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The Fatal Mistake Companies Make When Hiring Salespeople

There are lots of sales organizations and sales executives who believe that when hiring salespeople, prior experience in an industry, a specific marketplace or with a certain product is the main reason for hiring or not hiring a salesperson.  Worse yet, they're hiring salespeople because of their "contact list."

That's just not accurate thinking.

It is, instead, being held hostage by a false premise that your shiny new hire will bring a lot of deals and experience that will guarantee quick time-to-productivity, minimal hand-holding, shorter orientation, etc.

There are lots or reasons behind why this premise isn't true.  For example:

  • There is a presumption that the person’s previous industry experience was a positive, productive one, or
  • There is an assumption that the person in question actually possesses a high-level of motivation, drive and selling skills, or
  • There is a belief that the person is available due to circumstances over which they had no control (downsizing, etc.) rather than due to average or below performance.

The diagram below explains the breakdown of capacities that drive sales performance.

  • indepth2Job Skills – Product and marketplace knowledge to include experience in an industry.
  • Sales Skills – Those capacities related to a person’s capacity to understand and apply state-of-the-art selling skills relative to appropriate levels of prospecting, selling and account management functions.
  • Personal Skills – Those individual capacities that determine a person’s ability to implement the job and sales skills they possess.  These are attributes like self-starting capacity, self management, personal motivation, consistency and literally scores of other, essential skills.

Even a cursory look will show you that job, product or marketplace knowledge are only 1/3 of what is required, while sales and personal skills comprise a full 2/3.  However, it is even more dramatic than that.

Hiring Salespeople: The Sales Performance Quotient

Over the years we have developed a formula that looks like this:

(Job Skills + Sales Skills) x Personal Skills = Sales Performance Quotient

Let’s take a look at an example with a scale of 1-10 with 10 being excellent and 1 being poor.  In this case, you have a candidate who has extensive product, industry and marketplace experience.  Therefore, you will give that person a score of 10 on job skills.  That same person, however, has sales skills of 5 and personal skills of only 4.  Here is what that person looks like in our formula.

(10 + 5) x 4 = 60

Let’s look at another person whose job skills are only a 3 while that person’s sales skills are 8 and personal skills are a 9.  Here is that person’s score:

(3 + 8) x 9 = 99

Simply put, personal skills are the multiplier of performance.  Product knowledge, job or sales skills are things that can be taught, learned or acquired.  Sales skills can be learned intellectually and eventually honed through experience and face-to-face interaction with large numbers of prospects and customers and in-the-field coaching.  Personal skills are a unique combination of personal attributes, values, talents and experience.  They, too, can be learned, coached, mentored, taught and honed through in-depth experience.  However, the capacity to identify someone’s fundamental predisposition to possess these characteristics is where the magic comes in.

The good news is that sales skills and personal skills can both be measured and assessed.  That is especially good news since they are the real drivers of personal performance on an individual-by-individual basis.

Our research indicates that only 41% of senior sales leaders have absolute confidence in their organization's ability to attract and hire top sales talent.  Click here to learn how you can leverage our TriMetrix® assessment process to "look under the hood" before making another mistake when hiring salespeople.

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