Many entrepreneurs and recruiters, even for large companies, do not have the training and the scientific knowledge to increase their chances for hiring salespeople who can sell at high levels. They do the best job they can, but they end up making a hiring decision based on thoughts like, “Do we like them? Are they personable? Do they dress well? Can they start now?” They also default to selling the opportunity to the candidate instead of taking them through the stages of a recruiting system. 

As a result, the people they hire end up causing lower cash flow, poor customer satisfaction, and even a negative influence on other sales reps and the company culture as a whole. This causes sleepless nights and hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars in lost revenue and profits

Seven common recruiting missteps have been shown in previous research and studies to decrease the odds of hiring a top performer to several percentage points below a 50/50 coin toss.

1. Overemphasis on Past Experience 

While past experience is essential, recruiters may place too much emphasis on a candidate’s previous sales performance without considering the context of that performance—retail, hospitality, automobiles, insurance. They may never have had to close a sale at the first appointment.

Your position requires prospecting and they have always been given warm leads. In the past they were motivated to sell and earn a particular income and now they just want an easy sales position with a high salary. In addition, over-emphasizing past experience, can lead to overlooking candidates with potential who may not have extensive experience but possess the necessary personality and intelligence to learn the skills to excel in the role.

2. Relying on Non-structured Interviews 

The research is clear. Without a structured interview process, recruiters may be influenced by personal biases, or they may focus on irrelevant factors when evaluating candidates. This can result in not receiving the information to make a good hiring decision. It can lead to poor hires. 

The Harvard Business review, in its article, “The Best Ways to Hire Salespeople,” tells us, “Managers are excessively confident about their ability to evaluate candidates via interviews. In reality, studies indicate a low correlation (generally, less than 25%) between interview predictions and job success, and some indicate that (unstructured) interview processes actually hurt in hiring decisions: the firm would have done better with blind selection procedures.”

3. Inadequate Job Descriptions 

Poorly written or vague job descriptions can attract unsuitable candidates and make it difficult for recruiters to identify top performers. By not clearly outlining the responsibilities, expectations, and qualifications for the role, companies may inadvertently discourage potential top performers from applying. 

More importantly, the traits within well-researched job descriptions make up the basis for what questions to ask in structured interviews—ones that target the exact personality and cognitive traits necessary to be a top sales performer for your company. Structured interviews increase the odds above a coin toss, and along with other important tools, they help a recruiter hire people who can sell.

4. Insufficient Focus on Cultural Fit 

Recruiters may prioritize qualifications and experience over cultural fit, which can lead to hiring a candidate who may not be well-suited for the company’s work environment and for relating to and communicating well with its clients. A candidate who does not align with the company’s values and culture is less likely to thrive in the long run and to have a profitable impact on its customers.

5. Rushed hiring process 

In an effort to fill a position quickly, recruiters may expedite the hiring process, skip or never use screening steps, and fail to conduct multiple interviews resulting in the inadequate evaluation of candidates. This leads to hiring salespeople whom they would have screened out—salespeople who end up turning over and leave a negative legacy on the company.

6. Neglecting Passive Candidates 

Focusing solely on active job seekers may cause recruiters to miss out on top-performing salespeople who are not actively looking for a new job. These people could be open to a compelling opportunity—perhaps one like yours with a better culture and opportunity than what they currently experience. 

By not leveraging networking, referrals, and targeted outreach, companies may miss out on potential top talent. In an economy where most of the best people are already working, they will also be choosing people from a lower quality candidate pool comprised of more people who could not find a job or were dismissed from their previous one. 

7. Lack of a Validated Assessment 

Using validated assessments, that test for personality traits and for standard scores in problem-solving, math, and verbal, and which have validity coefficients in excess of 0.3, provide many percentage points above a coin toss in hiring the best salespeople. Without them the chances to hire someone who can perform well on your sales team drops considerably.

Here’s the good news. All of this can be learned. Each of these seven and common practices have proven solutions with skills and tools to help you recruit great salespeople. 

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