As a leader, some of the most important decisions you make are  when selecting new sales reps to join your team.

Think about the amount of time, money and energy it takes to add someone to your work family…. especially someone who will represent your company to potential buyers.

The hours of training, explaining what and why your company exists, getting to know what drives them, and ensuring they can skillfully and willfully execute within their role takes time, money, and energy from other parts of your business.

Knowledge is PowerMaking a hiring error costs…a lot. The cost estimates for a bad sales hire range from 1.5 to 5 times annual wages. When it’s a customer-facing position like sales, customer service, or management, there are many intangible costs as well—relationships, missed opportunities, and tarnished image are just a start.

That’s why “thinking” or “believing” a candidate will work out can be a big mistake.

Why then do so many small company owners, hiring managers, and executives still hire who they “think” can sell based on subjective information gathered from the resume and an interview.

Big Mistakes Executives Make When Hiring

The biggest mistakes executives in small companies make in hiring are:

  • Selling the job to the candidate versus vetting out the person
  • Talking about what is important to them, versus finding out how the candidates background, desires, skills and motivators will actually contribute to the company
  • Making assumptions about who they are getting because of “mini-me” characteristics such as: similar hobbies, school or sports affiliations, or past employers
  • Believing the stories of sales success without verifying their accuracy
  • Not exploring fit to the culture of their company
  • Delaying candidate interviews too long. Oh, the stories I have of great candidates lost because executives couldn’t make the time to meet the candidate!

How do we go from thinking to really knowing that new sales reps and sales leaders will succeed? By ensuring we have the right objective data early enough in the selection process to combine with our intuition and beliefs.

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From working with hundreds of leaders in the last decade, I can tell you the “winging it” hiring approach fails far more often than it succeeds.

What works more effectively? A hiring approach that collects the information you really need to make the best hiring decision. Your hiring process doesn’t need to be complicated; it only needs to be effective.

Simple Hiring Processes Increase Success Rate

A hiring process could be as simple as:

  1. Post the position in applicable places and network
  2. Objective assessment of candidates whose qualifications match on paper
  3. Phone interview to identify deal breakers such as location, compensation, interest level
  4. Face to face interview focused on learning about how they work, what’s important to them, examples of specific situations from previous jobs
  5. Second in-person or Skype interview with additional members of your team – focused on specific areas you want to confirm or learn more about and a role play to see them in action
  6. Reference checks

Objective Data Matters

It’s the objective piece that is often skipped. And it’s a mistake. Salespeople may be able to talk a good game, but do they possess the skills and attitude to succeed?

The data from the assessment can help you drive the interview focus, verify specific qualities, behaviors, attitudes and stop you from wasting time with sales candidates who won’t sell at the level you require.

The candidate assessments we use, for example, produce a 75% success rate for new sales hires, meaning that 75% of the candidates who are recommended using the objective and scientific approach followed by effective interviews are achieving quota in the first year. They are scientifically based and proven to select winners.

To increase your probability of a sales hire who will produce, use a simple yet effective process that includes objective assessment to help you know they are a good fit. Then watch your sales grow.

Do you think or do you know your next sales hire will succeed? It’s a $100K-400K difference.  You may want to check.

It’s full of helpful information to increase your probability of selecting sales all-stars.
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Timely Tips for Hiring Top Sales Performers

4 Success Drivers You Need to Know...and Grow


How do you strengthen this "Will" among your sales associates? How does the lack of drive impact your daily life? I discussed this and so much more on a recent virtual training event you can access below. It's valuable information for any business leader who needs to maximize performance of their people to grow their company.

Click here to access the replay.