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Talent & Recruitment
Tired of Hiring Bad Salespeople?
Jan 27, 2014 | Colleen Stanley lock

You may have seen this movie before.  In fact, you might have landed the starring role in the film titled, ‘Bad Hire, Bad Life.’  The plot is not a new one.    Sales manager hires a new salesperson and has high hopes that ‘this is the one.’  The resume was good and the interview even better. This salesperson is going to be a self-starter, team player and quota achiever. 

Then reality sets in as the new salesperson “unpacks his bags.”  The sales manager starts to hear a plethora of excuses for not making quota, all of which has nothing to do with personal performance:   

• “I need more and/or better leads.”   
• “I could win some deals if our pricing was more competitive.”
• “Our marketing collateral is not good.”  
• “If only…..(feel free to add your personal favorite to the list.)

The sales manager, desiring to be a good leader gets to work.  She spends time and money on search engine optimization, revamping pricing strategies, and updating marketing collateral.  Nothing changes and the sales manager reluctantly admits to hiring another dud.  This movie doesn’t have a happy ending. 

So how can you make a movie with a happy ending?  Rewrite the script and review your hiring process. There is a good chance that your candidates past experience doesn’t translate to future success at your organization. 

For example, your recent dud salesperson actually did well at his old company—he wasn’t fudging sales results on his resume.  However, a big reason for his success was because his former company provided him leads.  They had a robust inside sales department and marketing department.  Your new hire is a great producer---once the lead is generated. 

Your company, on the other hand, requires the salesperson to source and generate his own leads.  The glaring gap in your hiring process is that you are hiring salespeople with no prior experience in lead generation.   

So, how do you identify this hiring gap?  Design and ask good interview questions such as, “Tell me about the last five sales you made at your former company.  How was the opportunity created?”  Listen closely to see if the lead was generated by the salesperson or the company.   

Here’s another common gap in the hiring process.  Your new hire is complaining that she is losing business because the company’s prices are too high.   Now remember, this salesperson did well at her last company.  So what’s the reason she’s not producing for your organization?  

You didn’t ask how she won the business.  Her former company sold on price, not value.  She doesn’t know how to sell on value, not price.  She is a transactional salesperson.   

To identify this potential gap, ask questions during the interview process such as, “How were your products and services positioned in the market?  Were you the high price, medium or low price provider?”  Listen carefully to determine how the sale was really made.  Was it superior selling skills or low price that closed the business?   

Let’s address the second problem featured in this bad movie: You!  Sales managers to hang on to non-performing salespeople for too long.    

The reasons are many; however, the number one reason is generally because there are no specific metrics for success established.  It’s difficult to figure out if the new hire is on track or not. 

For example, most sales organizations bring on a new hire and have vague expectations around prospecting. “We want you to attend some networking events, do some email prospecting, some cold calling and meet with some potential referral partners.”  Some is not a number and can’t be measured.  (Can you imagine running your accounting department this way?  “We have some money in the bank.  We have some profit dropping to the bottom line.”)

You get what you expect so get specific about your expectations for success. 
“We expect you to attend 4 networking events a month, send 10 targeted emails each week to new prospects, make 10 cold calls each day, meet with two potential strategic partners each week, make five client retention calls a week and host a quarterly ‘lunch and learn’ for prospects and clients. That activity should lead to “X” amount of first appointments and “X” amount of closed business each month.”   Set and track expectations for success.      

You’ve got systems and processes for everything else at your company.  Get a system for hiring “A” players.  It’s time for you to star in a new movie called ‘Top Sales Guns.’    

About the Author
Colleen Stanley is president of SalesLeadership Inc., a business development consulting firm specializing in sales and sales management training. The company provides programs in prospecting, referral strategies, consultative sales training, sales management training, emotional intelligence and hiring/selection. She is the author of ‘Emotional Intelligence For Sales Success’ and ‘Growing Great Sales Teams.’ Reach Colleen at 303.708.1128 or visit www.salesleadershipdevelopment.com.

This article was originally featured as a blog post on Salesleadershipdevelopment.com, and has been reproduced with permission.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are strictly those of the author. CPSA does not endorse any of the companies, products and services mentioned within this article

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