The Big Mistake to Avoid in Building Your Sales Force

I have learned that mistakes are better teachers than successes. Sometimes we must make the mistakes ourselves, but often we can learn from others making those mistakes. When it comes to hiring, let me help you learn from others.

Of the numerous mistakes made hiring, the biggest one we see, the one that fails most miserably is: Using the same techniques to hire salespeople that you use to hire everyone else.

Salespeople are Different

Fact is, you, as the manager, owner, or president, want them to be different so they can effectively do their job. Consequently, you must hire them differently.

First, do not get stuck on hiring directly from your industry. Too many hiring managers feel that it’s easier to hire salespeople that way.

It may be simpler to onboard them about products and services but make absolutely certain that they are successful selling before falling in love with their industry knowledge. They must have had success in a similar environment, selling to the title of the person you want them to sell to; selling in a consultative fashion if that is called for; selling a higher-priced option if you are higher priced, and so on.

Without fail, whenever I ask hiring managers to tell me whether they think it is easier to train someone on their products or services, or whether it is easier to train an industry expert to sell, they always say it is harder to teach someone to sell. And they are right. Decide to hire the best salesperson that is appropriate for the position, and then determine if their industry experience will be a benefit.

Don’t Like Them, Evaluate Them

Second, do not rely on your like/dislike meter, rather evaluate them quantitatively. I am told that our gut instinct is only about 14% accurate in predicting sales success. Without other data, it is easy to just rely on first impressions. If they connect with us, if we like them or see ourselves in them, it may cloud our judgement. Don’t be fooled by an interview. After all, anyone can be great in an interview once.

And yes, when the market is tight for talent, it is easy to get caught up in the belief that having someone in the role is better than the spot being left empty. This is faulty thinking. It will cost you dearly to hire the wrong individual. I have seen statistics saying the cost to hire a dud is somewhere between 300% and 500% of the hired salesperson’s annual compensation. Therefore, you cannot afford to get it wrong.

A Scientific Approach

Rather than relying on gut instinct or the candidate’s ability to connect with you, apply science to your process. Use data and objective tools such as the assessments from Objective Management Group (the pioneer in sales talent assessments) to delve into whether the candidate will sell successfully for you or not before you invest any time meeting with them.

Oh, I hear the groans. I understand the complaints that recruiters raise in a tight talent market. Do not succumb to the pressure. Don’t act too quickly. You cannot afford to get the wrong person in the role. It will turn out poorly.

As a matter of fact, we have data that shows companies who use our prescribed process to hire, which includes the implementation of the Objective Management Group candidate assessment, experience a much higher quota attainment (88% on average compared to a 61% quota attainment by companies that use other assessments for sales hiring) and companies experience a much lower attrition rate using our process (8% attrition on average compared to 14% attrition).

Here is a glimpse of a nearly fool-proof process to hire sales talent. We’d be happy to assist in implementing this process in the event yours isn’t excellent.

Data compliments of CSO Insights Sales Talent Study 2018 and Rexer Analytics 2019