Some lovely insight this morning from Wendy Harris (Dropbox), Jane Oremosu (Thomson Reuters) and Toni Redman (Adobe) and a wonderfully refreshing panel at the Saleshacker Conference. 

It is the first all-female panel I have attended in the last year and it's great to learn from three incredibly successful saleswomen who are not only a great example for any up & coming salesperson but a fanstastic role model for any young women who would like to break into sales, which is traditionally an overly male-dominated profession. 

These 3 experts dealt with hiring, onboarding and training, & retention for their respective sales teams.

#1. Hiring

What are the key qualities in any salesperson? Resilience, awareness, tenacity

Some key questions to ask an experienced rep:

  • What % of target did you hit over the last four quarters?
  • What % of pipeline is their own vs. generated by a BDR?
  • What % of business is inbound vs. outbound?
  • What kind of manager brings out the best in you?
  • What techniques do you use to haul yourself over the line if you're behind target 2 months into a quarter?

However, for Toni Redman, it's about hiring graduates who show passion and tenacity. Individuals who will fit into the culture with a demonstrable skill set. How do you look for/hire culture? 

  • Competency based questions - what would you do in situation X? How would you feel if Y happened?
  • If they "slag off" their previous company, it's a big "red flag" for Wendy. 
  • Diversity in the hiring process is key, both in terms of the experience that an individual can bring, their habits (good and bad) and, of course, gender/race/backgrounds. This diversity will make your organisation successful through avoiding 'groupthink', bringing in fresh ideas and attracting a broad range of talent.

#2. Onboarding

Now that you have the key people, how do you get the best out of them?

  • Have a repatable, tried and trusted process 
  • "Buddy-up" the new starters with soemone who is already experienced / learn from their calls.
  • Have some sort of assessment / accreditation for them to work towards in the first month so they can actually see their own progress.
  • Give them weekly, monthly objectives so they have things to work towards - no matter how big or small - so it helps builds some momentum in their integration.

#3. Retaining talent: How do you keep the best talent in a competitive market?

  • Culture, nice office, perks of the job and a pleasant environment are expected as a minimum. It's the intrinsic perks which today's job market demands.
  • Setting expectations is key, says Toni - you will have to show that there is profression/personal success to be had but it does not come overnight. 
  • Graduates really want a clear cut development plan to enable them to get where they want to go.
  • At Dropbox, they have a quarterly list which accords lots of public recognition and kudos.
  • At Thomson Reuters, it's the possibility of big progression which is the big prize. 
  • In short, the money matters but it's the recognition & internal hubris which are the big drivers. 

In short, hiring is the key starting block to growing your sales business and is a hurdle you will have jump to ensure long-term success.