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Hiring SMART Sales Talent in the New Normal

The disruption led by COVID-19 has compelled nearly every facet of society and the economy to reset the baseline of existential conduct. The way individuals work, think, make decisions, and transact has transformed overnight, creating an all-new world that complies with the strict social distancing norm.

As for businesses, the natural implication has been to pivot and adapt to survive or grow. Specifically, for the IT industry, the entire modus operandi has received quite a jolt with most of the earlier strategies and tactics concerning generating revenue and fueling growth embracing overnight obsolescence.

The sharp change, which has rendered run of the mill activities such as relationship meetings, wine and dine events irrelevant, necessitates an urgent intervention in terms of preparing the IT sales teams to adapt and respond best. This requires upgrading the skill set of the existing talent and also hiring new S.M.A.R.T sales team members, who can bring on expertise better suited to tackle the current scenario.

S.M.A.R.T Sales Talent – Need Of The Hour

Historical fundamentals to hire IT sales stars included evaluating factors such as a large social network, sharp in-person social skills, and ‘relevant experience with an associated successful track record.

However, this earlier prescription may not work as much or at all anymore. Instead, the true need of the hour is to hire S.M.A.R.T sales talent, best described as Strategic Minds that Amplify Results Timely.

As per a study titled ‘Lead Your Team Into a Post-Pandemic World’, published recently in the Harvard Business Review, the current scenario demands hiring enterprising individuals with a great analytical mind to address the new set of challenges coming up every day. What is also important to look for in talent is an empathetic mindset, sharp digital communication skills, and an active style of management that can help to keep the virtually connected stakeholders engaged.

While the above fundamentals form a generic persona, each specific business of course needs to additionally identify and evaluate the key barriers to their success, and come up with a suitable definition of their own ideal candidate who can help to successfully fight those obstacles

Adapt To The New Normal – Some Practices To Align Into The Hiring Framework

In order to skillfully adapt to the new normal, the roadmap must involve building the right internal expertise by onboarding fresh and well-suited talent, while keeping the costs of hiring and turnover rates in check.

In that light, here are some practices to rethink and evolve towards nurturing SMART talent.

Adapt and evolve the mindset

The foremost practice to embark on must be to work towards rewiring the existing mental model as sales leaders and gearing up to evaluate potential candidates under a renewed lens.

Since the need of the hour revolves mostly around implementing sales strategies via digital, ‘socially distanced’ channels, looking at individuals savvy with social platforms, online selling techniques along with having a higher degree of technical efficiency is a good way to start the thinking.

As a long-term thinker, one must ideally lookout for those candidates that display dynamism, willingness to learn and adapt as against those who seem like the ‘know it alls’ in tech sales, as this time is rather about adapting and evolving than following old staple templates.

Outline a clear, re-defined recruitment procedure

With the consequential irrelevance of the earlier recruitment procedures, it’s imperative to also come up with redefined ways of hiring sales team members.

As result-oriented sales leaders, this implies working out the fundamentals for the right candidate targeting, messaging, sourcing, and interviewing along with the HR team.

When on the other side of the table, it is important to be as clear as possible with the understanding and definition of the ‘currently’ ideal candidate and work towards describing that person in as much detail as possible, as against a job description put up by aggregating various past samples. Moreover, it is also essential to work towards building up the right kind of assessment procedures and evaluating criteria that can help to clearly identify such talent from the crowd that applies for positions.

Some examples for the above would include looking at the size and quality of a candidate’s social network, evaluating the quality of their existing digital footprint, or coming up with situational questions that can help understand the candidate’s approach to problem-solving in the present world scenario.

Start looking beyond traditional hiring grounds

As against looking at the same old places to source good candidates, now is a good time to leverage those hiring destinations that were possibly ignored earlier.

In light of the current sales needs, sharing job announcements on social media and looking out for individuals who maintain an active footprint on relevant social channels and groups can be a good starting point.

Specifically, networks such as LinkedIn and Twitter can be a real gold mine for B2B technology companies to run searches and identify digitally savvy technology salespeople with the right kind of expertise who may not be actively looking for jobs.

Design a new sales playbook to guide new hires

Finally, concluding the hiring process with proper onboarding is also important in terms of ensuring the right kind of productivity and retention.

While the HR teams do work to calibrate the general aspects of onboarding, as a sales leader it is equally important to develop and share a playbook that hands out basic training on what’s expected in the renewed technology sales realm. After all, whether it is details on the technical knowhow, or lessons in following a consultative approach – the new person must be coached well to perform as per the need.

A constructive approach would also involve including real case examples of how different sales leaders have been closing deals and keeping the momentum going in this new normal.

 

Conclusion

While the pandemic has been disrupting the typical conduct of business and economics globally, the natural response of enterprising organizations globally has been to pivot their modus operandi to adapt.

Adapting well on the part of technology firms essentially revolves around recalibrating the business model, upgrading the in-house talent and the way they together operate as a team.

Frankly speaking, sales teams form a core component of the revenue-generating competency of technology organizations, and S.M.A.R.T team members can make all the difference in this changed market scenario.

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