Searching for the Sale – by guest writer Derrick MoeJanuary 11, 2007
Derrick Moe is a Managing Partner of Select Metrix, a process-based hiring firm located in Minneapolis, MN that specializes in sales selection services using an array of approach & assessment techniques to find the strongest salesperson.
There is a part of sales that is now extinct and it is this – the cold call to an executive that contains this question, “What is it your company does?” That question spells doom for the salesperson. Executives today expect salespeople to have an understanding of their business, their market and, at times, even their company-specific challenges.
They expect the salesperson to be well-informed.In case you question how important this ability is, let me relay a lunch conversation from a sales manager friend in the software industry. He has an underperforming salesperson whom he was attempting to coach. My sales manager read an online article that indicated a dormant company in their database should be recategorized as an active prospect. He asked the underperforming salesperson to reconnect with the company.The salesperson found out that the contact listed in their database was no longer with the company. He was dead. The salesperson attempted to find the successor through multiple dead-end phone calls (no pun intended) to no avail. My frustrated sales manager used the most powerful, but little-used research tool he has – his library card. Within 10 minutes on the library’s website, he had the name of the successor. Needless to say, he was agitated with his inefficient, information-illiterate salesperson.The back story here is that this salesperson was hired by the owner of the company without assessing his abilities. Had the owner taken the proper steps, he could have determined this salesperson’s information abilities before hiring him for his software company.In our sales selection business, we are asked to source and assess sales candidates for our clients. One critical facet of our sourcing activities is to ascertain the candidate’s ability to locate and use information.Here are 3 techniques we use in determining a candidate’s information-gathering ability:
- In terms of company background, provide them little more than a sentence or two and your website in the ad. See what they do with that information as a starting point. Do they attempt to determine your value proposition? Do they understand your product/service offerings? Did they even look at your website? I’m not kidding-some will ignore it.
- Pay close attention to their market-related questions when interviewing them. Did they research the market and the competition? If so, how thoroughly? It’s one thing to have data; it’s another thing to know how to interpret it.
- Question them about their process for finding and qualifying a lead. They should mention specific websites and resources they use to gather actionable intelligence on the prospect company. An information-literate salesperson will have favorite sites, subscriptions and/or search engines they use to gather important data.
The key here is to hire salespeople with the ability to use the web effectively in their sales process. In today’s world, this ability is a prerequisite for efficient prospecting. Once the salesperson is onboard, it is imperative that you provide him or her with the tools needed to properly research prospects and customers. As the world becomes more wired, information literacy will become an absolute requirement for any successful sales hire in any industry.