Since an organization’s sales professionals are responsible for developing and nurturing the critical relationship that defines customer experience, the best sales people do more than drive revenue; essentially, they build the brand. Achieving success in a volatile economy clearly demands the very best sales talent available. Can hiring outside consultants give companies a competitive edge in identifying the peak performers required to successfully navigate today’s stormy economic seas?
“Absolutely,” says Jeremy Miller, Partner at LEAPJob, a Toronto-based sales and marketing recruitment firm with a 20 year history of recruiting sales leaders. Miller believes progressive companies looking to attract the best definitely need outside consultation to develop a stellar sales team. “Companies that prosper in a softening economy do so because of high-performance sales forces … which start with top-quality sales people,” Miller offers. “Outside consultants can help a company efficiently identify and lure these sales professionals since they can cherry-pick the very best from among literally thousands of applicants.”
Andrew Ford, Partner at CoPilot Inc.,provides consultation for companies seeking to optimize sales operations in support of new business growth. He also strongly endorses looking outside the company’s management team when seeking to identify top talent. “Typically sales managers don’t see enough candidates to develop the expertise to assess what makes a great sales professional.” notes Ford. “Consultants utilize a range of assessments to truly evaluate a candidate. For example, we design scenario based evaluations where we use engineered role-playing, based on a client’s actual product requirements, to appraise the candidate under the approximate conditions they will encounter.”
Companies promoting from within, aiming to reduce turnover or grow sales with the existing team can also benefit from working with outside consultants. Mike Gravelle, Managing Director of The McQuaig Institute, which offers web-based tools that enable companies to assess, select, and retain the best people, explains, “Behavioral assessments, whether for employment testing, job analysis, or self development, measure things that indicate an individual’s temperament which greatly improves the ability to predict on-the-job performance,” These tools offer an employer another valuable mechanism to thoroughly evaluate if a candidate possesses the particular traits a position demands.
From an organization’s perspective, the most positive experiences result when the association with the consultant is such that they are privy to any of the intangibles of the organizational culture that could affect the success of any hires. Ford suggests, “External consultants should be regarded as a trusted resource and a valued extension of the internal team. Organizations should look for a partner with whom they can forge a long-term relationship.”
Deciding whether to use outside consultation to develop a sales team is really about identifying what tactics are necessary and which strategies will prove most effective for a company within the context of its overall goals. “Outside consultants effectively create more certainty in the hiring and development process,” says Gravelle.
Miller concurs, citing an example of when LEAPJob and CoPilot collaborated to assist a mutual client who was endeavouring to hire two new sales professionals onto their sales team. At the front end, CoPilot’s diagnostics resulted in the creation of a definitive job description that clearly articulated the customer experience. LEAPJob then presented candidates based on the five levers outlined within it. Once candidates were hired, CoPilot implemented an on-boarding strategy to guarantee appropriate training. Ultimately, both sales professionals proved to be very productive additions. At the end of the day or the close of the quarter – every department across an organization has a stake in the success of the sales effort. Bottom line – companies committed to continued success should explore every angle that will enhance their efforts to develop the absolute best sales teams.
This article was originally published in CPSA’s Contact Magazine.
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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are strictly those of the author. CPSA does not endorse any of the companies, products and services mentioned within this article.