Did you know that hiring a sales rep can cost on average $115,000? A study conducted by DePaul University in 2012 found that the average total cost to hire a new sales rep is $115,000. This has probably grown.
On average it costs $29,000 to hire someone. This includes things like job posting and recruiting costs, salary costs for all interviewers and travel. Additionally, it costs $36,000 to train an employee. Time spent by the training staff (or fellow reps), management and the employee, as well as any additional resources and training courses cost a lot of money.
Here are a few basic, but important best practices that I’ve found over the past 15 years...
#1 Always Recruit
You expect your sales team to consistently fill their pipeline with prospects, so you should continuously fill the candidate funnel of your company. Constantly look for talent and have discussions with as many qualified people as you can.
Try to always have a job posted on your website and on social media sites like LinkedIn. Never turn down an opportunity to have a quick cup of coffee with a job seeker.
Though you may not be in the position to hire immediately, many candidates worth pursuing aren’t in the position to start immediately anyways. This investment (like prospecting) will help you move candidates through the process faster when you have an opening.
And, you’ll also have the opportunity to consistently evaluate your current team to make sure you have the right people doing the job.
#2 Lay Out Clear Expectations
You’ll have time to sell your company and yourself. Use the first interview as a way of defining what you expect. They should know the exciting aspects of the role, and also some of the routine day-to-day tasks.
The interview process should be designed as a way for you to get to know the candidate and for the candidate to get to know you. Of course, both sides typically try to sell themselves. But, just like in sales, it’s important to get everything out on the table so the two sides can make the right decision as to whether or not the process continues.
Don’t oversell the company or the job. Be realistic. Set appropriate expectations and share exactly what skills and personalities make someone successful in the job. Too many hiring managers are afraid to share these details because it might turn off the candidate.
Think about all the money and effort wasted if a new hire quits six months into the job. You can only paint a good picture so long. The new hire will eventually assimilate into the role and into the culture of your organization. It should be exactly what you described in the interview.
#3 Utilize Tour Team
When I joined my last company, I disliked their policy of having multistage interviews. A candidate would be interviewed by HR, the hiring manager, CEO, VP of Sales, two team members (colleagues) and sometimes others. I was interviewed by two employees who would report to me. I asked them why they weren’t going for my job, and our conversation was a long running joke for a while after I joined the organization as their boss.
Once I started, I didn’t like utilizing my team members to interview candidates I was looking to hire. I felt like they would sabotage the changes I was trying to make, and I wanted to recruit ‘my type of person’ to join our department. I was wrong.
Interviews consisting of multiple meetings and many opportunities for the company to meet with a candidate are great. Here’s why:
#4 Find Out Who They are Outside of Work
Most interview questions focus on experience, job relevance and behavior in a professional setting.
Maybe I’m optimistic, but I’ve always felt I can teach the right someone how to do the job I’m hiring them for. In addition to asking them how they would respond to a certain professional issue, it’s important for me to find out what they’re like outside the office. It’s important to me as a sales leader to like the people I work with, and trust in their gut instincts and personality. Knowing how many calls they’ve made in one day, and how many sales they made the prior year is helpful.
But, it’s also important for me to know what drives them to want to be successful. What are their motivations? How competitive are they and what examples can they provide to show me that they’re hungry to win? These are often much easier for them to clearly articulate. And I can easily draw connections between those and the job they’re interviewing for.
#5 Ask for Referrals
Referrals are the cheapest resumes to get, and they’re the biggest return on investment you can make. If your team is willing to have their friends come and work with you, that means they are invested in the company and in the team. And, your team member most likely won’t recommend you hire a dud. Their reputation is on the line with this referral, so they’ll be diligent about only introducing you to the right people. And, the candidate has something on the line too. A friend who stuck their neck out there for him.
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t thoroughly vet these candidates and put them through the same multi-step process as the others. But, having a defined referral process is not only helpful the culture and recruiting process, it’s also a good way to keep your team motivated.
Consider implementing a cash incentive plan for any hire. For instance, $250 cash paid to the person who gave the referral on the 91st of the new hire’s employment.
I hope this was helpful. It’s probably nothing astonishingly new, but hopefully this can remind you of some of the basics when hiring sales reps. Any improvement we can make in our hiring process will lead to less costs to recruit, and more revenue due to filled territories and more productive teams.
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