May 17, 2016

Hiring the right sales team is critical to the success of any business.

Just one bad hire could result in lower morale in the sales department, financial losses due to extra training and other negative consequences. On top of that, if you find yourself frequently hiring salespeople who end up leaving the company quickly, you will have to deal with the high costs of employee turnover.

So what can you do to avoid making serious mistakes during the hiring process?

Read on to find out how you can build a strong sales team and feel more confident in every hiring decision you make.


9 Common Mistakes Managers Make When Hiring Salespeople

1. Talking too much during the interview

As the hiring manager, you may feel tempted to spend most of the interview telling a candidate all about your company.

While it is good to make sure the candidate is well-informed and understands what it is like to work at your company, you should never talk more than he does. Make sure the candidate has plenty of time to answer your questions and elaborate on his answers as much as needed.


2. Failing to use the right hiring tools

Hiring tools like sales personality tests and assessments can help you make better decisions every time you need to hire a new salesperson.

Sales assessments eliminate the guesswork in hiring and reveal exactly what you need to know about each candidate. For example, The DriveTest™ assesses the 3 non-teachable traits that Driven salespeople possess:

  • Need for Achievement
  • Competitiveness
  • Optimism

Since Drive is the #1 indicator of a top performer in the sales department, it is easy to see how this test could help you build a strong sales team and pay for itself in the form of high-performing new hires.


3. Asking the wrong interview questions

You may be familiar with the saying, “By failing to plan, you are planning to fail.”

That certainly applies to the sales interview process. If you do not prepare the right interview questions ahead of time, there is a good chance that you will fail to hire the right salesperson.
Here are some examples of questions you can ask to uncover a candidate’s potential:

  • “What motivates you to succeed in sales?” While money is a good motivator for salespeople, it should not be a salesperson’s only motivator. Listen for signs that the candidate is passionate about his/her job.
  • “Can you describe a time you overcame a major obstacle at work?” It is a good idea to hire salespeople who are resilient and optimistic – they will be able to bounce back from sales challenges quickly.
  • “What is your process for handling customer objections?” Asking this will allow you to get an idea of the candidate’s sales process and determine whether it is effective.

Read this blog post to learn more about these questions and discover 7 more questions you should ask each candidate during the sales interview process.


4. Only conducting an in-person interview

Think about it – your salespeople need to know how to talk to customers on the phone if they want to sell effectively. What better way to learn about their phone skills than for you to give them a call?

On top of that, a quick phone interview can save you from wasting your time at an in-person interview with a candidate who is a poor fit for your sales team. That way, you can spend more time interviewing strong candidates and make better hiring decisions.


5. Failing to get a second opinion on the candidate

When you are the only person who interviews a candidate, you may make a biased decision and hire him solely because you enjoyed his personality. This mistake is common among sales hiring managers – likely because salespeople know how to sell themselves in an interview and make a great first impression, regardless of whether or not they are actually a good fit for the job.

To combat this issue, bring in someone else who can give you a second opinion on the candidate. For best results, you may want to get a second opinion from someone whose personality and preferences differ from yours. That way, you can consider the other person’s feedback and use it to help you build a strong sales team.


6. Focusing on the wrong candidate attributes

Think about it – which of the following candidates would you hire?

  • A salesperson who does not seem Driven but has a flawless resume and years of experience
  • A salesperson who is clearly Driven but does not have relevant experience

If you would hire the first candidate, you should reconsider your approach to building a strong sales team.

Remember, Drive is the #1 indicator of a salesperson who can achieve top results and it cannot be taught. However, anyone can gain relevant industry knowledge and basic sales techniques with proper practice and training. That is why you must prioritize Drive over any other candidate attribute.

On top of that, you should not automatically assume that a strong, outgoing personality is indicative of sales skills – introverts can be just as good as (or better than) extroverts at selling.


7. Failing to take culture fit into account

All too often, hiring managers fall into the trap of hiring a candidate who meets every requirement other than culture fit. That is a mistake and it often results in the candidate leaving the company, which contributes to the high cost of employee turnover.

To build a strong sales team, make sure you are upfront about the company culture with every salesperson you hire. That way, you can accurately gauge whether or not they will be the right fit.
Sure, you may lose some potential candidates this way, but those candidates probably would have left the company on their own soon after being hired anyway.


8. Failing to check candidate references

Checking a candidate’s references is necessary. Doing so can mean the difference between a good hiring decision and a bad one.

A reference will be able to tell you what it is like to work with the candidate in ways that you may not be able to uncover during an interview alone.

Make sure you check the references yourself and avoid allowing an assistant or anyone else to handle it for you. The hassle will be well worth the ability to find out what you need to know about a candidate.


9. Failing to track and change the hiring process when necessary

Chances are, there is some aspect of your hiring process that can be improved. That is why you must analyze your current process to determine what is working and what is not.

Do not be afraid to try different ways of changing your sales hiring process for the better – especially if you are stuck in a pattern of hiring low-performing salespeople. Once you figure out the best hiring process for your company, you should be able to choose better salespeople for your team and improve your overall sales as a result.