How to Avoid Hiring a Bad Salesperson

We’ve all heard of the customer from hell, but some of us end up hiring a salesperson from the same place. Of course, none of us sets out to hire the wrong person, but occasionally it happens that we end up with the salesperson from hell. This is the person who looked good and sounded good during the brief hiring process but ends up either not performing or wreaking havoc within the organization.

Some of these people aren’t the salesperson from hell, they’re just non-performers. Their references often check out because their former employers still like them and don’t want to give them a poor recommendation.

This can happen when you don’t take the time to hire smart and you try to plug a round peg into a square hole. When this type of mismatch occurs, grief follows and takes the form of:

  • lost and missed opportunities
  • unhappy or lost clients
  • wasted time
  • demoralized staff
  • lost money
  • …and more

Many managers, in an attempt to either save time or money, have no formal hiring process in place. This is often a false economy and may result in the hiring of an unsuitable candidate.

By the time you’ve figured out that the person isn’t going to work out, too much time and money has been wasted. This is time and money that could be better used impacting your bottom line in a more profitable manner.

No one leaves the starting post at full trot. It can take a new salesperson, even a seasoned one, several months to a year to ramp up and become productive. You can usually tell pretty quickly if you have a winner, but it could take upwards to a year before you decide you have a non-performer. That’s yet another reason to spend the time to hire smart instead of hiring quick.

Staff turnover can be a financial black hole. Whether you fire poor performers, or they leave on their own, they have to be replaced. This means running expensive recruitment ads, spending time interviewing and doing reference checks, providing training, and many other time- and money-consuming activities.

Using a sales assessment test can improve your hiring odds and help you avoid costly hiring mistakes.

Three Criteria for Assessing Candidates

There’s no foolproof way of finding top sales performers. Generally speaking, your best indicator of future sales success is past sales success. If a candidate is new to sales or you can’t confirm past sales successes, hiring the person will be a bit of a crap shoot.

When hiring a salesperson, you are basically looking for three things:

Ability: Can the person do the job?
Character: Does the person have the drive, desire, and discipline?
Temperament: How will the person do the job?

A well executed interview process can usually help you find the answers to the first two qualities.

For example, our Hiring Interview Toolkit, includes a generic mini-sales quiz and sales simulation to help determine if someone actually knows how to sell along with sets of behavioural-type interview questions.

Assessing the Third Ingredient for Selling Success

The third ingredient for selling success – temperament – is harder to assess and that’s where a sales assessment can help.

There are a number of good sales assessments on the market that don’t cost an arm and a leg. And our Sales Temperament Assessment was one of them.

Our assessment differed from some other sales tests in that it measures the basic temperamental qualities that make up a successful salesperson, which are:

  • Competitiveness
  • Sociability
  • Drive
  • Independence

It also gives insight into the types of selling the candidate is going to be most comfortable doing. In other words, the job fit. A good job fit means a happier salesperson and happy salespeople sell more than unhappy ones.

What Kind of Salesperson Are You Hiring?

An assessment allows you to peek under the covers and see what kind of salesperson the candidate is going to be.

Will he be a Hunter, Farmer, Shopkeeper, Repairman, or Handyman? You don’t want to hire a Farmer if you really need a Hunter, and you certainly don’t want to hire a Hunter if the position requires a Shopkeeper.

These are some of the things you want to find out before you hire someone, not after.

Assessments Are Not a Silver Bullet

As they say, if the only tool you have is a hammer, then every problem looks like a nail. It’s the same when you’re hiring someone.

If your only tool is an interview, that’s what you’re going to use, good or bad. A sales assessment should be just one more tool in your hiring toolkit.

The Bottom Line

No one deliberately sets out to make a bad hire and yet bad salespeople keep getting hired. Make sure you don’t hire the salesperson from hell. Use all the tools at your disposal to avoid this and hire smart.