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How to Hire and Develop Effective Salespeople

Posted By NAFCD, Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Identify the success factors.

To hire effectively, you have to be absolutely clear about the kind of person you are looking for. You don’t just want a job description; you want a description of the person you are seeking.

First, you must gain a meaningful understanding of the personality qualities shared by your top salespeople. They are probably persuasive, able to read others’ reactions, and capable of bouncing back from rejection. But what else do they have? Is it high energy? Discipline? Good analytical skill? Assertiveness? A solutions-oriented mindset?

Those attributes, once pinpointed, become the profile of your ideal candidate and, therefore, the model you should use when hiring new people. The closer your applicants match the profile of your top performers, the more likely they will meet or exceed your performance expectations.

Avoid Overvaluing Experience.

Conventional wisdom is that experience will prepare someone to hit the ground running. But the cost can be high for hiring managers who assume experience equates to talent. All too frequently, “experienced” job seekers don’t live up to this promise. Ten years of experience can be one year of bad experience repeated 10 times. Effective hiring has less to do with checking for experience than it does with uncovering potential.

Data show there are many people out there in the general population with untapped sales potential; more so than half the workers already in the sales profession, in fact. This is not to say that experience should be disregarded, but experience should not be the primary determinant in making a hiring decision. Past experience does not necessarily equal future success.

Consider using a personality assessment.

The information from an in-depth personality assessment can provide you with the insights you need to make a better-informed decision.

Will the individual fit in with your culture? Work well with others on your team? Connect with his or her manager? Those are the important nuances that can make all the difference as to whether an individual will succeed.

A validated personality profile can provide you with a measurable, objective view of an applicant.

Use the interview process as an opportunity to address concerns.

Interviews often end up being a ritualistic dance in which applicants and employers are both trying to put their best feet forward – and end up tripping over each other.

Sometimes, a new employee’s best performance takes place during the interview. Use that stage of the hiring process to probe areas that concern you.

If you have questions about the applicant’s level of resilience or how they will deal with rejection, you can ask questions about past situations in which they struggled or faced disappointment. You can ask about how the applicant felt and what he or she did to make sure the scenario wouldn’t occur again.

Through that exploration, you may discover that the individual is well suited to the opening you have. Or it could save you from making a huge mistake.

Find the right fit and coach for success.

The work doesn’t end once you find the right person for the job. The first few days for a new employee are the most critical. As a manager, you want to ensure that new hires are given the tools to be successful. In return, they will know your company is committed to them and invested in their future. Team members who feel valued are more likely to stay with with the organization over the long term.

By coaching new employees as soon as they start their new jobs and setting up a training program with milestones, they will understand how to avoid potential clashes and adapt their work style to fit in with your organization’s culture.

Provide ongoing development.

To keep employees engaged, you must make a solid commitment to developing their potential. In doing so, business projections become more predictable, and you retain more top performers.

Development can take the form of personalized coaching, team building, or management training—or a combination. The key is to keep your top performers engaged so that they don’t feel tempted to leave for a competing organization. Ongoing development is not limited to the new employee; veteran team members and leaders all benefit greatly from ongoing development and growth.

To learn more about Caliper and special discounts to NAFCD members, visit

Caliper is a human capital analytics company leveraging decades of data and validated assessment results to predict and select high-quality candidates. Caliper partners with all types of organizations, industries, and sectors – from Fortune 500 companies to small businesses and from government agencies to non-profits. We help companies reduce the risk of bad hiring decisions; build high-performing teams; and engage, develop, and retain their employees. Contact us to learn more.

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2018 NAFCD Annual Convention