A company is only as strong as the sales team it develops. That's especially true for the B2B industry. B2B sales involve more than just getting leads for people; It requires representatives to get leads for other businesses, which is an entirely different ball game. Depending on your product, there could be a limited capacity for outreach, as well as the issue of reputation among your peers.
Despite the pressure, some firms are better than others at pushing B2B sales. What is the secret to their success? It is possible to get a slight edge by using certain software or by paying a premium, but the best teams focus on the core of their operation: their people.
Below are some tips on how find the best B2B sales reps for your business.
School Isn’t Everything
According to a study by the Corporate Executive Board (now Gartner), in order to hire the best sales leads, you need to look into factors that may not be obvious on a résumé.
Among the first things most employers look for on a résumé is a person’s educational background. However, this is not always the best indicator of how well they’ll do in a B2B sales role.
Believe it or not, some candidates with college degrees aren’t always the best fit, as older generations tend to rely too heavily on their education to let them know what’s happening in the current industry. That’s not to say candidates with a degree are a bad choice. Someone who studied English, computer science, or even history can put those skills to good use as a sales rep.
When it comes to education, don’t focus on where people went to school. Look for candidates staying on top of current trends and best practices, as they’ll be the most informed about the business.
Creativity Is Everything
Anyone who’s done B2B sales can tell you about the feeling of “hitting a wall"—when your sales leads have gone dry, and you need to think fast about how to acquire more. The best sales reps can generate these leads with ease.
To find these stellar representatives, focus on those who can leverage their experiences beyond their field, and those who are excited about the results they produce (not just the time they spent doing them).
Some of the most successful people in B2B sales are both teachers and learners. That is, they can teach customers something new or challenging, and at the same time are coachable and open to feedback. They should also be highly motivated to achieve.
Strong B2B sales reps look at their job as a worthwhile activity, not as “grunt work.” They’re resilient to the word no, as they’re consistently putting in the work to achieve their goals. Finally, in order to drive these results, a salesperson must be passionate not just about sales, but about the company’s mission in general.
Passion is a Huge Factor
For a successful sales representative, passion for what they’re doing is a huge factor. It requires a certain amount of emotional intelligence in looking at how to bring potential leads into the company’s community. This effort usually involves a charismatic personality paired with a strong moral value system to ensure trust (both with your clients and your team).
While passion is important, it’s also imperative that sales reps are able to take these skills and apply a data-driven approach. After all, this arena requires decisions to be made at breakneck speed, and feeling confident about them requires a sound foundation. Finally, it’s important to be able to translate all of this into a well-thought-out, concise delivery.
If you’d like to test the wits and personality of your B2B sales candidates, one suggestion would be to conduct situational role playing in a phone or in-person interview. The folks over at Bridge Group have put together a few excellent examples.
Final Thoughts—Think Unconventionally
In order to break away from conventional results, you have to take an unconventional approach to hiring B2B sales reps. Don’t just look at their schooling. Look at everything they’ve experienced. Also look at their personality and how they fit with your company and team. And make sure they have the same passion for selling as you do, because a product or service is only as good as the person who’s selling it.