When it comes to their B2B sales team, a lot of organizations will just hire anyone with a pulse. If they hit their numbers, great. If not, just fire them and move onto the next hire. No problem, right?
Actually, it’s a big problem. Often you end up hiring someone you liked, but then find it difficult to coach them or train them. Alternatively, you hire someone you thought was a good fit, but three months later you realize they weren’t and have cost the organization a lot of money in lost revenue.
After 15 years in B2B sales, my priority is to build a united team. I particularly like the Greek term ‘Homothumadon,’ the principle of everyone being of one mind, moving in the same direction. It only takes one person running in the opposite direction to slow down an entire team, but a united team is unstoppable.
To achieve this, my approach when hiring is to look for three core qualities in any potential recruits, to see if they’re the right fit for our organization. I’ve come to refer to these as the three H’s.
Are they Hungry?
The hungry salesperson is something of a stereotype. They want to sell more than anyone else in the history of the company and earn a million dollars in their first year. My definition of hunger goes deeper. I’m looking for someone who’s hungry to improve. Every morning they ask themselves ‘How can I strive for more? How can I continue bettering myself within the organization? How can I avoid losing momentum?’
Steli Efti, CEO of Close.io agrees, encouraging founders to look for people with the ‘emotional and mental blueprint of a great startup hustler.’
It’s not always an easy quality to see. When you have an SDR making 50-100 calls a day, how can you tell if they’re truly hungry or just going through the motions?
You have to look beyond their actions and see their attitude. Do they show a desire to learn? Do they want to more effective? Are they striving for continual improvement?
If you’re able to provide a platform which feeds their hunger, which enables that improvement, they’ll reward you many times over with high performance and loyalty.
Are They Highly Intelligent?
When hiring, you want to avoid the ‘yes’ men; you ask them to make 100 calls and they say yes, no problem. But when you ask how they can make it more efficient, or what’s the best software they’ve used to route their leads, or how they prefer to identify their lead quality? They have no idea.
If someone’s applying to be an SDR, I expect them to have an understanding of the available tools. They should be able to elaborate on what it means to be an SDR, to have their own interpretation of the role. They might have their impressive degrees or fancy CV, but they just got them to the interview. They’re not enough to get the job.
A lot of people feel you just need the bare minimum when hiring an SDR, but they’re not thinking long term. One day this SDR could be your next lead SDR, or an account executive, or a client success manager. From the start, you should be asking if they have the ability to grow. They don’t need to have a master’s degree or an MBA, but I have to see an ability to learn.
I’m not here to be a manager; software can manage people. I coach people and help them grow those core competencies into something more. They might be a 3/10 or 4/ 10 when they start, but my job as a head of sales is to coach them to be an 8/10 and 9/10.
Are They Humble?
The biggest part of being humble is leaving the ego at the door and being open to feedback.
Feedback is one of those things that no matter how nicely you say it, you will offend someone. However, I’m looking for someone who is grateful for feedback. Again, this definitely doesn’t mean hiring ‘yes’ men. Confidence gets mixed up with cockiness a lot, but they’re completely different. Cockiness gets people in trouble, but confidence means this person is eager and wants to make an effort. They may fail, but they’ll get right back up.
More importantly, humility is the only thing that will keep someone growing and learning. When they get to the point they think they know everything, they can’t grow. If they can’t grow, they can’t help our organization grow. If an organization stops growing, it dies.
It may take more work upfront, but hiring the right sales team is a worthwhile investment. When you employ people who are hungry to improve, smart enough to learn and humble enough to take on feedback, you’ll have a world-class sales team on your hands.