A checklist for the sales recruitment leaders
Measuring talent quality through certain standardised platforms is the approach that will lead to success in recruitment
There is a stigma attached to sales. How do you then hire for this profile? Here is a checklist, as captured from a People Matters – Aspiring Minds roundtable discussion
One of the major concerns expressed by many sales recruitment leaders is that of high attrition within the first quarter of employment. This gives way to the rise of other problems like poor customer relationship management, lower levels of employee morale and decrease in productivity numbers. To understand these challenges in the true sense, industry veterans agree on four main points that need some deliberation before devising the hiring plan for sales positions.
Here’s the checklist that the sales recruiters work on, as they chalk the hiring plan for the function:
Balancing quality and quantity:
When hiring for the sales function, it is very difficult to balance quantity and the quality quotient. “Measuring talent quality through certain standardized platforms is the approach that will lead to success in recruitment,” says Himanshu Aggarwal of Aspiring Minds. It is only through objectifying talent measurement, that companies can resolve the conflict of hiring for quality against quantity. Interactions with recruiters affirm that the conflict between quality and quantity is prevalent across industries. Another pain point is that it is tough to administer testing methodologies on a large scale. “Logistics, coordination and IT issues are the obstacles when testing for hiring sales professionals,” points out Vibhash Naik of HDFC Life.
Defining the sales demographics:
One of the most important factors while hiring for the sales function is the location from where you hire and where a candidate is placed after on-boarding. With respect to urban and rural sales, organizations need to benchmark talent in silos. Again, the solution lies in bringing objectivity from a demographic perspective in the talent acquisition space. Most of attendees of the roundtable affirmed that expectations are different from candidates coming from tier 1, tier 2 and tier 3 cities. Further, there is a need for sales organizations to identify the territories where their business proposition works well with their customer.
For example, in a more mature market zone, personality traits like conscientiousness are more important than extroversion, which is pivotal in a growing market area. Selling strategies in a territory where you are not present need to be very aggressive, while building long-term relationships is critical in a market that has already been penetrated into. Hence, to get access to the broadest number of people who are likely to succeed, organizations look at their selling environment and hire people who have proven in the past that they can sell in a similar environment.
Selling the sales role:
In India, there is a level of social undesirability attached to a sales position. Sales recruitment teams often face a major challenge in convincing candidates about these roles. Hence, it is considered aspirational to achieve targets for sales positions by recruitment teams. Vineet Agrawal of Axis Bank shares, “Showing a clear career graph while hiring for the sales function is the key to attaining the right talent with the right attitude. If hiring managers will show a career path of becoming a Branch Manager in a certain period of time with certain levels of achievement at the time of hiring itself, applicants will be more focused.” Stating what is expected at the hiring stage itself makes it easier for recruiters to eliminate and select.
Building objective assessments and personality tests:
Besides the cognitive ability and the sales aptitude of candidates, there are personality traits which should be tested while hiring for sales positions. Abhijit Bhattacharya of ICICI Bank says, “There needs to be a tool to x-ray the personality of the person – regardless of the location of the candidate. It needs to be developed with a lot of technical inputs specific to the organization, to find out the key behaviors in a sales officer which make him succeed.” Emotional balance is also considered useful in relationship selling. Too cold emotionally and you would not be able to build relationships, too hot and too emotionally-charged, you would not be able to maintain relationships. This is applicable across industries as well as cultures. Hence, judgment and balance in terms of emotion stability are required, though such tests for emotional competence are challenging in case of mass-hiring.
The above-mentioned points prove that as talent acquisition evolves, HR will partner with every function as it does with sales, to enhance productivity. The role of recruitment team will not remain restricted to talent sourcing; it will involve analyzing performance results once the resources are on the job.