The media landscape is changing at an accelerated pace every day. It’s not surprising that the last 3 years have seen a “weeding out” of both sales executives and managers. While sadly some were displaced by economic factors, others simply may not be equipped to operate in the new environment of media sales. The other new reality is that the days of working a traditional account list and expecting to cruise along are gone!
Hiring sales executives with good business development skills is essential.So how do you find good business development reps with the necessary skills?
- What is their Natural Curiosity quotient? Good BD’s have a natural curiosity about everything around them and how it works. They instinctively want to know who, what, where, when, why and how much about everything. They ask a lot of questions and use the answers to connect the dots and return it to you in closed business. The naturally curious candidate will want to know plenty. Don’t be alarmed if some of their questions are sensitive. The deeper the questions, the better. Consider this a prelude to asking a client a “real pain” question to get to the real need.
- Are they Digital/Social Savvy? Lately I’ve been doing a sales meeting with my clients on using Social Media to find prospects. It’s interesting to me how many media reps don’t use great tools like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter to find leads and contacts. Today’s sales reps have amazing tools (all free by the way) to find and communicate with contacts. Give a candidate a hypothetical scenario of a client and ask how they’d find leads and contacts. If they don’t mention any one of the every growing social media sites, reconsider the candidate.
- Can this Person Generate Their Own Leads? It’s not only can they, but how quickly can they get to the money or move on. We have a saying in our company to “Follow the trail of money”. In adversity, you can truly see what someone is made of when it comes to business development. Talk about the toughest patch in their career, how did they emerge? Where did they find their biggest business development account?
- Ask for Specific Examples and Dig Deep. Ask for specific examples about their best business development account(s) from past experience. Who was the decision-maker? What was the process to close? Who else was involved? What were the challenges? How long was this a client? What would the client say about you?
- Are they a Cocktail Party Expert? – Is this a person you could turn loose in a cocktail party full of experts from various industries and they would hold their own? Could they strike up a conversation with an Auto Mechanic as easily as a Neurosurgeon? These same people often have the gift of gab and the ability to use their business knowledge to apply to many industries to ask intelligent questions and keep a conversation going.
- Is this person Resourceful and Adaptable? Tying into many of the tips mentioned above, a resourceful person will be creative in finding information on their client and the world around them. If they mention a resource you don’t know or use, that is a good sign. They also look for ways to work smarter, not harder. They look for solutions that are creative and efficient. And, they are good at going with the flow.
There is still some “gut” that goes into hiring a good business developer and you should never ignore that feeling, nor should you ignore references. However, focus on the skills that matter in today’s business development world.