Sales & Sales Management Expertise

Recruiting Better Salespeople: The Make-Up of Hall of Famers

Tags: hire better salespeople, building effective sales teams, recruiting sales talent

Assuming for a second that when you think about hiring for a position in your organization, you are thinking about hiring the best- especially in the early rounds of looking for talent. No one reasonably goes about writing a job description like this: 

"ABLE Sales Company is looking for the most unbelievably average salespeople we can find. We already have enough top producers and those that are failing. What we really need are some people to bump up the middle of our bell curve. If interested show up and you’ll get a job.”

No, you are not looking for average- you are looking for people who can get your organization to the next level. You’re looking for the best of the best.

Which leads me to today’s story: I was listening to ESPN radio and tuned into The Golic and Wingo Show. They were sharing stories about the Baseball Hall of Fame inductees that a reporter (I didn’t catch the name but it might have been Tim Kurkjian) had heard from each during his time as a sports reporter. I would like to share 3 of those stories with you today and how they are great analogies for recruiting the best of the best.

2018 hall of famers

(Image from Getty Images)

Vladimir Guerrero: Vladimir is a Dominican born in 1975. He arrived to his first professional baseball try-out on a bicycle. He was wearing baseball shoes that didn’t match and one was so big he had to stuff it with socks so that it wouldn’t slip off. He was on the field for 5 minutes hitting, throwing and catching when the scouts told him he was finished. They signed him to a contract and now he’s in the Baseball Hall of Fame. So, how does this relate to recruiting talent?

  • When you got it, you got it
  • Don’t judge a book by it’s cover

Trevor Hoffman: Trevor was born in Bellflower, California in 1967. When he tried out to play professional baseball, he did so as a shortstop. However, after a few minutes of taking the infield, somebody told him he was terrible as a fielding shortstop and he was a weak hitter. They said if he was going to make it in the pros he might want to try pitching. He did and now he’s a Hall of Famer. What’s the hiring lesson here?

  • When interviewing people don’t be afraid to push a button that might upset them. It’s going to happen in their sales career anyway so you might as well find out how they are going to react. Will they absorb the challenge or get emotional?
  • Every candidate you interview and eventually hire is going to come with some warts. What you want to know is – are they coachable?

Chipper Jones: Chipper was born in 1972 in Deland, Florida and played his entire career with the Atlanta Braves. Chipper was the #1 MLB draft pick in 1990. As the story goes, the Braves were ready to make him an offer but his dad was encouraging Chipper to hold off because he could probably get more money from another team. Chipper told his dad that he wanted to be the #1 draft pick and that the money didn’t matter. He knew that he was going to be successful and that he would earn his ‘big’ money based on his performance rather than what another club thought he was worth today. Again, why is this important when hiring salespeople?

  • You have to be patient. Just because it’s hard to find the right person, doesn’t mean you should hire one that is close. Close enough isn’t good enough (you already have some of those on your team and you don't need more).
  • Hire people that are willing to bet on themselves. Often recruiting managers, HR, and recruiters shy away from those that don’t exactly fit the pedigree. When interviewing and working the compensation into the hiring contract, be bold enough to challenge the candidate to put some money at risk. If they are as good as they think they are they will make up for it in spades in the long run.

There is nothing easy about hiring. If you listen to the stories of these recent inductees you will find that there was nothing easy about getting into the Hall of Fame. Congratulations to the 2018 MLB Baseball Hall of Fame Inductees: 

Chipper Jones

Vladimir Guerrero

Jim Thome

Trevor Hoffman

Jack Morris

Alan Trammell

Need more help hiring the best of the best? Download our free Recruiting Success Formula document and Interview Questions guide to improve your recruiting process, today!

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Become a Pipeline Hound!

Tags: increase pipeline, sales candidates, hire better salespeople, recruiting sales talent

How important is it for your salespeople to have a pipeline of prospects? Probably pretty important. How crucial is it that your salespeople continue to feed into that pipeline? Just as crucial! We all know that, in order for your organization to succeed, it is vital that your salespeople build, grow and maintain a solid pipeline. But what happens if one of those great salespeople leaves? Do you have someone on the sidelines ready to take that spot?

The first thing that we teach our Hire Better Salespeople (HBSP) clients is that it is just as imperative for you to have a pipeline of potential candidates as it is for your salespeople to have a pipeline of prospects. Most companies find themselves reacting to the loss of an employee as opposed to being proactive about it. When companies don’t proactively recruit new sales talent, they typically find themselves with a vacancy for a much longer time. For example, last year, HBSP partnered with a financial institution out of Cheyenne, WY and it took over 8 months to find a qualified individual partly due to the absence of a sales candidate pipeline. When this happens, you now have the daunting task, and added pressure, of finding a replacement... and quickly! But what happens when we rush things? Usually a mistake is made, right? Your hiring decisions and processes are not something to be rushed or else large, costly mistakes will occur. It doesn’t matter if things are going great or going terribly- a candidate pipeline has to exist.

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So, what is the best way to build a sales candidate pipeline? Be a candidate watch dog! Start with the people you know. Typically, great people know other great people and are happy to refer them. Ask your family, friends and employees if they know of anyone who may be a fit for your organization. Networking events are also a great place to receive names and meet potential sales candidates. Once you gain a few leads, reach out and see if they would be interested in getting together. In no way are these conversations interviews- they shouldn’t be! Interviews are for applicants who are actively looking when you have an active opening. At this point, you are just trying to gauge interest and add potential sales candidates to your network.

Creating a candidate pipeline won’t solve all your recruiting troubles, but it’s the first place to start. If you are interested in learning more about how to Hire Better Salespeople, sign up for our free webinar—Ruff Realities About Recruiting. During this webinar, you will learn how to hire your next “top dog” using our proven process for searching, evaluating skills using a sales assessment, interviewing, hiring and onboarding new hires.

Webinar Details:

Thursday, July 27th at 12 PM EST

REGISTER HERE for "Ruff" Realities Recruiting Webinar

The Best of the Best, Sir!

Tags: managing salespeople, hiring better salespeople, Geoff Smart, Randy Street, recruiting sales talent, 80/20 Principle

In a scene from Men in Black, Will Smith’s character, Agent J, asks, “Why are we here?” (He is in a meeting room with the head of Men in Black, Agent Zed, along with several other recruits all from various branches of the military.)  Agent Zed asks one of the recruits to answer the question.  The young recruit stands and declares, “We are the best of the best, SIR!” (link to watch youtube video)

Isn’t that what you should be looking for when recruiting sales and sales management talent?  Yesterday, I wrote a post about hirebettersalespeople.com.  In the post, I mentioned the book, Who.  In that book, Geoff Smart and Randy Street suggest that you create a scorecard to help in the evaluation process.  The scorecard is supposed to be used to find that someone who has a 90% chance of doing what only the top 10 salespeople can do.  I think that is a stretch and unrealistic.

Now, to be fair to the authors, I believe they do a nice job of explaining that an “A” player for a company in New York is probably different than an “A” player for a different company in Manchester, NH.  In other words, not all “A” players need be the same nor are they created the same.  But, aside from that, I still have an issue.

If you look at many great “A” players in sales, the arts or in sports, they just didn’t show up that way.  Many have been groomed and developed over many years to become that “A” player.  The key is to look for the “A” DNA in someone.  We know what that DNA is.  (Click here to request a sample of the ideal fit candidate analysis)

What I believe makes sense is to look for someone that has a 92% chance of success at helping to contribute to the 96% of your results.  Let me explain.

You may or may not have read other articles I’ve written in the past about the 80/20 of the 80/20 and Perry Marshall’s book – The 80/20 of Sales and Marketing.  If you follow the method I’ve described (based on Marshall’s book), you arrive at the following in Figure 1:

8020-talent-chart.pngFigure 1

If you have revenue of $20,000,000 generated by 50 salespeople and then conduct the 80/20 of the 80/20, you discover that $19,200,00 of the 20,000,000 (96%) is generated by 18 of the 50 salespeople (36%).  Based on this, I believe that your best recruiting strategy is to find people that look like your top 36% or have the same DNA as that top 36% that are generating 96% of your revenue.

I’m sure the authors of Who would question the wisdom of this.  “Why…”, they might ask, “would you settle for salespeople that are less qualified than those that are at least as good as your very best?”

It’s not a matter of settling.  It’s a matter of understanding the today’s marketplace and understanding that talent has to be developed

First… the market place:

There has not been a single prospect or client that I’ve talked to in the last 5 years that has not shared with me the challenge of finding, recruiting, hiring and successfully on-boarding new talent - with the biggest challenge being the “finding.”  There are a couple of reasons for that huge challenge:

  • Most companies don’t work at it consistently and so they suck at it when it comes time to recruit.
  • There isn’t a process/system in place that utilizes filtering processes to attract the right candidates.
  • The pool of available candidates is smaller today than it was with the boomer generation.
  • Those available in the candidate pool today have a tendency to find jobs other than sales.
  • The un-steady economy has kept experienced salespeople from seeking other opportunities for fear of “last in, first out”.

Next… talent development.

As stated above, talent just doesn’t fall off of trees and, unfortunately, everyone in your market is vying for the same “A” talent.  If you cannot offer the same compensation as some of your competitors to attract and hire “the best of the best”, then you have to make great selections from the talent that is currently available.  In order to do this, you should have a very good understanding of what your talent looks like. Specifically, you should start looking at the 36% of your current talent that is generating 94% of your results and stop looking for and hiring people that look like your bottom 64%.

  • Identify the results being generated by the top 36%.
  • Identify the activities and behaviors of this top group.
  • Identify the following:
    • Will to sell
    • Sales DNA
    • Figure-it-out factor
    • Trainability and coachability
  • Determine if you have the talent in the management role to:
    • Coach
    • Motivate
    • Manage performance
    • Mentor, grow and develop people

I grew up on a farm where we primarily grew peaches and blueberries.  I just visited the old homestead and, though many things have changed, one thing has not changed.  In the farm acreage, there are various plots of blueberry plants.  Some plots contain plants that are mature enough to be harvested while others have plants that are still being developed and grown to produce.  In the nursery plots, there are plants with solid DNA that are being cultivated, fed and cared for so that, at the right time, they can be productive.  The same should be done with the talent in your organization.

For further assistance, call us at 513.791.3458 and ask for Alex – our expert at hiringbettersalespeople.com. 

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