Most company leaders know that hiring wrong can be an incredibly costly mistake in terms of lost sales, spent wages, and the reduced effectiveness of other team members.
Poor performance is oddly contagious. A bad hire can be disruptive to an organization, and that’s another important reason why hiring “right” is so important.
Unfortunately, many organizations get it very, very wrong -- hiring without the benefit of truly understanding the candidates selling skills, and perhaps even more important, having insight into how they will react once they are in the field tasked with securing appointments with decision-makers and hitting quota month after month.
This approach isn’t successful, but it’s all some organizations know, and they just keep repeating it: hire wrong, slowly watch the recruit fail, begin the recruiting process anew.
If this all sounds a little too familiar, you’re not alone, but you do need to correct your recruiting process...fast. It’s costing you dearly.
Most poor hires result from sales recruiting mistakes made during or even before the recruiting process begins.
By learning about and recognizing sales recruiting mistakes, you can avoid making them in your own company and save yourself a lot of time and frustration.
Here are the top 5 sales recruiting mistakes we see most often:
1. Not defining the sales competencies and the mental DNA you desire in the representatives you on-board.
It will be very challenging to find a sales rep that fits your company culture if you have little understanding of the ideal sales representative profile you are seeking as it relates to your organization's core values, corporate identity, and revenue initiatives.
Ask yourself what you would like your sales organization to look like, what skills are needed, and then develop a process that will enable you to attract, identify and hire with those attributes in mind.
2. Not screening candidates properly before the interview.
Another common hiring error is failing to weed out weak candidates using a predictive candidate assessment prior to the interview stage. Companies look at resumes, essentially say, “good enough” based on the listed qualifications, and bring in those people for an interview.
The trouble is that weak sales candidates often have very strong interview skills, and they end up in positions they have no business being in because they “fooled” the interviewer.
Scrutinize every resume for the things that will make that person a good fit for your company, and then use a scientifically-proven candidate assessment with each candidate before you begin the interview process. You will come to find out that most people aren’t as qualified as their resume implies.
3. Offering too low salary.
While it’s true that money isn’t the main motivator to many salespeople today, most will have a good idea of what their skills are worth. If you’re offering non-competitive compensation packages, you’re unlikely to get a great batch of candidates.
This is one of the easiest sales recruiting mistakes to fall into because it isn’t immediately obvious where you are losing out.
Over time, however, your team is likely to become comprised as a result of the “C players” you are attracting and hiring. The more talented candidates will leave for higher-paying jobs at other companies -- perhaps even your competitors.
4. Rushing the recruiting process.
Harvey Mackay wrote a great book titled Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty.
It’s a concept that lends itself well to recruiting. Recruiting is a process that should be ongoing. Waiting until sales are dropping to hire a new sales professional usually results in poor timing and can create an atmosphere of frustration that can sabotage a new hire's ability to effectively ramp up. Now everyone loses.
It’s a safe bet that, rushing the recruiting process will only make matters worse.
The more you rush the process, the more sales recruiting mistakes you are likely to make, and the more likely that you will end up with a disruptive or inferior candidate.
Rushing prevents you from spotting a flaw in someone’s character during the interview phase – or, even worse, makes you decide to just overlook it because you are desperate to fill the position.
You may also miss out on a great candidate who might enter into the recruitment process if you had kept the application window open for a bit longer.
In other words, slow and steady wins the recruitment race.
5. Hiring on past performance alone.
From your point of view, one candidate may stand out with stronger performances in past sales roles, but don’t hire them unless they also meet your other criteria (point 1 above).
Why? Here’s an example: A previously great performer may struggle on your team and become disruptive or nonproductive if they are used to being a star performer and are now asked to operate in a team environment that does not center on them.
When you implement these 5 steps, you’ll find that you need a lot more of the right candidates and the right tools to help with selection. Again, a very accurate, sales-specific assessment is your best bet for predicting sales success.
You may also find that you send out a lot of assessments only to have a few come back as qualified. Don’t let that panic you. It’s better to have a small pool of qualified candidates than a big pool of ones who just don’t have what it takes.
When we work with companies determined to improve their recruiting process, we collaborate with them to create a custom-tailored sales candidate assessment. It works for every sales role. It works in every industry. We can make it work for you, too.
You can even take a quick peek at the current state of your recruiting process by using this free tool now.
Improving your sales recruitment process should be a priority for reducing your cost of hiring, shorten your ramp-up and significantly increase the odds that you have on-boarded a winner. We look forward to helping you do it.
Sales management expert Duane Cashin has lead award-winning sales organizations and trained sales teams for companies of all sizes. He’s earned membership in Presidents Club and Circle of Excellence, successfully built and sold his own multi-million-dollar business, and enjoys sharing his passion for sales.