What do you do when too many of your sales hires are low performers?

We all know that it is not that uncommon for us in the start-up fraternity to hit a wall with our sales performance from time to time. Even the best performers go through a rough patch. When everything goes well – we say, “We have a set process in place” and when things go wrong, the same people that were your stars come under the radar.

Having said that, I’ve always been very conservative in hiring sales people in bunches.

Here’s why:

On one side, you have sales folks who have spent time on your product/service and have a good grasp of the space that your business is in, they have built a pipeline and have their way forward cut out.

The other side of the story with respect to new hires in sales is:

  • Can I afford to hire sales professionals in large numbers?
  • How soon can they get up to speed?
  • Most importantly, will their excellent start-studded performance at their previous organization translate into success in the space that we are competing?

In fact, the recent McKinsey Analysis (image below) supports the skepticism:

How do I hire the exact resource I want? Can I get a sneak peek into how they’ll fit into to our scheme of things?

My personal experiment

With some personal experience, I can say that there is light at the end of the tunnel, if we can make use of AI and machine learning algorithms. For example, imagine you have a big database of resumes that you have collected based on keyword pick or skill match; an artificial intelligence engine for sales performance like Fiind can give you signals of similarity for the resumes that match the characteristics of the best performing sales folks within your organization.

What this meant in my case is, the shortlisting of the best-fit resumes got easier, I could also get an insight into their intent whether they might be interested in a change of job or not. The rest happened over a cup of coffee with the candidates shortlisted.

But, is there a better way?

There got be better ways of using AI, isn’t it? We all learn best from our customers. One of our customers in the Silicon Valley used Fiind to level the ground for sales people within their company. He used our engine specifically to ensure that the new sales recruits get up to speed very quickly.

So, he went to the core of the problem –

He identified that the difference between the best and other sales folks was how well they understood their customers and how tuned their sales pitch was. So he used the tool to make sure that every sales person got a clear and decisive signal of what their customers were up to. In fact, he made sure that his team could hyper segment their customer list based on their immediate propensity to buy.

The icing on the cake was the fact that he made sure this levelling the ground using AI sensors, also resulted in a hyper-personalized 1:1 resonating pitch than a generic email blast or a generic script.

I think this was a brilliant case of overcoming the hurdle of time and experience in a short span and jumping into the context right away.

Do you agree? Any experiment that you would like to share?

About the Author

Yaagneshwaran is among the top 100 global martech influencers, an author, columnist and also the Director of Marketing at Fiind Inc. He has a certificate in Strategy Management from the Indian Institute of Management, Kozhikode and an MBA in marketing from Jansons School of Business, Coimbatore.