What is the Most Important Step in the Sales Hiring Process?
The most important step in the sales hiring process is not writing the perfect ad so you attract the best possible pool of candidates....and it's not going through a rigorous qualification and screening process that saves you valuable time....and it's not improving the selection process by asking targeted interview questions that go right to the heart of a candidate's potential short-comings....and it's not doing all of these things in a predictable, repeatable, scalable, systematic manner that allows you to develop a deep virtual bench of sales talent.
Now, while all of these things are absolutely crucial to successfully hiring A-players for your sales and business development teams, these are NOT the most important step in the sales hiring process.
What is the most important step in the sales hiring process?
In my opinion, based on the hundreds of sales hiring decisions we have helped facilitate with our clients, the final and most important step in a killer sales hiring process is executing a well-planned 90-day ramp up for every new sales person. And yet we see so many (otherwise smart) sales managers either skip this step entirely or just go through the motions and do it "half-fast" (so to speak).
Why do some sales managers miss this critical step? Here are a couple of theories:
Rigourous Process Breeds Complacency - We help our clients implement a powerful sales hiring system - the "Sales Talent Acquisition Routine" (or STAR Hiring System) designed and developed by Dave Kurlan, Founder and CEO of Objective Management Group. It is rigourous and highly predictive. So when a strong candidate for a sales position successfully navigates through this system, many sales managers make the mistake of assuming they can skip this final step because they've just hired such a strong sales person. Wrong! The 90-day on-boarding phase is absolutely crucial to successfully running the STAR Hiring System.
Lack of Time, Focus, and Discipline - Time is scarce for busy, productive sales managers. Whether it is an unrelenting travel schedule, the pressing urgency of helping sales team members win important deals, or the crushing demands of internal meetings with senior management and other departments, many sales managers struggle with staying focused and prioritizing what needs to get done. So while intellectually they may understand the importance of planning and executing a strong 90-day ramp up plan for new sales hires, if they do not put it on their calendars and budget the time to invest it simply does not happen.
Dangerous Delegation and Responsibiltiy Shift - Because many sales managers are so busy the logical step is to delegate the ramp up and on-boarding of a new sales person to someone on their team. While getting other people from the company engaged in the on-boarding process is a great idea, it is still the sales manager's responsibility to make sure the new sales person is getting the help and support they need to get off to a strong start.
I have seen sales managers ask a (not-so-busy) sales person on their team to "take the lead" on getting the new sales hire up to speed. What kind of lessons will that (not-so-busy) sales person pass along to the new hire? This kind of "Tribal Training" can be dangerous and demotivating to the new hire because it can drive home the wrong lessons and send a bad message.
I know of a company where the first thing the "veteran" sales person taught to the eager new sales hire was how to make more money by fudging expense reports. I'm NOT kidding - there was a genuine fear that if the new sales person ever turned in an honest expense report it would stand out and raise alarms. Now there's a great message to pass along to a new employee!
Pure Laziness - I'm not going to sugarcoat it. I think there are some sales managers who are just plain lazy and choose to skip this important step in the sales hiring process because to do it right requires a lot of hard work, consistent follow up, detailed coaching and feedback conversations, a signficant investment of time and effort, and strong focus and discipline to make it happen. Not every sales manager is willing to put in the effort required to do a great job with new hire on-boarding (even when their job might depend on it).
As CEO, President or Business Owner what can you do to make sure your sales managers are focusing on this final and (in my opinion) most important step in the sales hiring process? What is the single most important element of a successful 90-day on-boarding program? All of our clients who use a candidate screening tool from Objective Management Group will tell you they view this report as "the Bible" for bringing on new sales people. The information and insights available are remarkable and help sales leaders focus on the most important issues to address with a new sales hire. Simply put, using this tool the right way will shorten the timeframe from hire date to revenue production. It's like magic.