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Recruiting for success in sales? Marcus Cauchi says it’s time to change your strategy

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You know you need to scale and fast, you also know that success comes down to the strength, attitude and engagement of your team. So where to start with recruiting those sales experts?

Managing Director of Business Matters, Richard Alvin spoke to sales guru Marcus Cauchi on the Business Matters podcast for more direction on this matter and sales in 2021 generally. We’ve summed up this section here for you, however the entire podcast is essential listening

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Marcus dives straight into the issue of recruiting for sales:

Quite a lot of sales processes actually fail by hiring the wrong salespeople. I’ve found that often, in the early days of business, founders, managing directors, or business owners, actually try to source a salesperson to be a clone of themselves when actually, that’s probably not what they need at all.

Hiring your own image, only weaker, is a recipe for disaster. I’ve recently, designed a recruitment process for one of my clients, it’s worked a storm, so I’m going to share with you what we did …

Rule number one: Make recruitment difficult

First of all we identified the skills we wanted these people to have by the time we were finished and we put a full interview process in place for graduates. We made the recruitment process difficult to make them fight for it – the more they couldn’t have it, the more they’d want it.

Rule number two: Create scenarios to test their adaptability and ‘coach-ability’

You want to see how your proposed team responds under pressure, what they could be like in team situations, whether they can take direction and very importantly: whether they could push back and challenge if they didn’t understand.

Rule number three: Design an interview process that has them doing a typical day of work 

For this particular client, we taught each interviewee how to create an agenda and an agreement about what would happen at the end of each step, we made sure that they learned how to plan for a call, and to debrief a call. We made sure they knew how to research a marketplace and look at the strategic implications, then how to analyse a competitor, how to map out an account that would become a prospect.

Through all of this process, we managed to filter out hundreds of applicants until we had two left at the end. We sent them a really difficult task with very short notice, one of them crumbled and took umbrage to the request in quite an entitled manner. The other one responded with incredible grace and did a fantastic job and we hired her.

Now, what was really interesting through that process was whenever she was under any pressure, she just responded with grace, humility and vulnerability. Now, that’s really interesting because when you see salespeople, the classic model is that they’re gung-ho full of confidence and all that kind of stuff. But you don’t want to buy from someone like that. People have to trust the person to buy from them and because this particular salesperson was authentic, all the way through that trust was there. Sales teams need to be fully present, caring, listening.

Rule number four: Ensure you look for the ability to listen in your recruitment process

Almost no recruitment process looks for the ability to listen. I can honestly say that I have never listened my way out of a sale, whereas I’ve talked my way out of plenty! The problem is that people buy for their own reasons, they come to work for their own reasons and they sell for their own reasons. So one of the principal areas that we paid attention to when doing this recruitment drive was the individual candidates motivation. Why did they want this job? Why do they want to be in sales. What is it, they’re looking for from their career, beyond the money, because the money, frankly, is a really poor motivator. No one or very few people are motivated just by money.

Money provides you with choices. It allows you to provide security and allows you to have experiences. And so what you need to do is get to the human being under the surface, under the facade of what they were presenting at the early stages of the interview. Because they are going to be representing us in front of customers for the next five years. You should recruit for what you cannot train – you need to recruit for attitudes, values, beliefs, which form the hub of motivation and essentially, you need to recruit for their ability to bounce back and learn. And I would rather find someone of a medium competence and a high trust, because then they will do great work within the team. Customers will be willing to open up to them.

Don’t make this catastrophic error that many companies make:

Don’t assume that when the recruitment drive is over and they’ve signed and you’ve signed that the process is over. Once you’ve been through the recruitment process you need to have a good pre-onboarding process. So during that notice period you set them up to succeed and achieve a fast-start you introduce them to lots of people within the team so that they’re already familiar. Next,  you have a good onboarding process and that first 120 days is key because in the first 120 days they’re deciding, is this the job I was sold, do I like my boss? Do I like the company? Do I like the people or was I better off where I was? Would I be better off somewhere else. So, hire the best people then get the best out of them. Make sure they feel at home. On the flip side, this also means that you can hold them to account with consequences if their performance is lower than expected.

To end this particular section, if you’re a recruiter or a manager, just remember this:

People in sales, think that their job is to sell. Actually it’s not. Their job is to find people who need help, and help them decide to buy. And that’s a critical difference. Take the advice above and hire for all of these reasons.


Cherry Martin

Cherry Martin

Cherry is Associate Editor of Business Matters with responsibility for planning and writing future features, interviews and more in-depth pieces for what is now the UK’s largest print and online source of current business news.

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