Stop Falling for Charming Personalities

by Cheryl Powers

"Nothing happens until somebody sells something."

That makes getting sales recruitment right one of the single most important things a company must do to grow. And it's not easy - for many reasons. Not the least of which is that even a terrible salesperson is probably better at controlling the interview than you are. They've done it more and they will focus all of their energy on telling you all the things that make you want to believe that they'd be perfect for the position.

And you believe them. Why? The answers to that question run the gamut and I think I have heard them all. When clients hire my firm to help them with their sales and sales leadership hiring initiatives, the most difficult part of my job is to get them to stop falling in love with candidates who haven't been fully vetted.

The most difficult part of my job is to get you to stop falling in love with candidates who haven't been fully vetted.

But thinking wrong feels so right.

Until it doesn't and you're stuck with a salesperson who isn't getting the job done. And for some CEOs and business owners that means you are going to be stuck with them for a very long time because you are afraid "they might be closing that big deal soon." They won't be. And because "it was hard enough to fill this seat so we may as well keep them until we find a replacement."  Which will probably happen on the 12th of never. It's called loss aversion and it means you'd much rather avoid hiring another bad salesperson than actually find a better way to gain a great one, even if it costs you a whole lot of time, money, and resources. Which it will.

It doesn't have to be that way.

If you keep doing the same things, you'll keep getting the same results. We all know Einstein's famous definition of insanity:

"Insanity is doing the same things over again and expecting different results."
What are some of the things you'll need to change to start hiring salespeople and sales leaders who can and will sell for your company? The list is pretty large but here are several important changes to consider:

Your broken recruitment process. 

I know. It's a great process and it works for every other function in your company. Here's the hitch. The sales function is different from every other function in your company. And the differences are dramatic. For example, I have never met an office manager who works on commission. I have never seen a CFO go up against the competition to prepare a balance sheet. And I have never met a production manager who had to make cold calls.

Your hiring process must be effective in weeding out the candidates who are not suitable for the role as well as magnetizing those who are extremely capable of doing the job well. It must also be effective at matching candidates based on your cultural and marketplace needs.

Your obsession with resumes.

Often a resume is a brochure designed by a resume writer to fit your needs and to get you to fall in love with a candidate and exclaim something like, "I love this guy!" Or, "She sounds perfect!" 

More than 30 million people get jobs each year by lying on their resumes. That's a big deal in a world where 46% of hires fail within the first 18 months. Forbes estimates that businesses in the US alone spend over $70 billion per year on hiring. 

As for the resumes coming across your desk, they have likely been chosen by an assistant who has filtered them based on a variety of criteria, including format and font. What?! The last time I checked, there was no correlation between resume design and the ability to sell or lead so your process is removing potentially good candidates based on extremely unscientific methodology.

Your ineffective interviews.

90% of hiring decisions are made from the interview. That seems reasonable until you factor in that traditional interviewing is only 14% accurate when hiring for sales. Remember, salespeople are different from every other role in your business so if you use the same interviewing methodologies you do to hire every other function in your company you are going to get it wrong. And according to the data, you will get it wrong 84% of the time.

With those kinds of odds you may as well ask the magic eight ball who to hire.

Of course you'd never really do that but let's face it, if what you're doing is even remotely similar to what I have outlined above, then you sort of are doing it.

Here's how to know if what you are doing is not working well enough:

  • Your salespeople frequently miss their targets
  • Your sales managers are still selling to "fill in the gaps" (selling is not managing)
  • You don't have enough "A" players
  • Your recruiting process brings in too many of the wrong candidates
  • Recruiting takes up too much time - yours and your team
  • You have too much turnover
  • You have too little turnover
  • You wish you could find more candidates like (fill in the blank)

Getting it wrong is costly.

A single bad hire can cost 3X a new hire's salary and recruiting costs. And when you factor in opportunity costs, the costs are even more staggering for hiring the wrong salespeople and sales leaders. 

But you can change this for yourself. It is possible to fix your sales recruitment problem once and for all. And, while you may not believe this now, it is possible to create an entire team of "A" players.

Leading change takes intentional effort.

It's going to take a good deal of effort and you will have to make some serious changes, but finding more of the ideal candidates who can and will reach more and help more of your prospects solve the problems you solve will be more than worth the effort. And hiring them will cost you a whole lot less than holding onto the salespeople who aren't helping enough of your prospects solve their problems. 

Hiring the strongest and most ideal candidates is the new goal.

The first step in making the switch from hiring those mesmerizingly charming personalities to candidates who can and will exceed your highest expectations, is to make the decision to lead with those high expectations.  Stop accepting less. Stop making and taking excuses for poor performance.

It starts with a decision.

From there, evaluate your hiring process. Evaluate your entire sales organization, your systems, your processes, your methodologies, your people, your leadership, your strategies. All of it. Then take your that data and create an action plan and work the plan. Test each candidate for sales specific skills. (You can try ours for free if you like.) Put only the qualified candidates through the rest of the process because what's the sense of spending valuable time, energy and resources interviewing candidates who don't qualify? Make that process rigorous but fair.

Ask the right questions, get the right data, make the right decisions.

Be my guest for my next sales hiring masterclass.

You can do it. And if you need help, I'm just a phone call (888-929-6335, ext. 701) or an email ([email protected]) away. Thanks for reading and I hope it was helpful. If you enjoyed it, please consider following me. I help CEOs, presidents, and entrepreneurs grow their businesses. In addition to providing tools, and strategies, and consulting for growth, my company, Align Strategic, also recruits sales and sales leadership talent with guaranteed results. If you'd like to connect on Linkedin, please follow us and send me an invitation.

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