• Duane Cashin

6 Overlooked Factors When Hiring Salespeople

If selling was easy, companies would pay high school kids minimum wage to do it instead of investing millions in hiring, training, process development, and incentives like lucrative compensation plans.

Selling, particularly in today's information-rich, buyer-centric environment, is hard for even the most seasoned sales reps. For reps new to the industry or the organization, the task of selling becomes even more difficult.

The bar is set high, and the learning curve is steep. You can’t really expect success right away but people do. I think that’s why so many sales reps quit so early in the game (or get fired). Lack of immediate success in making quota is incredibly disheartening.

It is tricky to say exactly how long it should take for a new sales representative to be selling with the company and closing enough deals to be making quota.

It depends on quite a few variables including whether the sales person is coming into a lead-rich environment or if they’ll be responsible for generating their own leads. In a lead-rich environment, the time frame for success could be mere weeks. Sales reps responsible for their own leads could have a ramp-up period of several months.

But, leads aren’t the only issue, and it’s important that you know what to expect from your team so that you can:

A. be a good coach and provide the essential training and support needed in those frustrating first weeks/months, and

B. not expect too much too soon from your new sales reps and fire too quickly. If you quit on a quality salesperson after a few weeks when you should wait months, you’re setting yourself up for an endless cycle of hire, fire, hire, fire, hire, fire.

I’ve had the pleasure of directly hiring and promoting amazing sales reps across different geographies and industries, as well as coaching sales executives on how to successfully do the same. While no one can pinpoint exactly when a salesperson will be up and running at full speed and meeting sales goals, there is a way to roughly set your expectations.

There are six factors in total that determine the time to success, 3 on your side and 3 on the salesperson’s side.

Let's start with you. Consider:

  1. The onboarding & transition period.

  2. The length of your learning curve.

  3. The length of your sales cycle.

All of these work together. If you have a six-month sales cycle, a three-month learning curve, and it takes 3 months to transition from their old world to your business, that translates to 12 months of pipeline building before you can reasonably expect your new salesperson to start closing business.

On the salesperson side, consider:

  1. Their “runway” -- the cash or safety net that will allow them to survive a transition that doesn’t guarantee income.

  2. Their degree of urgency -- how focused they are to get off to a great start.

  3. How much more difficult they perceive your business to be compared with their old business.

If your new salesperson has a six-month runway, medium urgency, and selling in your world is more difficult than the world from which they came, there is a negative six-month gap, and their failure is almost all but guaranteed.

Wouldn’t it be great to know those things before you hired them? Can you imagine the frustration it would prevent? The money you’d save? A good hiring strategy will allow you to select the right salespeople from the start, experience far less turnover, fewer delays in growing revenue, and stronger sales teams.

If you’re interested, give us a call. We have access to the most predictive, accurate, and customizable candidate assessments in the world and can help you on your journey to smarter hiring.

Bottom line? Know what to expect and when to expect it from new sales reps.

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