Hiring Sales Reps: Is ‘Hire Fast, Fire Fast’ Right for You?

How to hire a sales rep superstar

A popular approach to hiring sales reps is to hire fast and fire fast. If you’re going to do that, there are several things you have to take into consideration.

Considerations When Hiring Sales Reps “Fast”

When you hire salespeople fast, you don’t complete the same level of due diligence as when you are intentional and thoughtful. That isn’t your objective.

Your objective is to bring somebody on board, give them a chance to succeed or fail, then quickly determine whether or not you will retain them.

This means you could hire someone who has sold you on themselves but may not be the best fit. When you’re diligent in your hiring, that’s just plain frustrating. But when you plan to fire them fast, if they aren’t suitable, that’s okay. It simply means you must be prepared to hire a lot of reps over a period of time until you find one who is a fit.

While you may be mentally prepared for the revolving door of sales staff, it can create organizational stress for your team that isn’t quite as primed as you are.  To lessen the strain and increase your odds of finding your sales superstar, take these 4 steps – then let the fun begin.

1.    Get Diligent About Onboarding

With the increased amount of hiring and firing, you need a very structured onboarding plan. You’re going to be welcoming many salespeople until you find your star. Include training to provide each new rep the information they need to get off to a running start.

Here are the three primary topics we include when we design onboarding plans for clients:

  1. Solutions. Focus on what you expect a new rep would sell first. Since you don’t know if they’re going to work out, don’t train them and everything. Be sure to include the value proposition information they need to quickly have an intelligent conversation with a prospect.
  2. Process. You expect a sales rep to know how to sell, but they need your guidance on how to sell your solutions successfully.
  3. Systems. With high rep turnover, you want to be sure every prospect they touch has notes about the most recent conversation, the follow-on activity, and any quotes or proposals presented. Now the next salesperson can quickly pick up where the last one left off.

Create a plan you can implement quickly and easily over and over and over or you will exhaust yourself and your organization. Continual onboarding can be very draining. When you have training outlined, it removes some of that stress. You know exactly what you’re going to do for the first 4, 6, 8 or 12 weeks of a new salesperson’s tenure.

2.    Adjust Sales Performance Expectations

With a fast hiring and firing strategy, you also want a very specific set of performance expectations to measure against. In this scenario, you need to know what they should be doing in week one just as clearly as week twelve. Document the activities and quantity you are expecting.

Now you have a roadmap you can measure new salespeople’s performance against. It provides a plan for your coaching discussions and regular meetings. Over time, you’ll also collect the data analytics to predict which reps won’t make it after only a matter of weeks.

Be straightforward and share your expectations with the rep both after and before the hire. Don’t sugarcoat it. If you’re going to hire and fire fast, let that sales rep know what they’re signing up for before they accept the position.

New reps will work harder from their first day of employment when your expectations are crystal clear.

3.    Set First Sale Expectations

Of course one of your metrics must be when you want to see a first sale and what it might include.

When you hire a hunter, it may be unrealistic to expect that they will close a new account within the first 90 days. However, a salesperson could uncover a project or some other service that would show you they have the ability to sell. What you really want to monitor is how many new opportunities are entering the pipeline and their quality.

If your new sales rep is filling the pipeline with qualified opportunities, it may be reason enough to retain them for another 60 days to see what happens next.

4.    Monitor Their Sales Ability

As with any rep you hire, plan to shadow them. Listen in on their calls and attend sales meetings, paying close attention to how well they’re implementing their activities. It’s not enough that your rep is completing activities. You want to know how well they’re doing it.

The best way to determine their progress is to participate regularly and lead them.

Hiring and firing quickly requires close monitoring so you can determine if your salesperson has the skills to work out.

My Sales Hiring Recommendation

Personally, I don’t agree with the hire fast – fire fast strategy. I would rather see you take the time to do your due diligence and identify a rep who has the skills, experience, acumen and desire to be successful in your organization. Hiring and onboarding require a lot of effort. Why go through it multiple times if you can avoid it? If you follow a proven process, your new salesperson should be successful. You still want to use performance expectations to monitor them, and if they aren’t meeting your objectives, let them go.

In spite of my personal hiring beliefs, we have clients who use the hire fast – fire fast approach. It may take a number of sales reps before you find your superstar. Use these 4 steps to do it systematically, with less stress on your team, and increase your odds of success.

If you haven’t been successful hiring salespeople, or this is your first attempt, contact us and we’ll put a hiring process in place to find, hire and onboard the right people for your team.

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