In sales, an ideal “prospect persona” is a representation of the best possible decision maker you could sell to. If you could only talk to one prospect, who would that be, and why?
You should be approaching sales recruiting in a similar way, by creating your ideal “candidate persona.” Most sales employers, sales leaders and talent teams don’t take the time to establish their ideal candidate persona upfront; this negatively impacts both the hiring team and the candidate. This is why, at TitanHouse, we walk our clients through the process of identifying the kind of candidates they are looking for.
How do you establish a great candidate persona? First, look at your current team. What are the characteristics and experiences that are common among your top performing team members? Do they have similar industry experiences, similar product experiences, or similar client-level experiences (C-suite versus user level)? Are there more junior sales reps or more established sales reps? Do your current reps have more new business experience or more business renewal experience?
Keep in mind that your ideal candidate persona may actually not fit these same boxes. If you are looking for a balanced team, your ideal candidate may be the person who has experience in the areas very few of your current team members do. However, if your business requires more candidates of a certain type of experience, you may end up filling your team with people of similar backgrounds.
Second, look at the top producers from competitive businesses. There’s always that rep you would love to steal away from your biggest competitor. Who would you love to have on your team? What are their common characteristics?
Once you have identified the characteristics that make up your ideal candidate, then you should determine the value, or weight, of each characteristic. Are some data points ‘must have’ or just ‘nice to have’? Assign a value to each characteristic on your list, and keep this list available when you are interviewing and hiring candidates. Make sure your initial talent assessor is weighing these characteristics upfront, so that reps who do not match are removed from consideration early in the process. The list will be a useful tool to help you compare a new team member’s success to how closely they fit the items on your list.
It’s typical for the characteristics and their weights to change as your business matures and changes. Set a regular time (quarterly, semi-annually or annually) to re-evaluate your ideal candidate persona. It’s also important to remember that the persona will change from position to position, so you will likely have multiple lists.
We have seen phenomenal results from employers who follow this practice; they are finding great candidate fits faster and more efficiently, and they’re building superior sales teams. Investing in this process early on will save your team time, and money, in the long run.
Want to learn how you can bring more ideal candidates into your pool? Check out the 10 Ways to Attract Top Sales Talent.