Imagine that you’re purchasing a computer and you have the option of buying a pre-configured computer that has the software already installed and can be used from the get-go, or you could buy a new computer with nothing pre-installed, meaning that you have to invest time in programming to your specifications. As a hiring manager, you have most likely faced this conundrum when deciding between a highly experienced candidate versus one that is new to the industry. Clearly, it is not an easy decision as there are benefits and challenges with each.
Most employers would say that experience is a key determinant of performance when hiring a salesperson, however since inexperienced salespeople can struggle to get their foot in the door at many organisations, they are an untapped talent pool. Of course, they don’t come without their risks – here are the top pros and cons of hiring inexperienced salespeople:
You can teach them the “best practice” way
Inexperienced salespeople – or “green” sales people – are not just limited to young workers who have recently left education, this categorisation extends to those who are returning to work after maternity leave or a candidate who has set off on a career change. Their lack of experience is a benefit because they have not become set in their ways; instead, they’ll be far more flexible and eager to learn than candidates who have developed their own methods over their years of working in sales. This means that the inexperienced sales people will be more adaptable to your company’s processes and strategies. However, you must have an effective onboarding process in place to ensure their transition is smooth.
More accepting of feedback
With less background experience in sales will come a degree of uncertainty and a willingness to accept constructive criticism. Therefore, unpractised candidates will be more eager for feedback, and this is a major benefit for employers because evaluations help to keep sales people motivated. Also, as they’re new to the industry these candidates will work hard to apply this feedback in order to improve their performance.
They bring a new perspective
Over time a sales team can become complacent with their approach to work. Since green salespeople have not been hard-wired from years in the industry they are more likely to question the processes in place, which can help you identify ineffectual operations. If they are coming from a different industry these candidates will bring a fresh outlook with them and inspire innovation in your sales team. Think of the diversity of ideas that you’ll benefit from.
They take longer to become “fully productive”
75% of employers say that it takes a new hire between one and two years before they become “fully productive”, and an inexperienced candidate will generally be closer to the two-year mark as they haven’t had the same amount of training. Understandably, it will take a considerable amount of time before an inexperienced employee can perform to the standard of the rest of the team, which means they can have a negative impact on your overall performance.
Require more training
The advantage of hiring an experienced salesperson is that although they will need to go through onboarding, they will not require as much training compared to inexperienced candidates. If you select a candidate with no background in sales, you will have to invest more time in supporting them to develop skills such as active listening. While the experienced sales people will generally reach productivity faster than the green hires, to build a strong team you must recruit for different levels.
A lack of references
Inexperienced job seekers are more of a risk than candidates who come with years of references since research has shown that referral hires are quicker and stay longer in the role. For example, these testimonials from previous employers can act as proof that a candidate works well under pressure – an important factor in sales – but you will have to take the inexperienced candidate’s word that they won’t buckle when the work gets difficult.
Hire top talent with BMS
Are you interested in learning how BMS can help you build a top-performing sales team? Our specialist sales consultants will work with you to understand your company’s needs and only deliver the best candidates. Contact us today and a member of our team will be in touch.