There are many ways to misfire in hiring new business developers, four of which I covered in a previous blog. Many companies, of course, successfully acquire new sales talent every day, so it stands to reason that there are ways to do this right. In my opinion, companies that consistently succeed in bringing aboard great business developers do these three things:
- Assess Sales Aptitude
This is the hardest step. Many business leaders don’t want to “waste time and money” in finding out how suited candidates are to inside sales, outside sales, account management, etc. But would you hire a philosopher to build your house? Think of a good person you know who was hired to be a business developer and it didn’t work out. It may be because they weren’t in what Jim Collins, author of Good to Great, refers to as the right seat on the bus. I know a senior officer in a large bank who says he only made one hire without an aptitude test and after that costly and painful failure never made that same mistake again. There are many good aptitude tests. I recommend the Advanced Personality Questionnaire (APQ) by Dr. Larry Craft. It’s tuned for sales coaching and developing EQ.
- Thoroughly Interview
In smaller companies, the interview process might simply be a conversation with the sales manager or head of BD. That could work out okay, but successful businesses use the interview process to see how the candidate would fit into both the sales team and the company culture. Have you ever noticed that winning sports teams don’t have drama in the locker room? A star performer who isn’t a team player can wreck your growth plans. At the other extreme is the formal hiring interview arranged by corporate HR. These are well-intentioned and necessary for compliance with large company rules, regulations, procedures, and policies … but they can suck all the fun out of hiring someone. The result can be the selection of a business development candidate who fills the squares but won’t be able to fill your needs.
- Train and Motivate
Sometimes I see train and motivate used in separate steps. I think they are essentially one and the same. If you send new hires out ill-prepared to engage with prospective customers, their confidence level quickly drops. Not all that many universities offer majors in professional selling (ironically, there is no end to sales management offerings). If you have selected a candidate with good aptitude and in the interview found them to have good attitude, set them up for success with formal sales training and a mentor or sales coach. Give them the equipment and tools they need to do their jobs and then, and only then, send them on their way. Good salaries and incentives are desirable, of course, but purposeful work with a team they like headed by a boss they respect will do far more in helping your new business development talent meet your sales objectives and their career goals.