Hiring Sales People: Big Money or Moneyball?


Marketing, Lead Generation, Minneapolis, St Paul, MN, Minnesota, AtlantaEvery VP of Sales and Sales Manager will tell you that the most important thing they can do to achieve forecast is to “hire right.”   The question is why so many struggle with this process?

One way to address the problem is to ask the question, “What is your sales development strategy?”  A sales development strategy focuses on how you recruit, develop, and motivate sales people in your particular sales structure.

There are lots of sales development strategies, but let me contrast two options that I call Big Money and Moneyball, after the recent baseball film.

In the movie Moneyball, the 2002 Oakland Athletics sell three big salary/big hitter players; Giambi, Mulder, and Zito.  As a result they face a competitive issue for the next season.  They also don’t have the Yankee’s $125M budget, but only $41M to attract star players.  As a result, their Manager, Billie Beane changes strategy due to limited resources.  He develops a strategy that rejects wisdom and gut feel in selecting players, and replaces it with a statistical approach that looks at a player’s stats such as RBIs, hits against left handers, and batting averages.  He looks for bargain players with the right stats.  In 2003, the next year, they break the league record in consecutive game wins and just lose the World Series.

Hiring sales people looks like a similar challenge.  Do you go for the Big Money players with experience, or do you play Moneyball with less known talent and develop them?

It depends on what you are trying to accomplish, budget, how much time you have, and whether you can coach and develop your players.  If your time and development are limited, you can go out and try to hire the big guns, and this may work.  If you choose the Moneyball approach you need several things.

The first is a farm team.  By this I mean a sales structure that you can use to recruit promising young talent and train them on your sales process.  So for example, you might hire people into market development, watch how they do and bring the successful people up into account management or mid-market sales.  Then take those that are successful and bring them up into national or key account sales.

For my money, I would rather attract young sales players and develop them than go for the big money players.

Both approaches have pros and cons.  Regardless, there are a series of steps you have to go through to hire sales people, and these will become subjects for upcoming posts.

The job of VP, Director and Manager of Sales is one of the most difficult in business.  But if hiring right is the most important thing you can do, then you need to think about the following things.

Elements of Hiring:
•    Determining what type of sales person you want and your sales structure
•    Writing a job description for each position
•    Determining if you will go with a paid recruiter or a head hunter
•    Driving the recruiter to do their job
•    Developing your own scouting system
•    Having a framework for interviewing
•    Getting simultaneous candidates
•    Making a decision
•    Constructing and selling your offer
•    Establishing comp
•    Negotiating an offer
•    Creating an on-boarding process
•    Doing a 90 day review to determine if you’ve made the correct decision
•    Putting in place a longer term development system

All these things need to happen before you sell anything.  No one gives you credit for these things, because we are so focused on “the number.”  But great sales leaders excel at these less glamorous skills.

Do Great Things!
Lee Stocking
Prairie Sky Group
Making Sales Cry With Qualified Leads
651-357-0110 (Cell 24×7)

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