This is the final part of a podcast with Brian Zimmerman on “pitfalls to avoid when building an inside sales team.” You can find the 1st part of conversation here: Common Pitfalls When Building Inside Sales.
(Note: You can read a transcript of the conversation, you can listen to the podcast, or you can view a brief slideshare presentation of the highlights below.)
Hiring is a Process
Devon Warwick: A lot of our portfolio companies are in growth mode where they’re hiring. What are some pitfalls that they should be avoiding, particularly with the sales team?
Trish Bertuzzi: You need to have a process. So many people just wing it when it comes to hiring. You need to have a process for even just processing resumes. Have a checklist of your requirements. Have some way to look at a resume that is fact based not subjective. You need to have a process for peer interviews. You need to have a process for collecting feedback from everyone that’s involved in the interview process. This is not a place to wing it.
Brian Zimmerman: I think it all starts with your aspirations and your company culture and truly putting on paper how new hires have to fit into your culture.
What are those traits that are necessary? The job description is critical, and you can’t just go copy somebody else’s. It needs to be driven by your culture, and what I’ve seen is if they’re not a right fit, it had nothing to do with their ability. They didn’t have the same goals or the same aspirations. If you have a highly aggressive, highly motivated team, you’ve got to find that type of candidate. If you have long sales processes where people are methodical and it’s all about relationship building, that is a different behavior.
My recommendation is you’re always interviewing as a manager. You’re always looking for top talent. You never know when you’re going to lose somebody.
Trish: I agree with you 100% on both issues. One, that cultural fit is probably right up in the top two things that people need to figure out, and secondly, that you need to always be hiring. It’s hard. It’s a huge investment in time. People need to get creative on where they find people nowadays. It doesn’t just have to be all recruiters and online methodologies. Get yourself out there and find good talent. Put yourself ahead of the curve, because you’re never going to make your goal if you’re down a couple of salespeople.
Methodology Trumps Technology
Devon Warwick: Next up, let's talk about the lack of supporting infrastructure, and this seems to be a big one.
Trish: Infrastructure means different things to different people, but technology is becoming an ever bigger part of how inside sales become more productive. The bright, shiny toys are so fun to play with, but are they really adding value? You really have to think about what am I giving my people to do their job? Are they using it? Are they using it well? Is it meeting our requirements? What else do they need?
You need to think beyond technology. Am I giving them what they need from a support perspective, pre-sales and post sales? If you have a hunter, the worst thing that can happen is he’s taking care of your customers. You really need to think through all the components of that supporting infrastructure from technology to resources and make sure you’re providing your people with what they need.
Brian: When you’re looking to build an inside sales organization, it all starts with your sales process. What are the milestones that work you through the process? Figure that out. The next thing is, what is that methodology? So if you had a transparency and laid it over – I don’t know if I’m dating myself – but a transparency to lay it over the process, what are the actions? What are the things necessary to move it from stage to stage? That’s what I refer to as methodology. Then what are the resources that are needed to support that?
Then, what is the technology or those shiny toys that can do to support it? I think some organizations fail when they start with the shiny toy and they start building everything around it. All of a sudden, you start looking into your automation tool, and you’ve got data of irrelevance that takes time to enter, time to gather, and it never maps back to the process.
So what do you think? Can you share some of the pitfalls to hiring that you have identified? And, better yet, can you share how you avoided them? Thanks so much for being part of our community!