Business owners and sales managers ask me two questions. “Should I hire experienced or inexperienced salespeople?” And “How do I grow my sales force?”
Let’s look at the pros and cons of hiring experienced and non-experienced sellers.
- They usually produce immediate results.
- They don’t have to be trained.
- They open new customers and markets to our company.
- They often bring unseen baggage. Why are they changing in the first place?
- Loyalty. Loyalty must be earned with any employee, but once a seller begins to move from company to company, they often continue.
- Overconfidence. Many experienced sellers have an exaggerated idea of their skills and value.
- Management. They often have trouble adjusting to the new (our) company culture.
- It will be easier to get new sellers to adapt to our company culture. We will not have to “un-train” bad or different sales habits.
- Loyalty. Again, loyalty will have to be earned with any employee, but sellers who grow with our company, management team and culture will be more likely to stay longer than the seller who is used to changing cultures.
- Management. It will be easier to train to our culture than to un-train a different culture.
- Controlled growth. When we have an established sales training program, we can hire to the program, and establish a track record of controlled growth.
- Cost. Inexperienced sellers will have to be trained. They also will have a slower ramp up to profitability.
- Failure rate. Our investment of time and money will not always be rewarded by the new sellers. Some will succeed, some will fail.
Companies that have consistent growth have an established, ongoing training program for new hires. They will hire experienced sales people but are judicious when doing so. They do not shy away from them, but treat them as icing on the cake of sales growth.
Once we have hired our sales force, how do we maintain and grow?
Growing a Sales Force
Below find ten concepts for ongoing sales team growth.
1. Always be looking. We aren’t always hiring, but we continually are interviewing and searching for new candidates.
2. Hire the right person. Easier said than done. Each company has a sales culture. We must know the kind of sales person we are looking for and hire to that position.
3. Set expectations high from the beginning. When we set the activities and expectation high and clear from the first day, we will have an easier time managing to these goals.
4. Give solid initial training. Training must be thorough and specific.
5. Monitor progress. Sales people respond to attention. When they receive it often and early, they respond in a positive way.
6. Account Management. The biggest time and money management mistake made by sellers is calling on non-profitable accounts too long. Account management is the best thing management can do to insure growth of the team. Left to individual sellers account management will be sporadic or non-existent.
7. Ongoing training. There are people that pick up the selling game quickly. They are the exception. Most sellers will need ongoing training to reach their potential.
8. Show we care. Take sales people to lunch. Have a drink. Spend some personal time. It pays big dividends in productivity and slowing down turn over. One of the biggest mistakes I see is managers who do not spend time with their sales people professionally or personally.
9. Hire two at a time. From a business point of view this is probably the most important. If we want to have sustainable, controlled growth, we must commit to hiring more than one salesperson at a time. Sales has a high failure rate. If we ignore this basic truth, we will be subject to erratic growth. When possible, hiring two salespeople gives our new hires a person to compete with and relate to. It also gives us a growth insurance policy. If one fails, we still continue to grow.
10. Account visits. Management visits to salespeople’s accounts. These visits help us evaluate and educate the salespeople while in most cases increasing business. These visits also help make the account loyal to our company, not only the individual salesperson.
Hiring the right salespeople will make management and growth easier. Companies that are committed to training and giving ongoing attention to salespeople will grow their sales force.