Employees are the lifeblood of your company — and sales representatives are, arguably, even more valuable than your average hire.
Sales reps are the faces representing your products. They interact with and change the lives of customers of every race, culture, religion, and ethnicity. It’s no wonder 78 percent of recruiters view hiring for diversity as extremely important, according to a recent LinkedIn report.
Among the top reasons for why they feel it is important to focus on diversity, recruiters list such things as improving culture, improving company performance, and building workforces that better represent their customer bases. In sales especially, the combination of all three of these factors is a recipe for company success.
Reaching overall company goals starts and ends with recruiting a team that can truly drive your company’s mission forward. Here’s how diversity-focused hiring will save your sales team:
1. Improving Culture
Even though many sales reps — especially those in fields like medical sales — spend a lot of time alone on the road, they love being part of a team. In fact, 54 percent of sales reps say team-building and collaboration are the most important values in an employer, according to the “2018 Best Places to Work” report from MedReps.
Building a company culture focused on teamwork can only go so far without diversity. Generally speaking, teams are better at solving problems and thinking creatively when they contain members from various ethnicities, genders, cultures, and backgrounds.
Hiring for both diversity and company culture fit can be confusing. Remember: Candidates who will excel in your culture don’t need to all share the same selling style, problem-solving skills, attitudes, or personalities. Look for candidates who believe in the company’s mission and vision while bringing fresh opinions and selling styles to your team.
2. Increasing Performance
Your sales team is full of driven, motivated, competitive people. Consider what would happen if their already excellent performances were enhanced by constructive challenges from their own peers.
Diversity-focused hiring allows recruits with different perspectives to shine new lights on company processes and procedures. This prevents current and future sales team members from becoming overly comfortable and complacent.
Seek out candidates who aren’t afraid to think outside the box. I don’t just mean candidates who bring unique ideas to the table, but candidates who are not afraid to ask questions, who don’t mind being wrong, and who are comfortable expressing their opinions.
To find candidates who meet this criteria, add a real-time brainstorming session to your interview process. Have team members discuss current client, economic, and company issues. Encourage the candidate to speak candidly, as if they were already part of the team. When you find someone who sparks further conversation and gets your team really excited about a topic, you’ll know they are the candidate who brings the diversity your company needs.
3. Reflecting Your Customer Base
In general, you should be hiring with your customers in mind. Their opinions of and comfort with your sales reps matter most to the company’s overall success. Your customers come from a variety of backgrounds and have a variety of personalities. If you want them to fully connect with and trust your company, your sales team should be similarly diverse.
Use your database to get basic information about your customers, and then get your team involved. Ask them where they’ve run into misunderstandings or disconnects while in the field. Use these gaps in information, personalities, and backgrounds to recruit candidates who can round out your team and better represent your customers.