HR WhatNow : Hiring The Right Sales Person August 18, 2020

Sales is probably one of the functions that is hardest to hire for.

You can’t do without it, but you can’t get it right either.

Hiring a good salesperson is the dream of every employer (and we are talking about the ‘Hunters’ in the sales function). A good salesperson eases up a lot of burden of the company/department regardless of the establishment’s size. But getting it wrong will get you south very quickly too.

From interviewing to probation, then to confirmation and finally attrition, the process of every wrong hire can set you back, up to 4 months minimally in the market, and not mentioning the hiring budget that you wasted as well.

Before you know it, the year is up, the money is spent and there are no ROI from it.

This is one of the most common problem faced by companies across the board and we see it happening in so many of our client’s portfolio. As an operating company ourselves, we too face such issues, hence this article is to share some tips on how to detect the right (or wrong) hire.

Image: brandyourself.com

Define as clearly as possible the qualities of the candidate

It is not just about what are their technical competencies, past sales records or experiences. Soft skills are equally as important for the job. Easily overlooked qualities like level of organization, creativity to get around issues, qualities of speaking up and standing their grounds, level of adoption and acceptance to new things.

These are all elements that add up to the success of a salesperson during operations. Failure to specify the exact profile of the candidates is like buying a house with the requirement “Big enough”, “Square layout” and “No lower than 3rd floor”. You just won’t get the right one.

Don’t rely your assessment purely on just interviews

It is difficult to determine a person based on 3,4 or even 8-10 rounds of meet ups. Because the information you can get is always narrowed down. If they have background experience in other companies, try and see who you can link up to in that company who may be able to connect you to someone who can neutrally support you with an opinion. Taking reference from the candidates is another way to get some insights to them but finding your own source of reference is always more preferred


If their resume has glaring issues, interview them (some) too.

This doesn’t mean that you start interviewing everyone who applied for the job. But many times when interviewing a resume that is less likeable, you get to see how the candidate behaves and react under stress and put in a situation where they have to ‘defend’ their portfolio.

This is a necessary quality because in sales, you don’t get customers liking every part of your product all the time and in some situations, they may even heavily criticise the product in order to get a good deal out of it.

How well your sales representative response and handle those situations can determine the outcome of the discussion.

Image: Inc.com

If they are new to the job market, look at their creativity level. If they have some experienced in the market, look for their adaptation level. If they are very experienced, look for their network level.


There is no one size fits all solution in hiring, once you decide which type of profile you need to hire you need to start asking the right questions to those candidates. Looking for everything out of one person is rarely going to work out well in the hire.

Working on what they are best in or have accumulated the most on is probably going to benefit your company better.

Hiring Fresh Graduates

Since you can’t expect fresh graduates to be able to lead an introduction to a wide existing network in the market (because they are fresh graduates), look into how they have resolved other issues in a creative manner, or you may even pose questions during the hiring process and do that observation.

Hiring Mid-Level Professionals

Candidates that have worked for awhile and have some experience in the market probably have some network to work on immediately, but don’t bank on that network too much. It may not be altogether that adhesive to them professionally. 

Rather, these candidates are in the position where they can merge some experience (industry and function) with fresh ideas (technological or processes). Look at how they may introduce new processes of doing things from their previous work. These are potential management folks who could lead the department. So their inputs will be invaluable for expansion.

Hiring Experienced Professionals

There is an asset that only this class of hires have, which is the network that they have built around their careers all these times. They know the who’s who in the market. The kind of relationships and connections that the market functions around and they should have the lead in to some of those connections quickly to build a business case for the company.

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Speaking of Network for Referrals

While you are looking at resumes of potential candidates, it will be great if you are able to do a pre-screening of the candidate online to look at their public profiles to see who they are connected to.

They may have worked in companies whom you have been pursuing as customers for a long time or for the B2C companies, the candidate may have an Instagram profile followed by your target audience or have connections to profiles with a strong followings that you can work with.

Extra

In this current digitalised world, where our customers, individually, are so connected to technology, doing sales is very much different from how it is just a decade ago. Likewise, the resources that the salesperson can tap into are now a lot more than in the past. So, one of the evolving criteria for a good salesperson is someone that can leverage on the data that digitalization brings.

The more your salesperson understands about the new prospects, the better and more prepared they are in customizing their messages to those prospects, thereby, increasing the response rates and inquiries.

That is why at eNable we work with leads & intel providers like LUUMINATE to support us with corporate intelligence & data for us to craft out contextualized messages to our target audiences. With such leads and intel, our process involves creating messages that talks about our prospect’s situation rather than pitching in the dark on our product & services.

In Summary

Hiring the right candidate has been an age-long issue and companies that have gotten it right over the years, have also spent considerable amount of time and money in doing so. But still they don’t get it right all the time. For the local companies in Singapore, it is even more critical to get it right and our take is that it is better ‘Not to spend’ than to ‘Spend it wrongly’.

If you already have some hires but is having a challenging time working with them, please connect with one of our experienced consultant to have a non-obligatory call where they can share with you from internal and external experiences dealing with this matter.

ABOUT ENABLE CONSULTING

Established in 2013, enable Consulting is a specialised HR solutions provider for small and medium-sized enterprises.

We believe that having a strong and robust HR function is a key driver for continuous growth in any successful business. It is on this belief that we have built many successful partnerships with clients across different industries.

We are a people business and it is our talent pool that defines us. Each and every one of our consultants is highly professional with many years of experience in HR management and services.

Our Consultants are PMC certified to further be able to help local SMEs improve and optimise their HR operational efficiency through Singapore Grants. enable is about offering affordable, high value adding solutions to improve business performance; while at the same time nurturing and inspiring a fair and respectful working environment. But above all, enable is about enabling you.

Contact us for a non-obligatory Q&A consultation today