If you’re comfortable hiring an average player, stop reading. If you recognize the positive impact of hiring a top tier contributor, read on. Average hiring won’t improve team productivity or boost credibility and trust from sales leadership. Your productivity and credibility are directly related to the quality of your team.
On average, within 18 months a new hire will no longer be with you. The reasons are varied. The individual may lack key competencies or doesn’t fit your culture. To get the Sales Ops Leader Hiring Guide, click here.
As you move into next year, it’s time to upgrade your team. Today’s Sales Ops leaders are looking for unique individuals. Key competencies that ideal sales operations candidates possess include:
- Technical expertise – data mining, analytics, tools design. These competencies enable more efficient and effective support for sales.
- Sales aptitude – persuasion, resourcefulness, communication and problem-solving. This will help build team credibility with sales and improve support of your initiatives.
- Business Acumen – intelligence, adaptability, insight generation. What your customers care about is essential to supporting sales. Buyer-centric approaches will directly support revenue acquisition. Know how your buyers buy to keep your team aligned.
- Executive Presence – presentation skills, dealing with ambiguity, courage. Your team has to be able to effectively interact at all levels. Having these capabilities extends your ability to drive needed change.
Gone are the days when all you need are number crunchers. Data has to be put in context and bring insights to leadership. Your team also needs to have a clear understanding of selling. Sales Ops needs to be “outside-in”. Your customer is sales and you need to know what they routinely go through. Sales Ops professionals with sales experience carry more credibility.
Can your team members read a customer’s annual report and extract insight? What about their ability to present and persuade an audience?
But here’s the real issue – how do you go about screening, evaluating and selecting for these competencies? There are 4 steps to do this right.
Step 1 – Build a Role Scorecard
What’s required of this individual to be successful? Be as specific as you can. Just saying “produce sales reports” doesn’t help. Ensure that expectations are clear, measurable and drive the right behavior. Specify that presenting key findings to sales leadership on a regular basis is required. What tangible benefit will the role bring? What are the specific competencies needed to succeed?
Include sample reports and the types of insights to be derived as examples. By building this scorecard, you can screen candidates with the end result in mind. Additionally, if personnel leave, having this detail makes transition much easier.
Step 2 – Conduct Competency-Based Interviews
Interviews that ask questions like “Where do you want to be in 5 years?” are a waste. Asking candidates what they would do in specific scenarios help you understand their thought process. Getting specific examples of when they’ve exhibited resourcefulness gives you tangible input. Capturing a specific approach they took delivering insight with data provides real results in context.
Step 3 – Reference Checks
This is not a “check-box” exercise. This interview is used to weed out those touting glowing accomplishments that are really “vapor-ware”. During the initial screening, tell candidates you’ll be connecting directly with past bosses. If the candidate can’t connect you with prior supervisors, put up the warning lights. Would the boss re-hire them? Now you have the ability to validate the candidates self-view.
When connecting with the reference, ask questions without obvious answers. Don’t tell the supervisor the role – ask them what the candidate is best suited for. Ask them why they left the company. Ask them to describe specific areas of deficiency and strength.
Step 4 – Job Tryouts
Have the candidate show they have the capabilities needed. A word of caution here – Some candidates may seek outside help. Specify that the work needs to be done without assistance. Have the candidate confirm this clear understanding. Tell them their continued candidacy depends on complying with this stipulation.
This step gives you a demonstration of their capabilities in tasks you’ve designed. Put the candidate into the crucible. Enable them to ask questions for clarity. Insert some ambiguity to force them to make assumptions. Compare the work product across the 2-3 candidates that made it to this point. This step will weed out those that talk a good game but won’t deliver.
Your success as a leader depends most heavily on the quality of your team. Fill your team with average players and get average results. Take a rigorous approach to hiring superstars and results will follow. Get your Sales Op Leader Hiring Guide here.