One of the hardest parts of being a sales leader is making sure you are hiring the right people. I’ve heard plenty of advice over the years on how to ace this part of the job, but some of the best guidance come from an old friend of mine, Jim Speredelozzi.
Jim is the Vice President of Global Inside Sales for Black Duck Software. His 20+ years in sales has meant he has hired a lot of sales reps. He himself started out as an entry level sales guy right out of college. No experience, no interest in sales, and no idea how good he’d be at it, Jim took a job at PCs Compleat in 1996 and has stuck with sales ever since.
Along his journey from entry level sales rep to starting at Black Duck as a VP in 2015, many jobs have offered no training or assistance in getting their new hires up to speed. Although, there were a few gem gigs in there that provided training, teamwork and great management. And that is where his personal and professional progress was really made.
Jim’s main philosophy on hiring salespeople is that – just like his own story – experience doesn’t matter. As a manager of 40 people at Black Duck, only two of them had any significant sales experience before joining the team. And every single closer exceeded quota and went to President’s Club in 2016. Every Single One!
I recently pulled Jim away from the racquetball court, and asked him to let me in on his tips for hiring great salespeople. So listen up sales managers and follow this pro’s advice!
Who Cares About Sales Experience
Stop hiring salespeople because of their experience. Jim puts it, “People generally look for experience as proof of commitment to sales and with the hope that there has been some training that will allow them to hit the ground running.”
But, that isn’t always the case.
A lot of people with sales on their resume have gotten that far without any good training at all, or training that is totally not appropriate for your solution or product/market. By only looking at candidates with vast experience, you are really limiting your candidate pool, with no guarantees in return.
Instead, Jim suggests you should hire based on behavioral characteristics, like being a good listener, or someone who initiatives conversation This approach allows you to hire people with zero experience who can be easily trained to sell. Generally, you’ll find them to be more open to selling your way, to learning new approaches, and should accelerate to quickly fulfill your vision. You’ll make an investment in them, they will pay you back with energy, effort and loyalty.
Get Over the Time Commitment
Hiring a sales rep with no experience sounds like a major time commitment in getting them up to speed, right? Not necessarily. You are going to have to put in the time to get anyone new on board.
So stop thinking about that, just think about WHO you’d like to invest that time in. Taking time for training and teaching them about the company is well worth it if you got the right person.
Jim sums it up best when he said, “When it comes to hiring, you can either hire a blank canvas and paint the perfect sales rep on it, or you can hire someone else’s painting and spend the same or more time trying to fix it.”
No matter who you hire, you need to commit to enabling your salespeople. That could mean using your own time, or your team’s time, or hiring an enablement professional. In a perfect world, you would be doing all three. Just keep in mind, that more sales experience on a resume does not mean less time commitment for you.
Rethink Your Hiring Profile
The one surprising thing you need to know when hiring an ideal salesperson? Experience really doesn’t matter! Go with your gut and then invest time in your hire. Also make sure they use Spiro, the AI-Powered CRM that will eliminate data entry and let them focus on getting up to speed and close more deals fast!