Jordan Wan is Founder and CEO of CloserIQ, New York City’s leading sales recruiting firm. SalesPOP! sat down with Jordan to pick his brain on the subject of sales recruitment–one of the most fundamentally crucial areas for companies today.
You’ve obviously developed a first-rate formula for sourcing top salespeople. What would you say are the top 3 qualities of a great salesperson?
- Organized and Process Driven
Sales requires timing, and the top sales reps have a system for keeping themselves constantly performing. A sales cycle already has many uncontrollable factors, and the top performing reps are those who can effectively manage what’s in their control.
- Embraces Change
Reps who can handle ambiguity are going to be better hires. They’ll be able to learn with less formal training because they’re willing to figure it out on their own. With changing comp plans, new sales processes, you name it – all salespeople face change. Look for candidates who embrace those changes, rather than merely adapt.
- Loves to win
A rep who is trying to avoid looking bad won’t be as motivated to excel as a rep with a “love to win” mindset. A desire to win is a much stronger driver of success as it motivates you in both good and bad performance. These reps won’t simply be satisfied as the #2 rep, but the candidate who doesn’t like to lose may be content as long as they aren’t last.
Turnover rates for salespeople can be very high–some say that salespeople last an average of 1.5 years on any one job. From your experience, why is this?
On the employer side: companies often hire a talented salesperson as a brute force method to figure out product-market fit or compensate for a poor product. Some employers operate a revolving door culture where sales people are treated like coin-operated mercenaries which also creates a short tenure.
On the candidate side, the personalities in sales tend to be fairly dynamic and ambitious so they often leave company due to impatience with earnings potential and career growth (push), or they may often times get recruited away by a competitor willing to offer more.
From your experience, what would you say are the most common mistakes companies make in sales recruiting?
Poor Interview Process – many companies interview salespeople using behavior interviews and culture fit without assessing their sales process and seeing them live in action. You wouldn’t hire an engineer without seeing their code so why wouldn’t you ask a salesperson to do a role play and pitch you a solution?
Speed – great salespeople are well connected and interview well. By having unnecessary interview stages and inefficient delays in the process, companies increase their chance of losing out on a great candidate.
What advice would you give salespeople in seeking the right company to work for?
One of the most important factors in determining your next sales job is evaluating and understanding your potential on target earnings (OTE). Ask your prospective employer how OTE and Quota relate to each other so you fully understand their expectations. Some employers align OTE with very achievable quotas. But others might set OTE as a stretch goal that only a small percent of reps will achieve.
You should also consider factors aside from your salary. A difference in salary of $5k might seem like a determining factor, but your sales career is also about personal growth. The difference between a good opportunity and a great one might not be apparent from potential salaries. Research each company enough so you understand how well you’ll do at each and what kind of career advancement opportunities they offer.
And lastly, what advice would you give companies in formulating their sales hiring practices?
Use interview rubrics. Most hiring managers make hiring decisions for sales people based on intuition and gut feel. I advocate for using interview rubrics to eliminate emotional biases and conduct a more efficient sales recruiting process. A grading rubric can improve communication between your hiring manager and recruiter; focus each interviewer to test one area at a time, and help you make more objective assessments through using a pre-determined weighted score.
Create a positive candidate experience.There is no downside to providing a candidate with a great interview experience. Even if you ultimately pass on the candidate, a positive interview experience will create an everlasting impression about your brand (and the appeal of your team) for their future job prospects, their friends, and any potential referrals.
What successful practices has your company taken in sales recruitment? Leave a comment and let us know.
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