A network of franchise owners was growing frustrated with mixed results from hiring salespeople. They had come to rely on a personality assessment as part of their hiring process. While it produced interesting results when hiring operations team members to work in their business, it needed to be improved for hiring salespeople. It was taking too long to hire salespeople, too long for them to ramp up to generate consistent revenue, and at best, only 50% of the sales hires were still in place 12 months after their hire date (and in some cases, it was only 30%).
We recommended a study to compare recently hired salespeople (hired within the past two years) who were considered top performers with recently hired salespeople who were not performing and were on their way out. We identified the attributes of the high performers and the differences between high and low performers, developing a tailored fit scale that could be used for future hiring criteria.
We configured an Express Screen license and made it available to franchise owners actively hiring salespeople. We worked closely with the recruiting firm some owners were using and with owners hiring independently. We reviewed sourcing strategies, rewrote the job scorecard, drafted a new ad to attract stronger candidates, conducted interview training, and discussed leveraging the information in the reports for better interviews and onboarding. We rolled this program out across the network, starting with early adopters and key influencers willing to do whatever it took to succeed.
Not all owners embraced this new approach (at least initially), so we had a unique opportunity to compare similar businesses hiring salespeople. The only difference (aside from geography) was that some used our sales hiring approach and pre-hire assessment, and some did it the old way. Salespeople hired using our methodology produced revenue significantly faster (33 days versus 58 days), had a higher average order value ($2,275/month versus $1,550/month), and a much higher retention rate (90% after 12 months versus 56% after 12 months).
Hiring salespeople is different. What works for other positions in your company typically will not work when it is time to attract, interview, select, and onboard high-performing salespeople. You must change your sales hiring approach to build your desired sales team.
A concrete ready mix company had a sales team focused on price rather than value. They needed help to beat irrational competitors willing to go below cost to win the business. And even when they won the business, the relationship was short-lived because the customer would switch when they found a better price. Our client needed a better sales process focused on building value rather than selling exclusively on having the lowest price.
We evaluated the sales organization and learned that the team needed to follow a consistent sales process, was not creating urgency in their sales conversations, and that the sales managers needed to have constant coaching conversations to guide the sales team and help them improve.
We worked on improving the sales leadership skill sets so managers would be in a position to coach and reinforce our new approach. We also helped each salesperson improve their selling competencies, particularly gaining confidence in talking about money and learning a consultative sales process. We then flipped the script and worked with the team to have conversations focused on the total cost per yard of concrete poured (including labor cost and efficiency gains for the overall project) rather than just the material cost per yard poured.
The average order value went from about $68/yard poured (where they would be thrilled to make $3/yard in profit) to $80/yard poured with a profit/yard over $12. By helping clients focus on the total cost than just the material cost, my client was able to win better projects, profits increased by 400%, and not only did turnover improve across the sales organization, but we were also able to attract the top salespeople from competitors who saw us winning better jobs.
Sales is an exchange of money for value. If your sales team can't build the business case and define how your product or service will create value for your clients, their only option is to sell on price. And customers who chose you based on your having the lowest price will leave you the moment they can get a better deal.