As businesses evolve in today’s competitive landscape, the need for a high-performing sales team is more crucial than ever. Traditional salespeople, with their polished resumes and extensive experience, have long been considered the “ideal” candidates for building a successful sales team. However, sales has changed.
In recent years, there has been a growing recognition that non-traditional salespeople can bring unique skills and perspectives that can help drive sales success. We delve into this trend and explore how to attract, assess, and build a high-performing sales team with non-traditional or non-traditional salespeople, challenging conventional hiring practices and offering a fresh approach to building a successful sales team.
Sales is about solving problems. The days of trying to “convince people to buy” are gone. Which is why it’s important to recognize that diversity in sales teams can be a strength, not a weakness. Individuals that aren’t typically considered salespeople can bring unique skills, perspectives, and ideas that can drive innovation, creativity, and ultimately, sales success.
Instead of solely focusing on previous sales experience, consider the potential of non-traditional salespeople and their transferable skills. Look beyond their resumes and consider their industry expertise, knowledge of products, individual strengths, motivation, and potential to succeed in a sales role.
The Hard Stats
Furthermore, a study by the Harvard Business Review found that sales teams with members from diverse backgrounds and perspectives tend to be more innovative and creative. This is because diversity brings a wider range of ideas, perspectives, and problem-solving approaches to the table, leading to better decision-making and problem-solving.
There is evidence to support the idea that non-traditional salespeople can contribute to the success of a high-performing sales team. According to a study conducted by McKinsey & Company, diverse teams are more likely to outperform homogeneous teams in terms of financial performance. Companies with diverse leadership teams are also more likely to have higher financial returns, as reported by Harvard Business Review.
In addition, a report by the Sales Management Association found that salespeople with diverse backgrounds and experiences tend to have better customer relationships, as they are able to connect with customers from different backgrounds and cultures more effectively. This can lead to increased sales and customer loyalty.
In today’s dynamic business environment, building a high-performing sales team requires a fresh and unconventional approach to hiring. By attracting and assessing non-traditional salespeople based on their transferable skills, cultural fit, and potential, and by providing comprehensive training, fostering collaboration and inclusion, recognizing and rewarding performance, and providing flexibility and support, businesses can build a high-performing sales team that thrives in today’s competitive landscape.
Attracting non-traditional Salespeople
The first step in building a high-performing sales team with non-traditional salespeople is to attract them to your organisation. Non-Traditional salespeople can come from diverse backgrounds, such as different industries, roles, or even cultural and ethnic backgrounds. To attract non-traditional salespeople, you need to think outside the box and look beyond the traditional job posting methods. Here are some ideas to consider:
- Tap into Different Networks: Traditional sales job boards may not always be the best place to find non-traditional salespeople. Consider tapping into different networks, such as industry-specific groups, diversity and inclusion organisations, or even social media platforms. For example, if you are looking for salespeople with expertise in the technology industry, you could explore online forums, LinkedIn groups, or technology-focused communities.
- Highlight Your Company’s Culture: Non-traditional salespeople are often attracted to companies with unique cultures and values that align with their own. Highlight your company’s culture and values in your job postings and marketing materials. Showcase what makes your organisation different and why non-traditional salespeople would want to be a part of your team.
- Use Storytelling: Storytelling can be a powerful tool to attract individuals who might be better suited as a salesperson. Share stories of your current sales team members who have been successful in your organisation but didn’t come from a traditional sales background. Highlight their achievements, career growth, and how their unique perspectives have contributed to the success of your sales team. This can help potential candidates see themselves in your organisation and feel motivated to join your team.
What To Look For
Finding professionals who demonstrate the potential to be great salespeople is only the first step, uncovering their soft-skills, attributes and potential requires a shift in mindset and hiring approach. Traditional hiring practices may not always be effective in assessing non-traditional salespeople, as their backgrounds and experiences may differ from traditional salespeople. Here are some strategies to consider when assessing non-traditional salespeople:
- Focus on Transferable Skills: The best people may not have a sales background, but they may possess transferable skills that are valuable in sales, such as excellent communication, negotiation, and relationship-building skills. During the assessment process, focus on identifying these transferable skills and how they can be applied in a sales role. Ask candidates about their past experiences and how they have used their skills to achieve success in different contexts.
- Assess for Adaptability and Resilience: non-traditional salespeople may have faced unique challenges and obstacles in their previous roles or industries. Assess their adaptability and resilience to change, as these qualities can be crucial in a sales role that requires dealing with rejection, uncertainty, and ambiguity. Ask candidates about how they have dealt with challenging situations in the past and what strategies they have used to overcome them.
- Test for Creativity and Innovation: Non-traditional salespeople can bring fresh perspectives and creative solutions to sales challenges. Test candidates for their creativity and innovation skills during the assessment process. Present them with hypothetical sales scenarios or challenges and ask them how they would approach them. Encourage them to think outside the box and come up with innovative ideas. This can give you insights into their ability to think critically, problem-solve, and come up with creative solutions, which can be valuable in a sales role.
- Consider Cultural Fit: More often than not, these people may come from diverse backgrounds, and their values and beliefs may differ from those of traditional salespeople. Consider the cultural fit of non-traditional salespeople with your organisation’s values and team dynamics. Look for candidates who can bring diversity of thought and perspective to your team, as this can foster creativity and innovation.
Bringing It All Together
Once you have identified and assessed the best candidates, the next step is to build a high-performing sales team with them. For individuals who don’t come from a traditional sales background, it is essential that you invest the time and energy in developing their skills and supporting them so that they can maximise their unique talents in a sales environment.
Here are some simple steps to consider:
- Provide Comprehensive Training: Non-traditional salespeople may require additional training and support to excel in their sales roles. Provide comprehensive training that is tailored to their unique needs and experiences. This can include product knowledge, sales techniques, and any other skills or knowledge specific to your industry. Invest in their professional development and provide ongoing coaching and mentoring to help them succeed.
- Foster Collaboration and Inclusion: It is likely your new hires will bring diverse perspectives and ideas to the table. Foster a collaborative and inclusive culture that encourages open communication and teamwork. Create opportunities for non-traditional salespeople to share their insights, ideas, and feedback. Encourage cross-functional collaboration and create a supportive environment where everyone’s contributions are valued.
- Recognise and Reward Performance: For individuals that aren’t from a typical sales background, they may face unique challenges and could require additional recognition and rewards to stay motivated. Recognize and reward their performance based on their individual strengths and contributions. Celebrate their successes and create a culture of appreciation and acknowledgement.
- Provide Flexibility and Support: Non-traditional salespeople may have different needs and preferences when it comes to their work arrangements. Provide flexibility and support that accommodates their unique requirements. Show empathy and understanding towards their individual situations, and provide the necessary support to help them thrive in their roles.
By breaking away from traditional hiring practices and considering the potential of industry experts, and individuals who don’t have a traditional sales background but demonstrate the personality traits, expertise and acumen to problem solve and build lasting relationships that can drive sales, businesses can tap into a diverse pool of talent and drive sales success to new heights.
So, are you ready to build a high-performing sales team with non-traditional salespeople?
It’s time to think outside the box and embrace the power of diversity in sales.