Every company tries its best to recruit, interview and vet salespeople before hiring them. But way too many bad salespeople still get through, jump on the payroll and do not produce.
As Seinfeld might say, “What’s up with that?”
It is all too common to hire bad salespeople. Unfortunately, this is more than just a hassle.
The time spent training and working with incompetent salespeople costs your company money. Bad salespeople can also tank the productivity of others, and the good members of your team may have to teach these bad salespeople how to perform better.
Since many of these bad hires simply cannot be taught to produce, this is detrimental to your bottom line in more ways than one.
The best way to avoid these problems is to stop hiring incompetent salespeople. Unfortunately, this is impossible when you do not know how they are getting through in the first place.
So why do bad salespeople get hired? What can you do to replace them?
There are a multitude of reasons why so many bad salespeople get hired, but here are six common ones:
1. Only a small percentage of the population can really sell.
A good salesperson makes sales seem easy. This does not mean selling is actually simple, though.
The ability to make a sale comes from a combination of personality factors and experience – and most folks do not make the cut. However, this does not stop anyone from applying to be a salesperson. There are simply not enough good salespeople to go around.
2. The profession attracts inexperienced people.
Many sales jobs do not require a particular kind of degree or a lot of experience. Some jobs by nature attract people who are not seeking a particular industry or kind of work, but just need a job. A salesperson role is one of those positions.
There is nothing wrong with being willing to take any kind of job to pay the bills; most of us have been in that situation at one time or another.
Unfortunately, this is not good news for your business. There is typically a “diamond in the rough,” though, in any group of applicants. Finding that person in a sea of inexperienced candidates is no easy process.
3. People lie on their resumes.
It has become common practice to put a few small deceptions on your resume, and even successful businesspeople are known to climb the ladder by lying on their resumes.
While some fibs are easy to spot, particularly the big ones, more savvy applicants know where to place a small twist to get them ahead. Being on the other end of the hiring process makes this practice frustrating.
4. There are no real certifications involved.
A lawyer needs to go to law school and pass the bar to practice. CPAs need to pass a rigorous exam to earn that designation.
But not salespeople. They can claim they have produced and will produce, but it is 100% up to us to try to get to truth without the benefit of any licensing, designations or (in most cases) specific academic degrees in sales.
5. They talk a good game.
It is relatively easy for a candidate to give one great pitch in the sales interview. However, interviewing well is a completely different skill than being a good employee.
A successful salesperson must deliver sustainably good performance over time – and the ones who interview well are often unable to do so.
6. Vague expectations.
Many companies hire salespeople and do not have good practices for determining their performance. Vague expectations yield subpar results.
Sometimes, the difference between a high-performing salesperson and an incompetent one is the goals they are presented with.
Being a good boss is as important as having a good team. When working with your salespeople, give them specific criteria to meet. This allows you to more quickly determine competence. It also helps salespeople perform better, as they clearly know what is expected of them.
How Do You Hire the Right Salespeople Then?
Let’s face it; we get fooled.
Maybe we run out of patience, or perhaps we are just optimists who have the urge to hire someone who sounds right. Trouble is, once a bad salesperson is on board, it requires much more time, energy and money to deal with the situation than being rigorous and patient before hiring.
Hiring too many incompetent salespeople can mean a big problem for your company’s bottom line, given the amount of time and money required to manage even a single team member who cannot or will not perform.
Like all technology, today’s sales tests are getting better and better. Tons of data is now being poured into great research on matching personality types and skill sets to job positions. There is absolutely no reason to fly blind or to accept mediocrity when hiring salespeople.
Find an online sales assessment you like, follow up with focused and related behavioral interview questions and be patient. If you do, you will be well on your way to hiring a world-class sales team!