Lose the "Must Haves" and Hire for Success!
WRITTEN BY Jim Leffel, Senior PI Consultant
Recently a client asked me if I could evaluate his sales force staffing techniques. He was not satisfied with the team's current sales performance. As an engineer, sales people were mysterious and expensive... He said his existing staff was missing market opportunities; his sales managers could not, or did not, hire the right sales people. What was the issue? Did they really know what was required to be successful as a sales person with this company, for this type of sales cycle? During the discovery interview, I observed that the managers’ mentality was simply “hire like us.” They tended to focus on what I call “the must haves”: must have two years’ experience in this business field, must have a four-year college degree (no specific focus of study), must have a proven record of success, must be hungry, and my personal favorite - must have ability to use MS Office!
How do you find what you really need in a great salesperson? What are the best performing behavioral attributes for success? How do they connect with people? How do they persuade others? I asked the CEO what he thought, and his description was that he wanted a sales person to just walk in and ask for prescriptions for his product. Yes, he knew there was more to it, yet he could not articulate it. This company was not selling a product, they were selling a peace of mind to medical providers and clinicians. With the Predictive Index, let’s find out using the Job Assessment combined with unbiased input from the best sales people, managers and even clinicians themselves - yes, ask your customers! The VP of Sales told me it would not work; he stressed the need for education, but he could not identify the degree, and also felt that experience trumped all else. How do we identify hi-performers before they find a way to your competitor?
We engaged his best sales staff, the top performing individuals, to take a Predictive Index Behavioral Assessment to help design a best-fit behavioral attributes profile using the Predictive Index Software's Group Analytics tool. By analyzing who the best were, and more importantly why they were the best, we started to hire more top performers like them! We went from “the must haves” to attracting the right people. Now we had a defined profile with the right traits for those who are to be interviewed. It was time to go to work: post the ad using the wording that would attract applicants with the best behavioral fit, interview using our developed structure, take the time to verify, hire, onboard and train. Today, after 6 months, unexpected benefits were substantial, the hiring cycle and turnover was reduced by half, diversity improved and the new sales team is out-performing the established sales staff.