The 10 Most Common Sales Force Hiring Mistakes

Hiring superstar sales talent is a lot easier than your managers will tell you. Their problem: they think hiring salespeople is the same as hiring for other positions. Wrong. Sales selection requires a completely different process.

Here are the ten most common sales force-hiring mistakes and how to avoid them.

Mistake #1: Not making recruiting and retaining great sales talent your #1 business priority. Solution: Make this a significant goal for all your managers, and tie a good chunk of their performance bonus to the goal.

Mistake #2: Lacking a system for recruiting top talent from outside your industry. Solution: Create a hiring process for identifying top talent from industries with similar sales environments, and include an on-boarding program to cut ramp time. Example: Sellers who’ve sold conceptual financial services by calling on CEOs and presidents can ramp up to sell other conceptual services, like advertising or consulting.

Mistake #3: Hiring salespeople who can sell instead of those who will sell. The ONLY criterion for selecting superior sales talent is: Will they sell? Not “can they sell?” Sales teams are full of imposters who know how to sell, but won’t.

Mistake #4: Not knowing how to IDENTIFY superstar sales candidates. How do you? Pick the best sales people in your industry, or your company and perform a benchmark evaluation of the behaviors, attitudes, skills and environmental fit to make them champions.

Mistake#5: Hiring managers conduct traditional interviews, and fail to ask the right questions to unmask the “real” candidate. Solution: Conduct audition interviews, which simulate the tough environment to which a real prospect would subject them.

Mistake #6: Hiring to availability instead of to excellence. Solution: Hold your hiring managers accountable to hiring only “A” players.

Mistake #7: Hiring people based on “impressions” instead of hiring those they know will sell. Solution: Change your hiring criteria.

Mistake #8: Failing to learn the five hidden weaknesses that neutralize selling skills. Solution: Learn all five and how to spot them.

They are:

  1. Need for Approval: An emotional need to be liked (common in 85 % of sales people in the United States.)
  2. Emotional Involvement: They lose objectivity and forget what to do in the heat of battle.
  3. Money Weaknesses: Are uncomfortable talking about money, or have a low money tolerance.
  4. Buy Cycle: They are indecisive when buying, or shop around on price. As a result, they’re vulnerable to prospects that want to do the same.
  5. Self-Limiting Beliefs: If you cannot believe it, you cannot achieve it. These missing beliefs about themselves and selling predetermine their outcomes.

Mistake #9: Failing to measure and reward your employees for referring great candidate employees. Solution: Make it a priority. Set goals for candidate referrals. Pay handsomely, half on hire, half six months later.

Mistake #10: Advertising for positions, instead of for people. The magic is to write ads to describe your superstar. How? Write ads that cause superstars to remark upon reading: “That’s me.”

3 replies
  1. Michael
    Michael says:

    Here is a common mistake made by organizations (and not the hiring agent)

    Thinking your organizational structure is scalable.

    By that I mean that you really need to re-tweak various department’s functions as your sales team grows. With gradual growth and hiring in small increments, its easy to overlook the decrease in efficiency throughout various processes.

    An example my company experienced has to deal with sales commission reporting. With only a few reps it was easy for me to copy and paste out of a master commissions spreadsheet to create individual statements. As sales rose and we hired additional employees, this became much more cumbersome. It didn’t occur to me that I needed an alternative solution until end of period reporting would take me the better part of a day. Luckily I came across a tool (http://www.oneclickcommissions.com/ns.html) which made this much less of a task. It actually freed up enough time for me to squeeze an extra round of golf in each month!

    Thanks for the post Steve, I found it most interesting. I am a huge fan of lists. Will search you in the future.

    Reply

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