6 Common Mistakes in the Sales Hiring Process

6 Common Mistakes in the Sales Hiring Process

Is lack of sales results, more sales training costs, months of
unearned salary and damage to your company’s image or
reputation your company’s method of NOT finding good
salespeople? For most companies it is!

The “trial and error” method of hiring salespeople is very
costly to a business. Without a viable way to hire quality
sales people everyone in the same organization is negatively
affected. Without revenues there often are not adequate human
and financial resources to best service customers or grow the

“Sales” Pays the Bills

If you’re a seasoned business owner or a manager of a business,
you learn that sales fixes most business problems … in other
words, when sales revenues are strong, you can more afford to
make business mistakes or throw more money at any number of
business problems. However, when sales are down you cannot
afford any level of unnecessary incremental cost.

Zig Ziglar, the famous sales trainer, once said, “Sales people
are really the only people in business who pay the bills!” For
vital, revenue generating positions like sales, businesses
cannot afford a trial and error method of finding quality
sales personnel.

Show Me the Way!

Hiring quality employees has always been a major challenge for
any business owner or manager. Hiring mistakes are common no
matter the business function and most are directly attributed
to six fundamental hiring mistakes:

1) Assuming the hiring manager knows how to qualify people

Being able to effectively interview and qualify people, like
any other skill is not an innate talent. Some people are
better than others at assessing hire candidate’s potential. As
a hiring manager you must seek others perspectives of
candidates and establish an interview team for each open
position, than collectively discuss each candidate for optimum

2) Not defining EXACTLY what you are looking for in a new hire

The adage: “If you don’t know what you want you’ll never get
it” applies in hiring salespeople. When you establish an
interview team, document a comprehensive job description with
duties and responsibilities clearly defined for each interview
team member. Be sure to list desirable talents, skills and
areas of knowledge. If you want multiple perspectives on
candidate traits or experiences, have each person focus on a
limited number of desired skill sets.

3) Assuming specific business functions know how to hire “like”


Do sales people best know how to hire other sales people? Not
necessarily! Just because someone is capable in a specific job
function does not mean they know how to hire people with the
same level of talent.

4) Over emphasizing a hire candidate’s personality or “looks”

This one is obvious, but, one of the most common hiring

5) Not effectively checking previous employment references

If you consistently miss critical insights into a salesperson’s
capabilities, motivations or character prior to hire, it is
generally because you chose not to or did not effectively
investigate a candidate’s previous employment history. Given
the potential cost of a poor hiring mistake, it makes
financial sense to spend a nominal amount of money and have a
professional check out a candidate’s references.

6) Hiring in your own likeness

Everyone likes to hire people who either have their same;
background, education, philosophies, interests, motivations or
friends, but, more often than not, this is a major mistake.
Sales team diversity is critical to long term sales success.

If your organization can establish an effective program to
evaluate potential new sales personnel on a probationary basis
you can also significantly reduce your hire risks. Establish a
legal document whereby the candidate and your company mutually
agree to a 4 to 6 month “mutual evaluation period”. Define
upfront all position performance metrics for the candidate and
a clear financial remuneration to be paid if they do not meet
the performance thresholds. Be sure this agreement is written
by a qualified attorney. If the “honeymoon” is wonderful,
there is a good chance the marriage is going to be a success!

Organizations have a shared responsibility to hire the best
selling talent possible. Whether you seek experienced sales
people or “rookies” with just energy and attitude, a
disciplined approach to PRE-qualifying tomorrow’s sales
superstar is paramount. If you cannot find quality sales
people, don’t compromise!

By John Vaughan

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