Sales role have always been one of my favourites to recruit. One of the reasons I'm attracted to those roles, relates to the similarities between sales and recruiting. In both, you aim to close a deal, you need to hunt your opportunities, negotiate and attract. In both, there is a need for a continues high level of energy - as one deal or offer are closed, but the next one needs your attention.
Here are a few thoughts and suggestions I gathered for sales positions recruitment.
1. Understand the company product, sales goals and cycle- companies sales process and targets will depend on the product and customers ( B2C, B2B etc ). In some companies, if the portfolio is wide- there might be a few products that will differ from one another on the sales approach needed. For example- selling licenses for a stand-alone product is different than selling an entire system.
In the first case, the sale might be quick, but you will require on-going hunt for new leads. This sales professional for example might be focusing on cold calling and "opening doors".
In the second option, the sale process will be more complicated and lengthy but with a higher price tag. In this case, we will be looking for someone that can create long term relationships with key figures within the costumer, and handle a long process that can take months, of checks and negotiations.
2. Hunting or farming? you probably heard this term before, referring to sales positions. they come to differentiate between the sales professionals that are focusing on new leads and accounts ( the hunters) , and between those who focus on exciting accounts, nurture them and build the sales on the opportunities that come from those.
We can also consider the hunters/ farmers as different personalities/ approach and preferences towards sales. I personally believe that when looking to recruit for a complex product that there is a need for a well-rounded person, that knows to do both.
3. Connections – tapping into a specific industry domain or working on particular target customers, will, in most cases, require connections with leading players in the industry or specific relationships with key figures within the customer.
It's important to understand from the hiring manager in what department those connections need to be and in what level. This is also related to the way the sales team evaluate the decision-making process within the customer. For example- if you sell an HR system, the choice of what system to purchase will be with the HR department, with support from IT. An opposite example can be a firewall software- this might be used by HR but IT will take the decision what to buy.
4. What is the sales plan for the coming year/quarter? - experienced sales professional will ask this question during the discussion with the recruiter, as they will want to know what is the potential earning on their bonus / variable plan. for the recruiter, It's important to understand in the kickoff what is planed - are there any deals already in the pipeline or the new sales professional will need to start from scratch.
Here are 5 specific sales related Q’s to use in your kick-off meeting with the hiring manager-
1. Can you tell me about the unit and the territory you are covering?
2. What are the specific deals you are currently working on/ are in the pipeline?
3. What are the sales plan for the next year – and how this role will fit in?
4. What customers are you focusing on/ what connections you would like this person to bring? What levels and departments this role will work with on the customer side?
5. What are the deal size and the complexity this role will need to handle? What is the regular sales cycle?