Assessing Talent for Inside Sales
Many sales leaders have told us they are expanding their inside sales channel strategy to take advantage of shifts in buyer behaviour. In doing so, they also need to take advantage of their sales talent, both in hiring and in developing the skills of current employees.
The hiring process itself should provide ample opportunities for candidates to demonstrate how they would sell to customers. While this holds true for any sales position, it is even more important for inside sales, where sellers never meet customers face to face. There are three relatively simple ways to test a candidate’s skills in action: video, role play and voicemail.
Assessing Inside Sales Talent
Skype and other video chat services allow sales leaders to see how candidates would interact with prospects and customers. Sellers can no longer shy away from video; it has become an accepted, and even expected, communication channel. Everyone in sales should get themselves comfortable with video chats. There are a few tactical issues with a video call versus a phone call – such as removing distracting backgrounds, paying attention to posture and making eye contact – but video can be the next best thing to meeting in person. You can also use a Skype call to role play with a candidate. They should be able to handle the pressure and give you a sense of how articulate, composed and compelling they are.
Cold calling is always an asset for those in inside sales, and sales leaders should require candidates to leave them a cold-call voicemail. From this, they can assess how well candidates engage prospects – gaining insights from tone as well as message.
One question I would advise asking candidates for inside sales positions is about their career aspirations. Specifically, inquire as to their expectations for eventually moving into a field sales role. If the sales organisation has shifted its strategy to close off this career path, make that clear from the start. Candidates, then, should be those who want to work in inside sales and can thrive in an environment of talking on the phone all day, every day. This can be an exhausting job, so look for candidates who are resilient and have high energy. They have to be able to move forward and bounce back after hearing “No” over and over.
When growing an inside sales team, it is possible that an experienced field sales rep may be interested in taking an inside position under the right circumstances. Maybe they are tired of travelling or have other reasons for seeking a change. While this kind of transfer was more unusual in the past, I would not discount it – or the person – if they were sincerely interested and there was a good fit.
Just as technology is changing the sales environment, it can also help sales leaders find the right people for the right roles. Pre-hiring assessments can be invaluable in teasing out the competencies and differences in candidates. At Richardson Sales Performance, we use an online tool called TalentGauge™, a predictive assessment and sales force readiness tool that works both in the recruitment process and in assessing the talents of the current sales force.
In changing their channel strategies to expand inside sales, sales leaders have clear expectations for improvements in productivity, outcomes and success. The proper attention to training and development, both with new hires and current sales reps, can lead to more meaningful customer dialogues, better engagement, cross-selling opportunities and more efficient and successful sales. The potential return is well worth the investment in talent.
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