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Six Common Mistakes in the Sales Hiring Process

Is lack of sales results, more sales training costs, months of unearned salary and damage to your company’s image or reputation your company’s method of NOT finding good

salespeople? For most companies it is!

The “trial and error” method of hiring salespeople is very costly to a business. Without a viable way to hire quality sales people everyone in the same organization is negatively affected. Without revenues there often are not adequate human and financial resources to best service customers or grow the business.

“Sales” Pays the Bills

If you’re a seasoned business owner or a manager of a business, you learn that sales fixes most business problems … in other words, when sales revenues are strong, you can more afford to make business mistakes or throw more money at any number of business problems. However, when sales are down you cannot afford any level of unnecessary incremental cost.

Zig Ziglar, the famous sales trainer, once said, “Sales people are really the only people in business who pay the bills!” For vital, revenue generating positions like sales, businesses cannot afford a trial and error method of finding quality sales personnel.

Show Me the Way!

Hiring quality employees has always been a major challenge for any business owner or manager. Hiring mistakes are common no matter the business function and most are directly attributed to six fundamental hiring mistakes:

  1. Assuming the hiring manager knows how to qualify people
    Being able to effectively interview and qualify people, like any other skill is not an innate talent. Some people are better than others at assessing hire candidate’s potential. As a hiring manager you must seek others perspectives of candidates and establish an interview team for each open position, than collectively discuss each candidate for optimum results.
  2. Not defining EXACTLY what you are looking for in a new hire
    The adage: “If you don’t know what you want you’ll never get it” applies in hiring salespeople. When you establish an interview team, document a comprehensive job description with duties and responsibilities clearly defined for each interview team member. Be sure to list desirable talents, skills and areas of knowledge. If you want multiple perspectives on candidate traits or experiences, have each person focus on a limited number of desired skill sets.
  3. Assuming specific business functions know how to hire “like” talent
    Do sales people best know how to hire other sales people? Not necessarily! Just because someone is capable in a specific job function does not mean they know how to hire people with the same level of talent.
  4. Over emphasizing a hire candidate’s personality or “looks”
    This one is obvious, but, one of the most common hiring mistakes.
  5. Not effectively checking previous employment references
    If you consistently miss critical insights into a salesperson’s capabilities, motivations or character prior to hire, it is generally because you chose not to or did not effectively investigate a candidate’s previous employment history. Given the potential cost of a poor hiring mistake, it makes financial sense to spend a nominal amount of money and have a professional check out a candidate’s references.
  6. Hiring in your own likeness
    Everyone likes to hire people who either have their same; background, education, philosophies, interests, motivations or friends, but, more often than not, this is a major mistake. Sales team diversity is critical to long term sales success.

If your organization can establish an effective program to evaluate potential new sales personnel on a probationary basis you can also significantly reduce your hire risks. Establish a legal document whereby the candidate and your company mutually agree to a 4 to 6 month “mutual evaluation period”. Define upfront all position performance metrics for the candidate and a clear financial remuneration to be paid if they do not meet the performance thresholds. Be sure this agreement is written by a qualified attorney. If the “honeymoon” is wonderful, there is a good chance the marriage is going to be a success!

Organizations have a shared responsibility to hire the best selling talent possible. Whether you seek experienced sales people or “rookies” with just energy and attitude, a disciplined approach to PRE-qualifying tomorrow’s sales superstar is paramount. If you cannot find quality sales people, don’t compromise!

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