Building a Great Sales Team

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According to the Pareto Principle, otherwise known as the 80/20 rule, 80% of any output will be generated by 20% of the total input. This means that most of the time, 20% of your sales people produce 80% of your business. How do you improve then on the 80% of hiring mistakes that will be made? Here are some suggestions.


What to Look For


What do you look for when hiring salespeople? If you want to separate the higher achievers from the chaff, you need to look for the following things. First of all, you need people who are 100% capable of accepting responsibility for results, have extreme self-discipline, are goal orientated, honest and don’t take “no” personally. The people you hire also need to have great empathy for the customer and the needs and wants of your clients.


However, finding these traits in a job interview may be difficult. How can you tell what is sincere and what is just a front? Remember, product knowledge can be learned, and experience isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be. So look for people whose resumes, references and, yes, job interviews suggest a strong work ethic with a desire to succeed at whatever they attempt.


Where to Look


Find out where networking events are being held in your community. Go to public seminars on sales topics or go to job fairs. If someone makes a strong impression on you, get a business card or phone number. Build a database of salespeople by networking in the community and meeting people when you’re not interviewing. You will then have a list of candidates to call for interviews when you do hold them. If you have a database set up, then you won’t be tempted to hire the first person to walk through the door because you’re in a difficult spot.


Other Options


Some places to look for sales people can be in your own organization but in other departments. For example, you can interview employees from the stockroom, receiving or shipping departments. These people already know your products from handling the merchandise on the job. For the right people, it’s not too much of a jump to shoot into sales.


You could also hire from your competition. These people already know the ins and outs of sales and knowing how former employers, now competitors, operate will give them a leg up. However, if hired as new employees, they may have difficulty in adjusting to the way your organization does things. They can even nitpick about how their former bosses did things better.


If expanding, you can look at the go-getters in your current sales staff. This suggestion is not as obvious as it seems, as some companies neglect current employees when expanding. The advantages of using a current employee base are that current salespeople would need less training and would basically only have to be reassigned to the new area.


A great sales staff does best, of course, when the company is good and honest in its dealings. A great sales staff also knows how to meet customers’ needs, wants and expectations. With the right choices, that sales staff can be yours.


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  • Jeff Ruzicka
    Jeff Ruzicka
    Thank you for the comments.  I think personality tests can be helpful but you have to look at qualifying things in everything.  What do I mean?  My test reported that I would do very well in military activities.  I did fine in the military but I did not excel because I didn't really care for it.  There was a truth in it because it also said I'd be a good peace officer which i never tried for but I think it was correct.  My point is don't let personality tests be a limiter.  They have value but so do people.  Thanks again.
    To build a great sales team is always very important.If your team have the knowledge , commitment and love to sell and have gaol and training set for them .They can accomplish the sales performance.
  • Walter O
    Walter O
    Great and true article.
  • Genevieve B
    Genevieve B
    I think I should become a hiring manager because I always been thinking that way all my life.
  • LaSonya T
    LaSonya T
    Do you recommend that employers require sales staff interviewees to take the personality tests?
  • Kathy B
    Kathy B
    Excellent article

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