Stop Hiring Poor-Performing Salespeople

Nobody deliberately sets out to hire salespeople who can’t or won’t perform. But it happens, and it happens more that you might expect. In fact, in my view it happens far too often.

I’ve certainly done my share of hiring what I thought was going to be a real barn burner, only to discover that he or she couldn’t start a BBQ, even an electric one!

In one of my earlier articles, “Luck is Not a Hiring Tool,” I pointed out that most of us would have had just as good a hiring record if we had simply flipped a coin instead of taking all that time sifting through resumes, interviewing, etc.

Improving the Odds

Nowadays, 50/50 odds are simply not good enough. We need a way to improve the odds. Using a sales assessment tool is one of the things that can help. Another way is to understand the three main reasons why the next salesperson you hire is likely to be a poor performer.

Let’s explore these three pitfalls.

Reason #1: Can’t Sell
Sometimes the only thing some salespeople can sell is themselves and they’re good at doing it. These folks will sell you on hiring them by telling you what you want to hear and what they will do for you and your company.

They are charming, likeable, outgoing, pleasant folks, with a genuine affinity for people. They get along well with others. These are the people whose grade school report card always had the notation from the teacher reading, “plays well with others.”

They’re often good talkers, and that’s the problem. Too much talk, too little results.

Because these people are so likeable, once you hire them, you’ll find it hard to cut your losses and let them go. Before it’s over, you’ll probably end up investing too much time and money trying to get results.

Chances are you may already have one or two of them on your sales team now.

These people have their place but if you need sales results, choose someone else.

Reason #2: Wrong Sales Environment
Then there’s the salesperson who has great credentials and a good track record but in another field. Beware! Just because the person was successful selling in another field doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll work out well in your sales environment. That’s because not every salesperson is good at selling everything.

The key for both the potential employer (you) and the salesperson is to realize that there are differences in selling environments and to know who fits where. Once you’ve done that, you have a better fit between the person and the position which improves the odds of making a successful hire.

Here are a few examples of what I mean:

The gal who’s great at selling tangible products may fail miserably when forced to sell intangibles and vice versa. It’s simply not her bag. It’s a person to position mismatch.

The guy who is great at making cold calls and opening new accounts may be poor at developing long-term relationships and getting more business from existing accounts. Yet another example of the wrong person for the position (or is it the right person in the wrong job)!

And then there’s the gal who’s loved by her existing customers but can’t find new business for love or money.

That’s because these people are in the wrong sales environment, selling the wrong things. You’ve got a square peg in a round hole and trying to pound a square, or oval, peg into a round hole damages both the peg and the hole.

A good sales assessment test will help you identify the square (and oval) pegs.

Reason #3: Won’t Sell
Finally, there are the people who simply shouldn’t be in sales at all but they get hired anyway. What usually happens is the sales manager is desperate to fill a sales position and this person has come along. It’s a matter of the wrong person being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

They are like a fish out of water. They flop around gasping for breath until they either die or move on. Even with proper training, these people will succeed only by forcing themselves to do the job. And you know how well that works. Selling is hard enough when you enjoy it!

No matter what training, coaching, and support you provide to these people, they just don’t seem to get it. They try hard but will never really get out of the starting block despite all your efforts.

Left alone, these people usually survive about a year before moving along to another unsuspecting company. In the meantime, you’ve been picking up the tab for their compensation, expenses, and lost potential business.

Any hiring tool that will help you identify these people before you hire them is worth exploring.

Been There, Done That

If you’re a bit long in the tooth like me or have had too much sales management experience, you can probably think back over your previous hires and identify people who fall into one of the three reasons we hire poor performers. I certainly can.

Bottom Line

There is no need to buy the “I Hired a Dud” t-shirt. Save your money and spend it on something that will help you make better hires. That way you’ll build even stronger sales teams. What’s more… your bottom line will thank you.