Evaluating Salespeople Faster

Several members of our firm just came back from a Microsoft Dynamics NAV reseller conference (Directions) held in Orlando, FL, where you can sometimes pick up useful information in spite of your best efforts.  One common theme in many discussions between business owners was around the difficulty in evaluating the effectiveness of new salespeople before they drive your business into bankruptcy.  It is not really the fault of the salespeople.  The owners really need to get better at this.  Often you find a business founded by a technical person who is now trying to hire a new salesperson, who is using all of his or her selling skills to land a new position.  This is quite difficult to do as I can attest from personal experience.  Personality profiles are useful but you need to make sure the person has actually met sales quotas in the past and can close a complex business sale.  The best way is to find a reference of your own for the person.  One of the most valuable lessons I have ever learned in life came from a presentation by a sales management consultant who had worked at a place where they struggled with this issue.  After extensive analysis, they realized that all of their successful salespeople had achieved a specified sales level after two months of employment.  That became their new benchmark and while it didn’t necessarily help with the hiring process, it meant they didn’t spend many months wondering whether they had made the right hire.