The basics of topgrading your clients for sales professionals - SRA Newman Group

The Basics of Topgrading Your Sales Hiring

Topgrading is a popular hiring and recruiting practice that identifies key candidates through a detailed interviewing methodology. Because this approach is more thorough than conventional interviewing, it is used by major corporations to fill critical roles and to position firms to meet future goals. It applies to current team members up for promotion as well as potential recruits.

Because topgrading involves ranking candidates, the philosophy is based on seeking out the highest quality team with talented and well-rounded profiles. In simplest terms, it’s vetting a candidate to best suit a role in experience, skills, character, and values.

Have a plan 

The first step to topgrading your team is to know exactly what you are looking for even before you start interviewing or speaking to your staff. Having a clear idea of the profiles you need will ensure that you can properly evaluate everything that appears in the interview. With a defined model and descriptions, topgrading will be smoother sailing.

You can work with a hiring manager or consultants to help create a sketch of your ideal candidate.  Hone in on the perfect description of the available role, as well as your company’s culture and expectations. Also begin brainstorming how you will recruit the best candidates, whether it be using a firm or by asking your current team members. Flesh out as much as you can in the preliminary stages so you won’t have to go back to the drawing board later on. 

Implement your sourcing plan

Get going finding through A-players based on the defined vision. Search proactively and ruthlessly. Schedule telephone screening interviews to gauge legitimate interest. When candidates are verified, competency interviews are performed to determine how a candidate measures up in terms of skill, organization, leadership, personality, resourcefulness, and more. Hang on to what you’ve deemed must-haves and figure out how to judge for those factors. 

Next comes the secret to topgrading: tandem interviews with two current team members, usually a hiring manager and another manager. Here questions pertain to employment history and specific questions on strengths, weaknesses, and the like. If a candidate passes this detailed evaluation, numerous references are contacted. Competencies are cross-checked. The candidate will continue interviewing with various current team members as necessary. 

Recruiters want to zero in on the candidates will the highest aptitudes for the role and the best attitude for the company.  Keep this process as streamlined as possible to avoid misfires in communication. 

On using topgrading in your current team

Topgrading works for talent already on your team. Members should be evaluated regularly, like once per quarter. Steller A-listers should be identified and cultivated, while C-level staff should be let go or reassigned. Sales staff thrives on excellent performance, recognition, and rewards. topgrading will keep them motivated. You’ll want to develop metrics similar to those devised in your brainstorming sessions for ideal candidates, then meet with staff members to learn about their progress and challenges.   

Topgrading should become a cyclical routine that optimizing the performance of your team. For best results, offer training and resources to your team members to support them and keep them engaged. Consider crafting individualized development plans for each team member and ask for their feedback. This is how you can lay the foundation for an expert sales strategy.

Onboarding and training

Onboarding is essential for success in a new role. It grants hires and team members plenty of opportunities to dive into the new role fluent in company materials, culture and expectations. One great onboarding tip is to assign each employee with a mentor or partner to guide them. Throughout the process, not only provide any necessary job training but also technical resources and social opportunities to interact with staff across the echelon. Include a schedule of all the topics covered for transparency, and keep in contact beyond the initial weeks to show commitment. Assess how the process is going and find out how you can deliver clear instructions and comfortable landing points.

Once the team is arranged, invest in programs to keep your team members engaged by offering lectures and hands-on activities to arm your team with knowledge, skills, and motivation. Inquire about their needs and wishes and do your best to cater to your staff. This will help them keep up morale, productivity, and results. 

It’s not a simple recipe for hiring, yet the result is tremendous. While intensive, using topgrading gives companies a stronger team and higher performance. Will you consider topgrading your sales team?