4 Strategies to Hire and Grow an Awesome Sales Team

Sales OrgOn August 20th, our very own Marc Jacobs, VP of Sales at Greenhouse, had the opportunity to speak at the 2015 Bowery Capital CRO Summit, a forum for idea exchange between executives and high-growth enterprise startups. Marc joined an impressive group of thought leaders and shared some best practices to help companies build a scalable sales machine.

Marc made clear that in order to hire a great sales team, you need to build a systematic recruiting process that will allow you to quickly gather the right data about potential candidates and make smart decisions in a timely manner. Historically, organizations have hired salespeople based on a gut feeling: how much we liked them, or how well they did at their last jobs. However, that is not the right approach and it is not scalable. Salespeople are great at selling - it’s their bread and butter.  They should be able to “sell us” on how good they are and tell us what we want to hear. Every sales candidate will claim that she was the top performer at her last company. Even if that is true, good performance in her last role does not guarantee success in a new role. The industry, the company size, the sales cycle or the environment might be completely different from their previous experience, so we really need to understand how to get past this surface conversation and dig deeper with behavioral questions and test them on the skills that we believe are essential for success.

There are many reasons that someone in sales might fail, such as inadequate training and coaching or an ineffective sales process. Assuming that your organization is providing an environment for sales success, the majority of failures can be traced back to the hiring process. Did we ask the right types of questions during the interview to determine if they are a good cultural fit? Did we test to see if they have the right skillsets to succeed in our environment? Building out the proper interview process upfront can prevent making a bad hire, which can cost the company a lot of wasted time and money down the road.

Here are a few steps that Marc shared about quickly building and scaling up a sales team:

1. Build out an environment for success

This includes:

  • An attractive compensation plan that not only drives the right behavior, but really rewards for overachievement
    Training and coaching to help salespeople succeed quickly
  • Clear career ladders and promotion plans
  • Specialization of roles

2. Figure out the ideal candidate profiles for the roles that you are trying to fill and break out the specific traits and attributes that you are looking for.

3. Prepare the right questions and test on the attributes that matter most

4. Build a referral culture within the entire organization and make sure the people on your team can clearly articulate to candidates the great opportunity of working in your organization

Once again, hiring great talent is not easy, but by building out a systematic and repeatable recruiting process makes your chances of success significantly greater.

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