Energy level – Just because some people are more plodding and methodical doesn’t mean they won’t be good
at sales. Remember the tortoise and the hare – some sales
jobs require a sprint and some require a marathon. Pair
the energy level of the salesperson with the energy level
required for the territory. “Laid-back” doesn’t typically play
well on Long Island, nor does “aggressive-intensity” usually
work down in Macon, Georgia.
Pedigree – Whether a Rhodes Scholar or an online degree
recipient from West Southern Utah State, getting hung-up on pedigree usually means you’ll overlook other more
important attributes. As my wife says, “I’ve met plenty of
MBAs that should get their money back.” Some silver-spooners can’t get out of their own way while grinders
from more modest backgrounds are just waiting to be
given their opportunity to strive and shine.
Hire Slow, Fire Fast
Take your time when making a hiring decision, and
pay close attention to a candidate’s list of references. You
should feel confident with whom the candidate considers an ally. LinkedIn and/or your Rolodex will contain
contacts you can approach as part of the vetting process.
The company he/she keeps is a key data-point to validate
(or refute) their chances of successfully joining the team.
On the other end of the spectrum, if a current sales associate isn’t performing well, put them on a formal performance plan sooner rather than later. And if it comes
down to it, dismiss them quickly and move on; delaying
the inevitable does everyone a disservice.
Don’t just fill an open slot. Be purposeful and thorough in your process. Talk to numerous constituents:
multiple candidates, current team members, personal
references, other business associates, etc. I like to interview candidates three distinct times in three varied
environments (on-site, off-site and restaurant) to better
grasp their totality. Also, for at least one interview, plan
to include a current member(s) of your existing team and
assess the collective group dynamic.
Trust Your Gut
In the final analysis, don’t ignore your gut-feel toward
a prospective hire. Whether good or bad, your intuition
is probably spot-on. Ask yourself: how will this person
fit and contribute on our team? Will they align with the
territory and grow with our business? Are they better than
my current worst sales associate? Remember: you’re hiring
for the long-term.
Successful distributors differentiate themselves through
their front-line associates working daily in the field. A
high-performing team is exceptional at both defending the
current customer base and closing new business. Clearly
defining (and following) a consistent set of parameters
when constructing your sales organization will translate
into profitable, top-line growth.
In addition to hiring and managing manufacturer rep groups,
Jeff Guritza has developed large-scale direct sales teams across
several industrial markets. Prior
to establishing the North American distribution channel for UK-based Europower, he assembled
and led the telesales channel at
Applied Industrial Technologies.