A simple blueprint for handoffs defines roles/responsibilities and strengthens sales hiring partnerships
In hiring front-line sellers, organizations may flounder and fail when sales
hiring practices are left up to a single department. Sales managers frequently take short cuts. Recruiters and HR business partners often miss the mark because it’s challenging for them to assess selling skills. When selection responsibilities reside with one or the other department, costly mistakes are made.
The best solution is a shared selection process. Working together expedites the process, deploys experts appropriately and yields higher caliber hires.
Without a shared selection process…
For a sales manager, it may seem like selecting sales reps on your own would be easier than using an elaborate system. But a shared selection process helps you to avoid problems like these:
- Inability to come to terms with your top candidate because compensation expectations were not discussed upfront.
- New hire is struggling. Questions and doubts surface regarding actual level of experience.
- Top candidate accepts another job. Too much time elapsed between interview and offer.
- Time constraints cause you to rush and settle for “good enough.”
- Candidates apply but have an unfavorable impression of the job or company afterwards.
- Your team is not diverse in thought, approach or ideas.
- Reps have solid sales experience but aren’t performing at peak levels.
For a recruiter or HR business partner, it may seem like interviewing and selecting sales reps on your own would be faster than trying to work around a sales manager’s schedule. But a shared selection process is worth the extra effort because:
- Sales managers will do a better job of assessing responses to behavioral interview questions related to selling skills and situations. Their experience gives them insight you don’t have.
- Candidates are eager to explore fit and comfort level with the person they’ll report to.
- Two heads are better than one. Getting diverse points of view improves selection.
- You can’t fully answer questions about job role, account list, resources, expectations, goal setting, commission structure and so on.
- Better selection processes reduce the actual costs and the lost opportunity costs caused by vacant sales territories and revolving-door sales staffing.
This sample of a shared selection process shows how one organization divided the work. Light shading shows the work completed by HR specialists. The sales manager, working with HR, coordinates and leads items with dark shading.
The human resources department begins and ends the selection and hiring process. This helps to ensure consistency and fairness. It also helps to ensure that the company remains compliant with legal guidelines. With this process, the HR department can also maintain documentation and records.
For sales managers, a shared selection process minimizes administrative work and pre-qualifies candidates. Hiring managers lead steps 2-6.
Getting started with a shared process does require some time and effort at the onset. But making this investment of time upfront will save you and your company a great deal of money and time in the long run.
First, everyone involved in the shared selection process must have a common understanding and agreement about what the job entails and what indicates a strong candidate. Rather than relying on gut feel, expecting experience alone to indicate ability or “winging it” when it comes to selection, Sales Managers and Recruiters/HR Partners can work together to build a much stronger and more reliable foundation.
A good starting place is the Sales Competency Model. This will give you clarity right from the start about your ideal candidate. The rest of the steps in this partnership will line up nicely when you start with competencies. There are numerous resources, backed by research, for sales competencies. Check out the ATD model or the one from Objective Management Group.
At the onset, work to create a strong partnership between human resources and sales. By implementing a shared selection process, you’ll soon understand what your partner department needs in order to make the selection process successful and smart for the company. Over time, you’ll begin to anticipate and meet each other’s needs more often and more quickly.
Next, work toward universal adoption of this process in your sales department. To be valid and effective, it must be used for all candidates in like jobs. Sales managers and recruiters/HR partners must be able to rely on each other to understand and use competency, behavior and trait-based questions for assessment. Role plays, if you use them, should be executed the same way each time. Without consistency, the objectivity and benefits of the selection process will be diluted.
Now you’re ready to create your process, get training to fill in knowledge gaps, and launch your new shared selection process. Soon, you’ll be streamlined, systematic and proficient in your shared selection process.
Now what will you do with all the time you used to waste on unproductive hiring practices?
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