Here’s a scenario you’re familiar with. Your best rainmaker has just left the organization and the candidates applying for the open position are mediocre at best, based on the sales assessment you’ve asked them to take. Some managers will hire one of those mediocre candidates just to fill the position, and they’ll hope something good might happen. But there is another strategy you can use: Tap an existing employee from another department who has the right characteristics to succeed in sales.
Using Sales Assessments
At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of talented unemployed sales professionals rose. But the economic recovery is strong, and sales professionals are in demand. A LinkedIn report shows “[h]ires for these roles have increased 45% YoY.” The same report reveals that many of these hires have transitioned into the profession from a non-sales background.
How do you know which employees in your organization could make great sales reps? Your first clue will come from using sales assessments. And when you ask employees to take a full psychometric assessment, you’ll also have insight into what motivates each individual.
Prevent Hiring Mistakes
Before you approach an employee who works in human resources or operations about a transfer to the sales department, know what you’re getting into. This employee might appear outgoing and enthusiastic, leading you to think they could be a natural in a sales role. A sales assessment will tell you whether they have the skills to collaborate with and educate a prospect. Even if they don’t have those skills, you’re not looking at a game-over situation.
Employees who score high for coachability have potential. These team members are willing to listen and to change their behavior, meaning they could succeed in sales.
Another reason to prospect for your next sales rep in-house relates to fit. I frequently talk about the Four FitsTM of hiring as being essential markers for employee success. Successful team members likely already have a great company and customer fit. They understand your mission and your product or service line. And they also know the kinds of customers you typically reach.
Sales assessment results will reveal the level of job fit and manager fit for internal candidates. If you’re trying to replace a hard-driving rep who fit the profile of a Challenger but your internal candidate scores well as an administrative assistant, you may well have a show-stopping situation. Before you make your decision, consider the other scores in that employee’s assessment results. It may turn out that they’ll do well in a customer service role which isn't exactly the outcome you want, but they could make the transition when you have an appropriate position available.
Don’t neglect to consider manager fit. Not every employee and manager fit is perfect. You may prefer to meet with employees once a week and have little interaction between sessions. While that arrangement may allow you to optimize your work schedule, many employees will not feel supported. Our research shows that reps who sense a lack of caring by their manager or their company will soon move on. Before you encourage an employee to move into the sales department, be honest with yourself about what they need from you and your ability to give them sufficient support.
Your Sales Pitch
Earlier this year, the Wall Street Journal reported on how few people want to go into the sales profession. They fear the nightmare scenario of Glengarry Glen Ross, and for some employees, no amount of money is worth the stress and aggravation. It’s your job to change the ongoing perception of today’s sales job. Remind them that they’ll spend most of their time trying to figure out how to help prospects and customers solve problems. That angle will appeal to team members who score high on the altruistic scale. In addition, employees who have their eye on the corner office or who hope to run their own business someday should know that they’ll find more success if they have demonstrated sales experience.
Not every sales hire will come from outside the organization. You can find the best person for the job by relying, in part, on sales assessments.
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