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Hiring salespeople- why it's often a gamble, and how to improve your odds.

Updated: May 8


hiring salespeople


Hiring salespeople too often feels like a game of chance, a crapshoot…where success and failure seem to hang in the balance. Companies invest significant resources in recruitment, yet the outcome all frequently remains uncertain. 


What makes hiring salespeople such a daunting task, and how can businesses navigate the unpredictable nature of this crucial process?


One of the primary challenges lies in the inherent subjectivity of evaluating sales skills. Unlike technical roles with clear-cut qualifications, assessing a candidate's sales prowess involves a nuanced understanding of their interpersonal skills, emotional intelligence, and adaptability. Traditional hiring metrics, such as resumes and interviews, may not fully capture a candidate's ability to build relationships, think on their feet, and close deals effectively.


Another factor contributing to the crapshoot nature of hiring salespeople is the dynamic nature of different sales environments and products. A candidate who exceled at selling, Ford trucks (for example) in a previous role, might struggle mightily in a role where they are selling Website SEO services. It becomes challenging for hiring managers to predict whether a salesperson will be agile enough to navigate the ever-shifting terrain of the market.


Furthermore, the discrepancy between a candidate's interview performance and their on-the-job effectiveness adds another layer of uncertainty. Salespeople are often charismatic and skilled at presenting themselves, making it difficult for recruiters to differentiate between genuine ability and polished interview techniques. This disconnection can lead to hiring decisions based on perception rather than a candidate's actual capability to meet sales targets and drive revenue.


The intangible nature of cultural fit poses yet another obstacle in the hiring process. Sales teams thrive on collaboration, communication, and a shared vision. A candidate who excelled in a different organizational culture may struggle to integrate into a new work environment. This misalignment can disrupt team harmony and reduce overall sales performance.


To mitigate the crapshoot effect in hiring salespeople, businesses can adopt a multifaceted approach. Implementing rigorous assessment tools that go beyond traditional interviews. Behavioral assessments that shed light on a candidate’s drives and motivations is one such type of assessment.  Another might be simulated sales scenarios or role-playing exercises, which can provide a more accurate picture of a candidate's skills. Additionally, leveraging data analytics to track the success of past hires and identifying patterns can help refine the hiring process over time.


It’s likely that hiring salespeople will always be a challenging endeavor due to the intricate blend of subjective evaluation, evolving industry landscapes, and the elusive concept of cultural fit. While the crapshoot nature of this process may never be fully eradicated, businesses can enhance their chances of success by embracing innovative assessment methods, staying attuned to industry trends, and continuously refining their hiring strategies.


One of the best and most economical way to improve the odds of a sales hiring success is to employ a normative, validated, behavioral sales assessment test. This will provide you info about the intrinsic motivations of your candidates and should help reduce the likelihood of a poor hire.


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