Identifying and Selecting the Right Sales People – Objectively


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Identifying and Selecting the Right Sales People – Objectively

  1. 1. Leading printing executives into the future Identifying and Selecting the Right Sales People – Objectively! 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 defined. 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 of. 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.
  2. 2. 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. Recruiting activities 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 activities: 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
  3. 3. 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 competence. 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 or 404-931-9291. You can also get information about the Harrison Assessment at 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 successful Jerry Scher has been engaged in the graphic communication industry for over 35 years, Jerry's primary goal - make those around him more successful. Discussion 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 - 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
  4. 4. 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
  5. 5. PEOPLE. PERFORMANCE. PROFITABILITY. About Peak Focus, LLC People. Performance. Profitability. Peak Focus gives you the tools to grow, develop and strengthen your team. With a mix of resources that we’ve created ourselves, as well as several powerful tools we’ve carefully assessed and believe in, we combine our passion and experience to guide companies and individuals toward optimized performance. Select your team members with confidence, help your key players develop their soft skills, and learn how to coach your entire team more effectively by engaging the experts at Peak Focus. For more information and access to free resources, please visit our website at Engage With Us Free tools, resources & updates LIKE us on Facebook Check out our blog Follow us on Twitter Follow us on LinkedIn About What They Think? WhatTheyThink is the printing and publishing industry’s leading media organization; offering a wide range of publications delivering unbiased, real-time market intelligence, industry news, economic and trend analysis, peer-to-peer communication, and special reports on emerging technology and critical events. WhatTheyThink also hosts webinars and live events that are timely and relevant o today’s busy industry executives along with consulting and speaker services that leverage a talented pool of writers and industry analysts. Peak Focus LLC © 2008-2013 • All rights reserved. Unauthorized duplication in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.