The demand for inside sales reps has been rapidly expanding, having climbed at least 54% since 2010. That being said, expect more competition than ever to hire experienced inside sales reps with proven histories of driving revenue. Most companies can’t afford to staff their entire sales team with veterans, and as a result, The Bridge Group reported that the average job experience has dropped 20% since 2010. However, this isn’t something to fear. It simply means two things:
- Hiring managers need to get better at hiring based on potential rather than experience.
- Managers need to invest in tech that optimizes sales processes in order to maximize each rep’s opportunity to succeed.
Sales enablement software can help reps close deals. But in this beyond-competitive landscape, hiring managers need to be astute at predicting potential.
These five tips can help inside sales managers recruit A-players.
1. Seek Reps with a Win-or-Die Attitude
I want a team of reps with the mindset that failure is not an option. Sure, the Lakers don’t win every game, but when they lose you can visibly see the frustration and anguish on Kobe Bryant’s face. Throughout his career, he’s made a name for himself by pushing himself beyond his own limitations and playing through the pain. You don’t need to pay top dollar to hire a 20-year sales veteran to get a rep with these qualities. In fact, sometimes younger reps who have yet to prove themselves are more willing than anyone else to go the extra mile.
One key factor to look at when hiring is whether a rep has an experience playing high school or college sports. Experience playing sports can not only help to foster a competitive spirit, but can also build qualities like perseverance, teamwork and thinking on your toes. Not surprisingly, there are also a lot of great sales reps with a history of military service. Another factor for managers to investigate is whether there are factors in a rep’s personal life that will motivate him or her to succeed. Have they just bought a house? Do they have a family to support? Just how driven are they?
The point is that you want reps who won’t be satisfied unless they are absolutely killing it.
2. Investigate a Rep’s Past Experience
Even if a new recruit only has 1-2 years of experience as a sales rep, it’s important to see how they performed. Were they able to hit quota? Did they demonstrate growth over time? Speaking to a rep’s former employer as well as checking their LinkedIn page for references can be a good starting point for gauging a rep’s potential. It’s also crucial to find out how much they were earning at their previous position.
3. Gauge a Rep’s Pitching Skills
A great hiring tip that I picked up from inside sales expert Mike Brooks is to ask your rep to pitch your product during the interview. This can give you a chance to examine how a potential hire will handle pressure as well as whether they have the skills to pay the bills. According to Brooks, “Those who just dive right in and start pitching reveal themselves as middle to low 80% producers. Top 20% producers, on the other hand, start asking me questions and gathering information. They are the ones I’m interested in.” It’s also important to know how a rep will respond when a prospect offers an objection like “the price is too high.” That’s why Brooks recommends giving interviewees objections to see how they handle them.
4. Hire Reps Who Are a Good Culture Fit
I’ve met a lot of successful sales reps. While some are fantastic team players with great leadership qualities, others are lone wolves. It can make sense to recruit different types of reps depending on the culture you are cultivating and the products you are selling. For example, in B2B sales, where sales cycles often last months and there are often multiple touch points with a prospect company, teamwork tends to be more important. You might not want to hire that ruthless maverick who will perpetually throw co-workers under the bus in order to claim sole share in the glory. However, at other companies that sort of rep might be exactly who you want in order to foster an appropriately competitive atmosphere. Not to mention the fact that uber-competitive mavericks often drive the most individual ROI. It’s therefore important to have a clear mental portrait of what an ideal inside sales rep for your company might look like, and then recruit reps that fit the mold.
5. Service Experience Might Be More Important Than You Think
Sure, your next star sales rep might have been the quarterback of his high school football team. But she also might be a former retail clerk, waitress, or customer service agent. Before I worked as an inside sales manager, I worked in a used & rare book store. In order to compete with the bigger book chains of the time, all the booksellers were taught the value of cultivating relationships with customers in order to inspire repeat business. We learned our customers’ preferences and were able to recommend books accordingly. From this job I learned an invaluable lesson: when a customer feels like you are trying to help them rather than sell to them, they buy more. From this experience, I developed a low-pressure sales pitch that focused on presenting myself as an expert on my products who was there to help. My service-inspired approach to inside sales yielded great results and I never had any problem hitting quota. The ability to deliver a fantastic experience to customers across every touch is what will separate the top performing companies from the rest of the pack. As such, companies should consider recruiting reps with retail or other forms of customer service experience.
Here at RingDNA, we’ve built a platform that helps inside sales reps using Salesforce.com close more deals. And while our software can help reps make more calls every day, and deliver contextual data about prospects that powers more successful conversations, there’s no escaping the simple fact that not all reps are created equal. You can provide your team with first-rate training and more tools than you’d find in a Swiss Army Knife, but at the end of the day, some reps are better than others. By hiring the right reps, you can not only help ensure that more reps hit quota, but also that your company hits its quarterly revenue goals.