7 requirements to hiring successful sales reps

1. Define a hiring plan

Leaders! Pin your sales goal to a hiring plan AND please please please treat it like a sales funnel. Define leading metrics of success (i.e. applicant count), include the forecast in your management meetings, etc. Common in the early stages, there will need to be 1) a group effort w/r/t sourcing candidates but 2) some'one' needs to be ultimately responsible for sourcing candidates AND communicating to the executive team if there is a risk to meeting the hiring plan (a proxy for the revenue target...a proxy for the valuation target).

2. Get compensation right

Don't paint yourself into a corner where you are figuratively stuck and literally can't make a comp plan change because of the repercussions (e.g. mutiny). The answer is to 1) be clear on OTE, 2) use an accelerated comp schedule, and 3) pay BDRs/SDRs on completed discovery meetings.

Bonus points: Provide a series of leading indicators (e.g. leads added to your CRM, activity, meetings set) to new hires so they understand what needs to be accomplished during their "ramp" period. Pay the reps on a predictable schedule. You don't need them worrying about whether you are going to pay them or not.

3. Track the channels you use to source candidates

Applicant quality and/or quantity will be a problem. The answer--diversify your channels and track/report results in your leadership meeting. Determine a date when you need to press the "emergency" button. In other words, identify a recruitment firm, like CatchTalent, which can help you fill your needs when you are in a tight spot.

4. Spice up the job description

"Requirements: 4-yr Bachelors Degree, can make cold calls, not afraid of rejection"...

What's the point? You're wasting an opportunity to explain your vision and what you truly want. Take a look at ScaleUp's--they are unique, short and get to the point. They didn't take that much longer to create, but they are us. If you look like everyone else, the good candidates will gloss right over.

5. Use established interview criteria and interview process

Early stage companies allow interviewers to be bad at interviewing. You walk out of an interview lacking concrete reasons as to why you recommend or do not recommend this person for hire. The result is most certainly a crap shoot as to whether this person will be a producer.

Bonus points: Spend 2 hours as a team defining 5 criteria you look for (e.g. coachability), read the book "Hire with your Head" to become a better interviewer, and develop your own, consistent interview process (example below). Think about using Slack as your interview medium (FullStory does this well).

  1. 5 min - Warm-up; do a quick overview and understand the candidates's motivation for looking.
  2. 20 min - Conduct a comprehensive work history review.
  3. 10 min - Ask about major individual accomplishments. Work history review should only briefly touch on the accomplishment.
  4. 10 min - Ask about major team accomplishments.
  5. 10 min - Ask a job-specific problem solving question. Assign specific performance objectives to those most impacted.
  6. 10 min - Ask them about their boss
  7. 5 min - Ask close question and then if they have any remaining questions.

6. Prepare your new rep for success with an onboarding program

"Welcome to Company ABC. We don't have a formal onboarding program. You can sit with Jessie; she'll teach you what you need to know." You know how this plays out--Jessie's production goes down because of the cannibalization of her time AND the new person is frustrated with the onboarding experience and questions how long it will take for them to make money. The result is a "See ya later. I'm outta here." for both.

The onboarding program should touch on the following in a building block style where you learn certain things before advancing:

  • Who is the employer? what do they do?
  • What value do they provide? what problem do they solve?
  • How do they solve it?
  • Who are their customers?
  • etc...

7. Increase success with ongoing certifications

New products are commercialized. New sales tools are implemented. Processes are changed. Competitive intel is learned. Messaging strategies adjust. The list goes on. There are any number of items that need to be communicated to the team to help them be more successful. But don't overwhelm them. Implement a mechanism to monitor adoption (e.g. Speakpoint, if it's messaging).

Bonus points: Create and publish an annual calendar which includes product and skills trainings.