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Sales Leadership & Human Resources - Hiring Top Performers in Sales

Today, Human Resource Departments are under attack to be highly strategic in recruiting, selecting, retaining and developing top performing sales professionals.  This is in addition to their responsibilities for overall company hiring and retention, as well as the administration, dissemination, and education of operational information and company benefits programs. 

However, as the role of sales has increased in complexity, so has the complexity of attracting and hiring sales professionals who can be successful at your company.  Changes in customer expectations, buying decisions, e-commerce, and technological advances have changed the role of sales for today and the future. And often-times, even sales leadership is unsure how to define the role and what is required for top performance.  Consequently, sales leaders are unsure how to guide human resources to effectively recruit the “right” sales professionals, so they can spend their time interviewing better qualified candidates. 

Adding to the challenges sales leaders face is the pressure to just hire someone, “a warm body,” which outweighs taking the time to establish a strategic recruitment, interviewing and hiring process.  While there is no silver bullet, following are 4 things you can do to more effectively recruit, interview, and select the right top performers who fit the role of sales at your company. 

  1. Start with defining the standard or metrics of TOP Performance in sales for your company. This is a company-specific, accurate “picture” of top performance in sales that defines the skills, behaviors, attributes, motivation and experience required for top performance.
  2. Utilize specific information from the benchmark about the role and requirements to create a targeted, compelling job advertisement to market the role and attract the “right” sales professionals. 
  3. Develop a strategic interview process that links role-specific, measurable questions to guide hiring managers to ask targeted questions and listen to the responses in order to hire only the best sales talent. Having a consistent, defined process will alleviate the tendency for hiring managers to be unprepared or be swayed by a candidate’s friendliness, industry experience, book of business, etc.
  4. Utilize a pre-selection assessment tool to validate a person’s FIT to the established benchmark or top performance standard for the role. The most effective selection assessment tool is one that is BOTH a pre-selection and a post-hire developmental tool to help a manager select, lead, manage and develop a new employee.  This provides the employee and manager with information to define strengths and areas of challenges to support performance, and retention after the hire. 

Top performing organizations integrate human resources with sales leadership to facilitate recruitment, selection, development and retention of the “right” sales team members.

Commit to hiring the best…Effective employee selection is no longer a human resources issue… it is a strategic leadership challenge that impacts the bottom-line.  Poor hires impact a company’s sales, profitability, shareholder value, and customer retention.  As companies today struggle to compete in an ever-changing and competitive marketplace, knowing you have a team of people who exhibit the rights skills, characteristics and abilities is crucial for success.

At Growth Dynamics, our research has proven that sales professionals who “fit” the role, “fit” your company, and “fit” the customer, will stay longer, be more effective and offer a sustained competitive advantage to your company and your customers.  

 

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Improving ramp-up times is a top goal for sales leaders.

Improving ramp-up times is a top goal for sales leaders.

According to a recent 2016 Sales Enablement Survey, one of the top goals of sales leadership today is to decrease new salesperson ramp-up time to full productivity by implementing methods and processes that eliminate wasted time and assure the proper leadership engagement early on to support training and development.

Many of today’s sales managers bring on a new sales professional and then become too busy or get sidelined with other priorities... dropping the ball on the new hire’s on-boarding, orientation, and training. Overlooking the opportunity to decrease the “ramp-up” time of the new sales professional is a massive miss... does this happen to your organization?

At GDI, our research shows there are 3 critical steps to assure the best on-boarding process. These are:

1. Accurately define the sales role so the “right” people are hired and developed for the position.

2. Structure the on-boarding program to target the most important metrics that allow for early sales performance and success.

3. Require sales leadership involvement to monitor, coach, and lead the on-boarding plan and process.

As today’s sales arena becomes more competitive and complex, the “right” sales professional wants to get up-to-speed quickly to perform for the company and for their own benefit. If a company can define Top Performance sales and also develop an effective, process-oriented on-boarding and orientation program, a sales professional can be performing in the role within 60-90 days. Even in the most complex roles where high-tech equipment or solutions are required, arming a sales professional with the metrics for success, product/service support & training, internal experts and resources, and providing them with the tools and leadership to get started are advantages that should not be delayed.

In addition, require their direct manager to spend time focused on their development, support and engagement needed to move ahead. Once a solid foundation is in place, the “right” top performers will do what they do best…get out and start making introductions, learning and moving toward new business development with confidence and success.

As a side, as leadership of high performing companies are defining top performance standards, the technology, tools, and solutions to attract, select, and hire better sales professionals who FIT will decrease this ramp-up time. At GDI, we are seeing that many VP’s of Sales, Presidents, and CEOs are modifying the sales recruitment process to be more sales-leadership centric to recruit the right people who bring the skills, characteristics, motivators, and attributes needed to FIT the role.

Having Top Performance defined with a targeted process to hire the right people is #1. Having an effective on-boarding model that supports the position promotes on-going success, optimizes leadership efforts and will assure retention of your most valued asset... the sales professional.

How does your company hire Top Performers? How do they on-board and lead the team? Please leave a comment with how you are decreasing your ramp up times and what changes you have noticed.

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