As the UK begins to show signs of moving out of recession, the jobs market is beginning to look a little more optimistic. In the world of sales, many companies may already have even begun looking for key skilled sales professionals to help them out of a difficult time.
While, finding the best staff is never easy, there are more options open to sales management than ever before.
How to evaluate the best talent
Sales recruitment consultants need to be able to assess a candidate’s ability. Many use a basic scoring system to identify some core competencies. There are some generic areas that you should look for. For example presentation is always important. Sales reps are there to represent their companies, so they have to be well presented.
Competencies such as how articulate the individual is, whether they were able to take control of the conversation, whether they established their objectives adequately and how well they listened are at the top of the list.
The ability to look for these skills and to evaluate them against other candidates is arguably where the sales recruitment company can add massive value for its clients.
From the Sales Director point of view, Kerrin MacPhie, Sales Director at BT Convention Centre Liverpool, uses her experience of working with different sales professionals. “I do not have a specific list of things I look for,” she says. “I tend to go by my gut feel. One never gets a second chance to make a first impression and that is what will influence me greatly”.
MacPhie also looks to understand more about the candidate by some good questioning of the individual, “I go for questions that cannot be answered with yes or no, I also ask them what they you would do if they were successful, and then I ask what they would do after that. This really focuses the candidate or can knock them balance”.
Working with Sales Managers
So what problems can occur that stop a sales director and their chosen recruitment company from working effectively together? Sometimes, where third parties are involved this can cause some problems. It’s important that a consultant can have a dialogue with the sales management team, that they understand the individuals’ needs.
It happens that sales managers make some fundamental errors. Many inexperienced employer clients will purely look at a CV and regardless of recommendations will reject the candidate on that basis. Some companies are guilty of ‘lazy recruitment’ in that they set out to only hire candidates from their competitors when in fact their best candidate may not even come from the same industry.
When selecting the best candidate, there are many factors to consider. For example does the company want to have a candidate with lots of experience within the vertical, or are they looking for someone with the best skills? Sales directors need define their ‘must haves’ and their ‘nice to haves’, so that the consultant can make a better assessment of the candidate’s ability to fulfil the role. They should also be clear how soon they expect a return on the recruitment investment as this will affect the sort of candidate they should be looking for.
MacPhie says:”I would expect past experience as standard. Other than that, anything goes, as the world is full of many different behavioural styles and it would be detrimental to business to have the same type of people in a sales team”
This is a particularly interesting point that many sales directors and managers look to cover. Do you want a team of individuals that have the same style of sales, or will the business benefit from having different ideas, backgrounds and influences?
However, the candidate themselves can be their own worst enemy by missing out on basics such as understanding the company they are interviewing for, or more importantly the job they will be doing. MacPhie described the worst thing a sales candidate can say when going for a role in the events industry: “For me it is telling me how many events they have organised. Many people think that a sales role is very events related – it is not.”
However, there are some basic ways of showing success, rather than just talking about it. Real talent needs to be measured over a period of time. Regardless of how a sales professional behaves in an interview it is essential to have access to tangible evidence in the form of sales figures to give some indication that they can directly impact sales for a company over a given period of time.
Looking ahead to 2010
As we head into 2010, there looks to be more opportunity for candidates seeking work, but for the best sales professionals, there will always have been opportunity. In 2008 the market was candidate driven, with companies having to really promote their organisations to get the best staff. In 2009 the client dictated the market. We don’t believe that the quality of sales professionals was reduced, but that it was just more difficult to find the best staff. In 2010 the swing is going back towards the candidate.
MacPhie also comments on the value of good sales professionals. “It is tough finding good sales people,” she says. “So if I ever come upon someone who I feel is a real diamond I will do what I can to create a role. You can never have too many good sales people”.
Article source: www.thesalespro.co.uk