Should you hire an energetic and enthusiastic inside sales rep who has little or no experience, or go with a more experienced and distinguished salesperson instead?
This is a question many business owners and sales managers must ask themselves, and it is a question that has only become more complicated (not to mention loaded) in today’s fast-paced and technologically-centered market. There are a lot of things to think about when choosing an inside sales rep, so let’s begin by looking at the most significant traits of both less experienced and more experienced sales representatives.
Factors to consider when hiring inside sales candidates
Experience - Lack of experience is often considered beneficial for inside sales positions. Managers can mold and train reps using their own methodology and sales tactics. Experienced sales representatives benefit from their knowledge and contacts yet often have very set ways of working that may or may not work within the corporate process or culture. Experienced reps. will understand the B2B sales process better and having gone through many economic cycles understand that patience is a a positive trait in the sales role.
Industry Knowledge – Knowledge of one’s industry has become much more of a mixed bag than it used to be. In the past, simply spending a long time in a particular industry was often a significant part of gaining industry knowledge. However, in many B2B fields (particularly any technology or technology-related field) the industry itself is often in rapid flux, or is a brand new industry altogether, which can put less experienced sales reps at an advantage; particularly when it is a technology they have grown up with (e.g. social media platforms).
Ability to Change – This trait is valuable no matter what level of experience your sales reps. have. Having the ability to adapt to all sorts of situations will enhance the sales reps ability to succeed in their position. Like weather in New England, if you don't like it, just wait a minute.
Energy, drive and motivation – While there are countless exceptions, there is no denying that more energetic sales representatives will tend to be more driven to prove themselves than their less energetic counterparts. New sales reps are often driven by earning potential and the rewards that come along with that success. More experienced reps are often driven by different issues such as the need to pay for housing, education, or health care. Sometimes, more experienced sales reps may feel that they have already proven themselves, and consider themselves at the peak of their selling ability. Newer sales reps, by contrast, are largely “unproven”, and likely have career aspirations above their current position. This will drive many of them to excel far beyond the expectations of their superiors, so they can “climb the ladder” and achieve as much as possible in their lives.
Newer sales representatives often have an abundance of confidence, which may lead to arrogance or overconfidence if left unchecked. Ultimately, this might cause them to act in ways that are not in the interests of the company or their own sales goals.
Staying current can be a challenge
More senior sales representatives can often struggle with staying current on emerging trends and technologies in their field. This can reduce their ability to provide useful and persuasive information to prospects. It is also often assumed (fairly or not) that more experienced sales representatives do not understand cutting-edge technology. While this may be true, it may or may not be a factor in being a successful inside sales representative depending on their skills and previous experience.
The bottom line
When hiring new sales representative, keep an open mind and try to avoid making assumptions based on stereotypes. Instead, pay attention to how the candidate communicates and succeeds at building a rapport with you and other co-workers. Look beyond the "resume features" and pay attention to personality and poise. Do they project a positive attitude, have a sense of humor, and their ability to relate with other people. B2B sales is all about developing relationships and trust.