Hiring an Effective Sales Professional

Your company is better off without Sales People than with the wrong Sales People.

If this sounds extreme consider that a hiring mistake costs the average Partner between $80,000 – $120,000 in salary & expenses, EXCLUDING the $900,000 (average) of sales opportunities lost over the 9-16 months an organization retains an underperforming revenue (non) contributor.

Given the economic ramifications of an ineffective hire, it is imperative that the candidate selection bears fruit, yet there are a number of factors that complicate and undermine the process:

1. Business owners and inexperienced sales managers don’t know what to look for in a “qualified” candidate beyond a history of selling business applications.


2. There are an abundance of sales professionals whose best sales efforts surface solely during the interview cycle, and whose largest paychecks come in the form of a severance check.


3. There is a belief in the channel that sales professionals coming from tier 1 ERP/CRM providers are better trained and more effective than their channel counterparts; which is not the case.


4. The technology industry is littered with sales professionals that maintain a distorted view of their own capabilities and worth.


5. Buying behavior and buyer psychology have changed radically over the past three years resulting in the need for a radically different candidate profile.


6. Previous accomplishments are not always an indicator of future success.


With evolving buying criteria and an increased focus on business case development, we cannot afford to make the wrong hiring choice.  Sales professionals that cannot secure access to and then develop peer relationships with senior business executives are doomed to a consistent string of 2nd place finishes.

Reading The Resume

The first step in the candidate selection process is identifying high-potential candidates based on their resumes. Building on the “how we do one thing is how we do everything” theme, there are some obvious and glaring show-stoppers that will jump out of the page.

The following show-stoppers should immediately disqualify a candidate:

  • Job-Jumping – Regardless of their stories, candidates that chronically jump from employer to employer every 18 – 24 months are either a flight risk or are underperformers. You want neither.
  • Sales & Marketing – Candidate that claim experience in both sales AND marketing do not possess a clear understanding of the sales discipline and will lack the ferocity and focus of a top producer.
  • Misalignment – Misalignment between historical deals sizes (biggest wins) and capability claims. Highlighting a $340,000 deal is problematic if the candidate will carry a $1,500,000 quota.
  • Grammatical Errors – As goes the resume so goes the proposal. Senior executives have no tolerance for sloppy work and will consciously or unconsciously judge a solution set upon the quality of the written communication an organization produces.
  • Overly Self-Centered – Does the candidate focus exclusively on their own individual strengths and accomplishments or do they reference successful projects and teamwork?

Ironically, terminating a sales professional often has more beneficial economic impact on organizational performance than hiring one. Increasing the quality, duration and depth of due diligence with each candidate will significantly reduce your risk of “being sold”. For further insight into how to avoid hiring the wrong candidate review the Salesworks’Guide To Hiring Sales Professionals, then hire slowly and fire quickly, not the other way around!

Test your existing sales force effectiveness with a Mystery Shopping Service Package for your business. Salesworks will review your current processes and put together an analysis, activities & summary report to help drive prospect engagement.

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George Brown

Insight written by George Brown

Senior Vice President at Rand Group

A thought leader and pioneer in the areas of cloud computing, sales and marketing, George is a highly regarded subject matter expert and leader with over 30 years’ experience in strategically propelling businesses forward.

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