I am sure that most FX sales managers have several “sob’ stories in their back pockets that never make it into their official, glamorous track records. Stories about hiring the wrong salesperson, someone who not only didn’t generate any accounts, but who harmed the business along the way, either by misrepresenting the company and its product, or by putting some of the key company relationships at risk.
Poor training and supervision aside, such cases often occur due to the fact that things may be missed during the interview process. Of course, all candidates shine on paper and typically, an in-person interview should be a “judgment call” day however, where salespeople are concerned, it’s often a tough call.
At the end of the day, good salespeople should at least know how to sell themselves in the first place! In FX and, in particular, retail FX, sales personnel turnover is very high. Regardless of the many reasons why this is the norm, I believe that FX companies should strive to achieve higher rates of retention in an effort to save money, precious time, increase efficiency, stay ahead of competition…. and the list goes on and on. Having dealt with a lot of different sales personalities throughout my career, I can attest that, on many occasions we simply fall for the personality. A positive attitude, strong business acumen, excellent presentation skills, exuberant enthusiasm, a pleasant demeanor and the ability to articulate a value proposition. All of these are really important, but before you extend an offer to your next sales “superstar”, please look out for the following warning signs, sales personalities that may turn out to be an optical illusion down the line. Are you looking to hire a sales superstar?
The Coronated Sales Diva
This candidate used to be a top sales performer at their previous company. A sales diva, praised by executive management ,regarded as the # 1 breadwinner in the company and enjoying all the perks that come along with this wide recognition. Overly confident, knows how to impress intelligently and throws around names from an extensive FX network to confirm it. They know everyone in FX, all the big banks contacts and all the major players. But look closely and you may find out that this sales diva was placed in a fertile territory where only a tiny fraction of the potential business was actually captured, or that the “multi-million” dollar revenue boasted on the resume was collected from accounts that were inherited from previous sales persons.
We all know that sales is a numbers game. Some “talented” sales reps may find a way to deliver numbers that look outstanding on the surface, but have lots of caveats behind them. Smart sales reps who are looking to game the system know the rules of engagement and craft their strategies in a way to direct attention towards the major KPIs, the data that their managers measure them by and the metrics on which they are paid sales commission. A typical way of gaming the system in the FX B2B space is, for example, to achieve high revenue numbers by striking “loss-leading “custom deals by convincing management of high potential volume and returns down the road if they give in on price to acquire the client. By offering the most lucrative deal, the sales person automatically beats any of their competition that adheres to a rigid, onboarding price structure. They, in turn, earn a sales commission that is based on revenue produced but, alas, they generate negative margins on the account for the company.Also, in the retail FX space, where most of the reps are paid commissions based on client deposits, some foresighted sales people find ways to have deposits in before the end of the quarter and schedule any withdrawals until after the pay-day cut off.
One may think that impudence is second nature to a sales person, but while a slightly cheeky, healthy assertive salesperson is the typical profile of a top producer, those attributes may be used in less productive ways within the company environment. Your sales superstar might have earned their track record by forcing other junior reps to do the heavy lifting for them,or by cherry picking leads from the company’s pipeline, or by taking prospects from their peers based on their tenure, personal meetings, etc. This personality type is certainly counterproductive and extremely disruptive to your entire sales team.
“Trust Fund Baby”
A “trust fund baby” is a salesperson coming from a widely recognizable , large industry-leading company that generates lots of qualified leads daily from strong brand equity alone. A great sales track record in this case directly correlated to the sheer number of leads produced as a result of a multi-million dollar marketing budget and global brand recognition. If you are looking for a sales rep for your startup or business where there are no leads delivered daily on a silver platter, you may want to reconsider your options.
When hiring your next sales superstar, “measure thrice and cut once” as they say. Carefully validate the track record to ensure that your new hire will meet all of the expectations you have set. Some questions you may ask in order to help assess legitimacy of candidate’s sales record are as follows: –
List your top clients and explain how you acquired them.
How did you acquire the leads to convert these clients?
Have you had any joint accounts with another sales person? Explain how you worked with another rep (Was thecooperation for opening, prospecting, closing?). Where any other parties involved during the sales process?
What was the total volume /number of clients (and any other relevant metric/KPI) from the territories that were under your control.
Where there any accounts that required custom conditions? Ask them to explain the economics of the deal.
The above list is just for starters and can be expanded where necessary. The better the due diligence conducted on your candidate, the easier your job will be.
And one last thing from my own personal experience – although we operate on a global, electronic basis, please do make an effort to meet your candidate in person!