs you have involved in the interview process, the better it will be. I’m a huge fan of peer interviews. It’s good for both the candidate and the team, because they feel they have a stake in the process.

Patience is a Virtue

Don’t rush the process! Be patient. Hiring is one of the most important things to do as a business owner and sales leader. You’re picking your neighbors. You spend more time with the people that you hire than you will with your own family. Make sure you hire the right people.

Hire for Today…and for Tomorrow

It’s simple. Your team is constantly evolving and today’s entry-level hires will be tomorrow’s leaders. Hire accordingly.

Morris Porter

Morris Porter, Vice President of Worldwide Sales at Alpha Software is a seasoned sales and marketing professional with an excellent track record of quota over-achievement, team-building, mentoring, company bootstrapping and sales expansion.