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Professional Achievement Group, Inc. | Rockville, MD

We have all experienced it. We thought we hired Julia Roberts or Tom Cruise, but they ended up performing more like Ruth Buzzi or Rodney Dangerfield. Most managers and owners have grown to accept this experience as part of recruiting salespeople. However I maintain by just changing several strategies for recruiting, you can more consistently recruit and retain “A” players. Chuck Martin, bestselling author, noted business strategist and founder of NFI Research, has determined through his surveys that managers make their hiring decisions on the following basis:

 ⇒ 64.8% - Personality/Likability
 ⇒ 58.6% - Skills
 ⇒ 53.9% - Track Record
 ⇒ 18.8% - Knowledge of Their Organization
 ⇒ 14.1% - Diversity

You’ll notice that this list does not include “the ability to execute.” I still continue to be surprised at how many sales managers overlook this critical factor. Until management can predict whether sales candidates will succeed in their business, and with their particular challenges, they will continue to be ineffective at consistently identifying, hiring and retaining top sales performers. When a salesperson doesn't quit or isn't terminated, it doesn't necessarily mean that the salesperson was a successful hire. A sales hire is considered successful only when that salesperson achieves success! So here are two areas where I think sales managers and business owners fall short in evaluating “the ability to execute” with sales candidates.

Most managers fail to ask the right questions in interviews. As Chuck Martin’s research indicates, many managers are more concerned about developing rapport with a candidate than asking the tough questions to uncover the real candidate. Simply put, sales managers are often too warm and friendly when interviewing, and avoid placing any pressure on candidates. You’ll never know how candidates will perform with demanding and unyielding prospects, unless you put them there. Your interviewing strategies should present specific situations to candidates that represent the most difficult challenges that a salesperson could experience in your world. You can learn much more about a candidate’s ability to execute by seeing him or her in action in adverse situations. I also maintain that if you haven’t asked assertive questions that baffled a candidate, you probably haven’t identified relevant strengths and weaknesses.

Secondly, many managers do not use effective assessment tools. Studies show that many companies, of all sizes in many industries, are still using traditional instruments that measure personality and/or psychological attributes. Unfortunately, many of these tools are purported to provide sales predictability, however they do not entirely determine if a candidate can and will sell in your world. I recognize that for some of you in larger companies, your hands are tied here since the HR department selects these instruments. But for those of you who have the ability to choose, I strongly encourage you to consider using an assessment that will more extensively determine if a candidate has the ability to execute in your particular business with your unique challenges. I will not endorse any specific assessment tools in this newsletter, since I have decided to not promote products in my content. However, if you wish to know my thoughts, give me a call and I’m happy to share my recommendations.

Of course, enhanced interviewing and the right assessments are only two pieces of the puzzle. Some companies must do more to end the wasted time, money and effort from unfruitful hiring. This could include re-engineering their recruiting process, modifying their selection process, overhauling their development programs and setting higher expectations.

Reach out to us with any questions: Ken Smith  /  301-590-8700, ext.101  /  ken.smith@sandler.com

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