July 29, 2015

“Sales” is Too Broad for Job Postings

More Nuances are Needed for a Successful Recruiting Outcome

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When you scan some of the big job search sites, you will see ads for thousands of salespeople.

Unfortunately, neither the ad, nor probably the detailed requirements or expectations for the position are nuanced enough to draw the right people to apply, or to, ultimately, set the salesperson up to succeed over the long term after he/she is hired.

When a net is cast that broadly, all sorts of mismatches can occur, because the terms “salesperson” and “sales” are much too broad for the real need an employer may be trying to meet.

Here is an analogy to consider for this discussion.
 

I Need a “Doctor”

Let’s say that you injured your leg… bad enough that you knew it was going to require serious medical attention to give you the best chance for a successful recovery and outcome.

Now let’s imagine for a minute that the way doctors were selected by patients was by the patient putting an ad in the leading medical journals or LinkedIn, and doctors would then apply for the job.

But let’s say that rather than being more specific, you merely advertised that you needed a doctor. That, of course “might” capture the attention of a good leg doctor, but it would also probably draw interest from all sorts of doctors with different specialties and skill sets.

Yes, they are all “doctors,” just like salespeople are all “salespeople,” but the difference between, say a heart specialist, knee specialist, dentist, or even a psychologist has remarkable breadth and depth within the broad description of doctor.

But what if you set your expectations a little differently? What if you did not just want a doctor, but you wanted a knee specialist?

And what if you wanted a knee specialist that has direct experience and success with a particular procedure? And perhaps you are a professional athlete, so you want someone who has treated and rehabbed athletes. And so on.

Now you should begin to draw the interest of people whose specific aptitude, training and skill sets more exquisitely match your specific medical needs and expectations.

 

We Need a “Salesperson”

sales-manager-deciding-between-sales-candidates

This concept also applies to sales.

When you post an ad for a “sales position,” you are setting yourself up to draw in candidates with different sales interests and different levels of experience and aptitude.

There is a big difference between the aptitude and skills needed for someone you expect to identify and pursue business on his own and a person for whom your marketing may be providing warm leads.

If you are looking for a sales hunter, someone who will hit the ground running from day one and will relentlessly close new business for you, you may want to be very specific in your job description.

This type of position will require someone with some level of experience and knowledge about your specific industry and of course, a high level of Drive.

If you are looking for a sales farmer, who will take, close and follow up on inbound leads your job description will look slightly different. This type of position does not require as much experience or even a high level of Drive necessarily. If you are able to provide training to the candidate, an inexperienced candidate may be a good option for your company.

Both types of candidates can be classified as “salespeople” in the broadest sense, but a true “hunter” would go crazy sitting at his desk taking calls, while a great, inbound call closer might not have the innate characteristics necessary to succeed in an account acquisition position.

If you are not writing very detailed and specific job descriptions, you are going to pull in a wide array of candidates.

By including your specific business needs and expectations for the open role, you will filter out many inapplicable candidates right away.

This will allow you to spend more of your time in high-level interviews and less time culling out salespeople who did not fit your specific criteria.

 

Take Your Recruiting Process One Step Further: Incorporate a Sales Assessment

manager-incorporating-sales-assessment-testIdentifying “Drive” in sales candidates through sales aptitude testing prior to the behavioral interview will allow you to maximize your time and chances of hiring the best possible candidate for your open position.

Drive is based upon three, innate personality traits that cannot be taught, Need for Achievement, Competitiveness and Optimism.

We do not recommend that hiring managers spend time vetting low-Drive candidates for classic hunter positions. Our research and client feedback suggests that they will not sustain performance over time. But that criterion can change with the nuance of the sales position.

For example, if the salesperson is not asked to “hunt,” that is, go out and source his own leads, but instead is given warm leads sourced by an “opt-in” offer, it is possible for him to score lower on Drive and still be successful.

This occurs because this specific sales position requires a farmer with a different set of important skills, like empathy, great communication skills and listening skills. Elements of Drive are still important to a certain degree such as self-motivation and optimism as rejection goes with any sales position, but other teachable skills may rise in importance.

It might be that when you analyze your candidates’ sales assessment results, you will accept some lower scores on the “hunter skills” in exchange for some nuanced skill sets which you know match well with the more subtle needs of the position or vice versa.

 

Final Thought

So next time you post a new job opening be sure to start out with a more-detailed description about what will be needed to succeed in this specific position – really describing the type of salesperson you need – is the first step toward a better recruiting outcome.

Next, administer a sales assessment to all of your applicants to determine their levels of Drive before bringing them in for the interview.

This combination will allow you to zero in on the aptitude and skill sets that you require, providing you with the best possible candidates for your specific sales position.