Identifying and Selecting the Right Sales People – Objectively
Leading printing executives into the future
Identifying and Selecting the Right Sales People –
By Jerry Scher
Published: August 28, 2012
In our last article we briefly touched on the changing role of the sales professional and I imagine
that if you are attempting to transform your printing business to become more focused on cross
media services you are experiencing a great deal of frustration in the sales department. And that
depends, of course, how you define the sales role. It is imperative that the new role be carefully
A business developer requires the capacity to be client focused
Traditionally, printing has been positioned as a commodity by customers and therefore the
primary contact is someone in procurement; a cost-manager with the authority to purchase a
product after the decision has already been made to buy print.
In an integrated marketing scenario, the client contact is typically a profit-manager; someone in
the “C” Suite such as the CMO, VP of Sales or even the CEO. The ideal timing for engagement
is before they decide what marketing channels will be selected. The process must be far more
consultative, engaging and challenging true decision makers in an effort to uncover a variety of
needs, educate, clarify and prioritize strategies enabling them to achieve their goals. This
consultative sales activity is far more sophisticated than the typical print sales person is capable
So how do we determine who can do the job?
A business developer requires the capacity to be client focused and not just product focused.
They must possess the knowledge of how a client generates revenue and profits. They require a
level of expertise in a specific industry or vertical market. Sales professionals that are business
people first will be far more credible.
To identify the talent you must prepare an accurate job description; one that clearly defines the
role, activities and skills that are required. This description must clearly present management’s
performance metrics as well as a description of desired sales activities. While most companies
have accurate job descriptions for their operational positions they lack current and appropriate
descriptions for the new sales role. Take the time to do this properly.
Once the job description is complete, the process of selecting the right people begins with your
recruiting activities. Recruiting is a continuous process and not just an event that takes place
when a sales opening needs to be filled. The same manner in which you market your company to
prospective clients must be executed to create marketing strategies that position your unique
brand in your region and within the industries that you are focused on.
Networking within your industry, as well as in other industries in which you plan to sell, is a
great way to further your recruiting strategy. While seeking people with the right sales
experience in your industry is logical, it is not always an effective approach to finding the most
desirable sales people.
If you have created effective orientation and training programs and have a successful sales
management structure/system in place, including effectual sales coaching, your networking can
be expanded to include candidates that have the right stuff but not the desired length of
experience or industry-specific knowledge. In many cases this is the best way to build a loyal,
talented sales team.
The process of actually selecting the right person for the job involves three, well-defined
Eligibility – involves determining if the individual can do the job. You must consider past
experience, skills and knowledge currently held, previous training received and the level of
education achieved. An objective, well thought out list of eligibility requirements must be
developed and each candidate should be compared to these criteria; and scored where possible.
Carefully review the candidate's resume but don't just accept material without dissecting the
information judiciously. A more objective approach to assessing eligibility is certainly more
desirable (not just reviewing resumes).
Suitability – involves determining if the individual will do the job. This is best accomplished by
utilizing a validated behavioral assessment system that can predict how an individual will
behave. The assessment should be based on the work environment and should consider the
individual's personal interests. It has been established that people will perform more effectively
in jobs if they enjoy the required tasks, have a personal interest in the work, and the work
environment matches their personal preferences. The assessment must also evaluate the traits and
behavioral competences the individual exhibits and these traits should be tied to the essential
traits the job requires. It can be extremely costly when you don’t align a candidate’s suitability
with the behavioral requirements of the job.
Interview – The third component of the selection process is the most interactive and requires a
significant amount of skill and preparation. With the information gathered from the eligibility
and suitability processes, the interviewer must carefully plan the interview and determine who
else should be involved in the process; team interviewing is by far the most effective. Everyone
involved must know the job requirements, review the available information, carefully consider
the assessment profile, dig into the resume, and prepare a wide range of questions they plan to
ask. The questions should be open ended providing the candidate the opportunity to speak at
length, while the interviewer peels back the onion one layer at a time. In the case of a sales
interview, the use of role playing is extremely effective in determining a candidate's selling skill.
It is quite simple, in a matter of a few minutes, to uncover a candidate's instinctive sales
The process of selecting the right people is a crucial part of building a successful sales team. As
in the building of any successful team, selecting the best talent that fits within your organization
will enable you to achieve your company's goals. Perhaps it is time to assess your current
recruiting/hiring processes and re-engineer for success.
If you would like more information about assessing eligibility and suitability please contact Jerry
Scher at email@example.com or 404-931-9291. You can also get information about the
Harrison Assessment at http://peakfocus.harrisonassessments.com/index.html
Stay tuned to this continual series - as we define the behavioral competencies necessary to
succeed in this new business development position, learn how to determine which of your current
people can make the grade and how to more accurately predict which candidates will be
Jerry Scher has been engaged in the graphic communication industry for over 35 years, Jerry's
primary goal - make those around him more successful.
By John Foley on Aug 28, 2012
Great write-up for the industry Jerry. Hiring the right people are so important. In addition, having
the right skill sets are just as important. The human resource needs of the changing/transforming
Service Provider has changed and they need help! There are a couple of dynamics going on. 1.
What are the new skill sets we need in the "New" business. 2. How do we know they are the
right folks for the "New" Service provider. I dedicated a whole chapter to this in the book
Business Transformation: A New Path to Profit for the Print Industry - http://ilink.me/JFBook
However, the chapter really only addresses the types of folks you need not how to get them and
how do we know if they are "right" for the Service Provider. Great information as always. Keep
it up! John
By Jerry Scher on Aug 29, 2012
John - thanks for you're comments. As you have learned it's not only whether you can do the
work (eligibility) but also whether you will do the work (suitability). There is a tendency to hire
people "just like us" instead of doing the due diligence required to clearly define the behavioral
traits and competences specific to a job. Stay tuned for articles in September where I will share
what I've learned the past few years about the suitability requirements for the new breed of sales
professional; and of course how to assess for those traits. Stay well. Jerry