The Next Big Thing in Sales Hiring


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The annual planning cycle is upon you. Your team is putting together their wish list for next year. New initiatives, processes, training and headcount are on their list. You want to go into next year confident the team will make the number.

If you’ve been following SBI’s blog lately, you’ve read a lot about the changing B2B landscape:

Changes in the external environment should have you thinking differently about internal factors. Namely, those charged with executing on the above actions. You may be asking yourself: Do I need to hire someone?

Based on the above, your answer should be yes. Legacy sales reps have not kept up with the times. There is a shift happening in the sales world. The requirements have changed. A new ‘A’ player rep has emerged. To make the number next year, you need the ability to hire this rep.

This post teaches CEOs how to plan for ‘A’ player hires for next year.

Register for SBI’s 7th Annual Research Tour here to learn more about the New ‘A’ Player. When you do, you’ll also get the CEO’s Guide for Hiring New ‘A’ Players. The guide will give you a process to hire new ‘A’ players. 9 Steps to ensure your sales leaders bring in top talent.

CEO's Guide for Hiring New 'A' Players

Planning for New ‘A’ Players

Your first step towards improving the sales force is defining excellence for your team. These are defined as ‘A’ player competencies. They are the attributes the best reps possess that will ensure your success. Examples of modern ‘A’ players include:

  • BPM Recognition – The ability to identify where a buyer is in their evaluation process
  • Social Reach – The ability to attract and grow the right relationships
  • Social Prospecting – The ability to act on account and persona information
  • Sales Process Execution – The ability to sell the way a buyer wants to buy

These are now non-negotiables in the modern world of hiring ‘A’ players. If your sales leaders are asking for more headcount, they must seek these qualities. Review these items with them before they start recruiting. These are covered in more detail in our research session.

Hiring New ‘A’ Players

The process of hiring ‘A’ players is critical. Interviews are not just for you to assess potential talent. ‘A’ players are assessing you too. Modern ‘A’ players are in high demand. They can take their skills just about anywhere. The cost of the wrong hire can be $1M. You can’t afford to start next year with the wrong talent. You will miss the number.

There are 3 critical steps to hire modern ‘A’ players:

  1. TopGrading for Sales Interviews – Scenario-based interviews to validate the rep possesses the competencies of the new ‘A’ player. In a controlled environment, can the candidates articulate excellence across the required competencies? Your sales managers must vet this out before offering candidates the job.
  2. Job Scenario Tryout – Real-life scenarios to test the true capabilities of your candidates. The TopGrading for Sales interviews provide a controlled environment. The Job Scenario Tryout forces the candidate to think critically in a real situation. Can they think on their feet? Will they be able to hang in the real world your reps face every day? Don’t let your sales managers skip this step.
  3. Reference Interviews – 60 minute interviews with 3 former bosses of your candidate. These are deep dives into their prior work, successes and failures. Must be done with a former direct manager. You’ve seen the rep in the interview. You’ve put them through the live-fire scenario. What does the last guy who managed this candidate have to say? Do all three data points stack up? Where are the gaps? Your sales managers need to this feedback to make great hiring choices.

Looking through these three lenses is invaluable. It takes time, which is ok. Hiring slowly is the right approach. If you haven’t already, you should start now to help plan for next year. Your chances of making the number will increase.

Building a great team is critical to your success as a CEO. Your sales leaders are focused on making the in-year revenue goal. This is important, but they often make hasty hiring decisions as a result. As the CEO, you can help your sales leaders by giving them this framework. Help increase your chances of making the number by hiring modern ‘A’ players. To learn more how to do this, register for our free session here. You’ll learn how to plan for and hire the new ‘A’ player.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Ryan Tognazzini
Ryan is a recognized thought leader in business-to-business sales force effectiveness. During his time at Sales Benchmark Index, he developed many of the evidence-based best practices housed in SBI's database of 11,000 companies. Ryan has more than 15 years of experience focused on increasing sales productivity through improvements in account segmentation, lead generation and sales processes.


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