In part 1 of this series, we talked about looking at the individual characteristics of a great salesperson, specifically four important traits.
Now comes the hard part. Let's assume you have a great candidate with the right characteristics, the money is on-target, and they want the job. They still might not be right for your company.
Choosing between two dominant types of salespeople
Joe Kraus, partner at Google Ventures, believes there are two types of salespeople—expeditionary and process-oriented—and I tend to agree with him.
Expeditionary salespeople are focused on the thrill of the hunt, new markets and ambiguity. He describes them as the "rapid prototypers" of the sales world. The downside? These salespeople typically get bored as the organization grows. They dislike rigidity and formal processes.
The process-oriented salesperson thrives on repeatable, scalable processes. They enjoy building teams, tracking metrics and tackling managerial challenges. The downside to this type is frustration with an imperfect product or process, as well as a need for structure and clear direction from management.
How to find the right fit for your team
These types of salespeople can and do coexist, and we've found that these different types fill in each other's shortcomings and can balance your sales team (if done correctly). However, the wrong type of hire at a managerial level could seriously affect scalability or effectiveness of a sales organization.
When hiring for your brokerage, ask yourself what kind of salesperson you're looking for. If it's new market expansion, or you are an early stage company, look for someone that doesn't need all the answers and let them run at the problem. Then build your processes based on what’s working. If you are managing a more established group with defined scripts and metrics, I'd advise a more process-oriented salesperson.
Avoid common pitfalls
Assessing sales candidates takes a lot of practice, even more than other roles. You are dealing with professional "people-persons" that are paid to be liked. Because of that, it's easy to fall into the "cultural trap" and hire people off of pure likeability or cronyism. Many early stage companies, including us, have fallen into the cultural trap.
To avoid that, include individuals from other departments or teams at your brokerage for a “checks-and-balances” approach to keep you from hiring people that you simply "like" because of some unconscious bias.
Finally, salespeople are paid to persuade. While it doesn't happen often, we have had a couple cases this year of candidates lying on resumes about previous employers, or about their previous performance. I recommend using your personal network to investigate candidates you're not sure about, and always ask the hard questions. Candidates with nothing to hide are happy to discuss their successes—and their failures.