During 2020, businesses of all kinds have been forced to operate using a work-from-home model. This makes life incredibly challenging for recruiters, business owners and HR personnel who are looking to fill vacant job vacancies.
Since employees are based at home for the foreseeable future, the challenge for hiring businesses is identifying candidates that can thrive under their own initiative and all without direct supervision.
This challenge becomes even more apparent when it comes to hiring remote salespeople, who must possess the necessary discipline and drive to succeed outside the office environment in order to overcome the rejections and setbacks that are commonplace in sales. In this article we discuss how to hire a remote salesperson…
The Most Important Trait for a Remote Salesperson
The “Need for Achievement” is one’s desire to pursue excellence for the sake of achieving. Someone who possesses this trait, sets themselves challenging goals, works to achieve them, and then pushes as far as possible to achieve further.
In a 1961 book, “The Achieving Society”, psychologist David McClelland first realised the correlation between the Need for Achievement and a career in sales. McClelland notes that highly driven people are drawn to a career in sales because of the opportunity to control several responsibilities, such as:
- Taking risks.
- Choosing who their prospects will be.
- Finding creative ways to persuade.
- Tracking and moderating their own success.
This onus on personal responsibility in the pursuit of excellence is precisely what makes the Need for Achievement so critical to home-based salespeople. Any salesperson that works from home must be a self-starter who will perform even when they’re not being monitored.
The Risks of Hiring the Wrong Person
On the other end of the spectrum, salespeople that are lacking in the Need for Achievement may be attracted only to the chance to work remotely. Someone like this may see a home-based sales job as an opportunity to sit back and relax, revelling in the fact that there is little to no supervision to worry about.
This lack of drive and productivity can be absolutely devasting to a business. In fact, according to closeriq, the cost of hiring an underperforming sales professionals could be anywhere between 50-75% of their annual salary.
When you consider that the average base wage of a salesperson in the UK is almost £33,000 per annum, the consequence of hiring a poor salesperson could cost you somewhere in the region of £16,500-£24,750 when looking to hire a replacement.
When hiring for a remote sales role, it’s tempting to look for those who can talk the talk and appear to be a real go-getter during the interview. However, just because these candidates lack the Need for Achievement, it doesn’t mean they can’t sell and convincing you to give them the job may be the biggest sell they ever make.
The question is not, “can they sell?” But rather “will they sell?”
Steps to Hiring the Right Candidate
Now that you know precisely what kind of personality you’re after, you should take steps to get your role filled.
Although our current situation means that some aspects of the hiring process are different than what we’re used, such as holding interviews via video conferencing rather than face-to-face. The principles of the hiring process remain steadfast, and it’s vital that you follow the steps below to find your ideal remote salesperson.
Step #1: CV Review
Once you’ve posted your job listing and you start receiving CVs, the first port of call is to accurately identify those which you believe are going to be the high achievers that you crave.
Given how tough the job market has become during the pandemic, you might find that you’re receiving a lot of CVs and some which may not be relevant to the job listing.
When you review a CV, there are a few indicators that highlight those with or indeed, without the Need for Achievement:
- A candidate is passive, rather than an active candidate. If a sales professional has been out of work for a little while, there may be something behind it. Of course, they may be out of work for a good reason, but it’s always worth doing some digging if this is the case.
- The candidate has held several steady positions with some longevity and isn’t hopping from job to job.
- The candidate is able to turn over some concrete stats and metrics to highlight their previous success.
If you’re looking for someone to hit the ground running, narrow your search criteria to those with 2-3 years of experience in a similar-sized operation.
Sure, it’s tempting to see an outstanding candidate with a good performance record at a highly regarded company and think they’ll be able to operate with the same level of consistency for your business.
However, success at a large, well-regarded company is always easier, so you need to clarify whether their success was accomplished through their own effort or because they were backed by significant resource and strong brand recognition.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with that, but if you’re a start-up trainer company and you hire a salesperson from Nike, the results aren’t likely to be the same.
Step #2: Start a Sales Assessment
As we’ve mentioned already, candidates that don’t meet the Need for Achievement criteria can sell themselves exceptionally well in an interview situation. This means, before interviewing any candidate, it’s crucial that you ensure they are appropriate for what you’re offering.
An excellent way to screen your candidates before an interview is to undertake a sales assessment that measures Need for Achievement, competitiveness and optimism; the three non-teachable characteristics which are essential in a good salesperson.
Using this kind of assessment will help to eliminate the candidates that aren’t right for the role while promoting the highly desirable to the forefront.
Step #3: Behavioural Interviews
Candidates who come through the last step will earn the chance to set up a behavioural interview. Although behavioural interviews sound somewhat intimidating, it’s just a case of asking candidates to talk about their processes and behaviours in other roles so that you can get a clearer understanding of their personality. After all, as they say, the best indicator of future behaviour is past behaviour.
Some key questions you might want to ask may revolve around:
- Goals, achievements, and planning.
- The sacrifices they’ve made in their pursuit of success.
- Challenges of working remotely and without direct supervision.
Bringing on board a salesperson to work remotely without direct supervision is a huge challenge, but it is one that must be met if businesses want to continue to grow in these puzzling times.
Above all else, it’s absolutely crucial to evaluate a potential candidate’s Need for Achievement throughout the recruitment process, to ensure they have the necessary discipline and focus to work on their own initiative. With the right processes, communication and the right personalities, your business will be well equipped to succeed with the best people on board.
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