March 21, 2013

Over the years, we occasionally get pushback from hiring managers who will dismiss a more scientific screening process in favor of their own intuition also referred to as their “golden gut.”

sales-manager-golden-gut-in-hiring-decisionsA hiring manager with a golden gut is confident that he/she can pick candidates that will be successful salespeople through intuition alone, and that he just knows a winner when he sees one.

Unfortunately, we have never seen the golden gut approach to be proven by the numbers.

Inevitably, when we go deeper into the manager’s records it is revealed that the turnover rate is unacceptably high and production is unacceptably low.

Why, then, do hiring managers who rely on their golden guts continue to refuse to add some science to the recruiting mix?


The True Numbers Behind Golden Gut Hiring Decisions

A manager who completely trusts his intuition alone clearly has a bias in place and an unshakeable confidence in his own perception of things . . . sometimes too much.

This overconfidence can cloud a person’s judgement and prevent him from looking at his business objectively.

measure-the-effectiveness-of-gut-instinct-hiring-decisionsWhen this type of ego and bias are active, a sales manager is naturally going to remember and emphasize the recruiting “wins” and dismiss the recruiting failures over time. So even a track record of, say 20% winners and 80% losers is rationalized over time as “part of the business” or just plain dismissed in general.

Now do not get us wrong, intuition is an invaluable element of human relations, and it plays a very important role in hiring people who will have a chance at success in your organization’s unique circumstances and culture.

Unfortunately, that intuition alone cannot get at the underlying personality traits that are necessary for a person to succeed in sales.

Understanding the reality that we are naturally biased as human beings should serve as a fair warning that we need to balance intuition with a scientific diagnostic process, or else we will be setting ourselves up for disappointment or a life of blind delusions.

It is a wonderful asset to have good intuition when it comes to assessing other people. But as Ronald Reagan used to say to Mikhail Gorbachev during their arms negotiations, it is safest to “accept but verify” when the stakes are high.

It may seem like a far-fetched analogy, but the stakes are high when hiring. Remember that you are about to invest heavily in time and money on a prospective salesperson.


Add Some Science to Your Belt

Keep that golden gut in check by belting it with some more scientific means of screening candidates. Consider using other tools, including a sales assessment test, to your hiring process.

A sales assessment test is specifically designed to measure the specific traits all successful salespeople share. These traits include Need for Achievement, Competitiveness and Optimism and collectively are known as Drive. Drive is what separates those that can sell from those that will sell.

The right sales assessment will be backed by years of research and will have a scientific way of measuring Drive. The DriveTest™ is based on more than 80 years of research in the sales sector and uses Forced Choice questions that make it very difficult for candidates to “cheat” or fake the results.

The DriveTest™ will even tell you how successful a candidate will likely be as either a “hunter” or “farmer” salesperson. This will allow you to fill in the gaps on your sales team with less guesswork.


Do Not Just Bait and Switch

We are not recommending that you retire your golden gut completely from the hiring process. It would be unwise to rely solely on one means of evaluation, even a sales assessment test, for hiring.

sales-hiring-toolsRather, you need to combine your intuition with a scientific sales assessment test, along with other screening processes, to get the best possible results.

Ideally, you want to begin your hiring process by performing a thorough resume screening. Check for any red flags that might indicate low-Drive. Some red flags might include job hopping, company size mismatch or typos.

Next, you want to perform a phone interview with your potential candidates to gain clarity and more insight into the information provided on their resumes. Keep the candidate’s resume handy during the call so that you can fact check any answers.

If your candidate manages to get through these two tests, it is time for a third: a sales assessment test.

If the potential sales rep passes the third step, then it is time for the final test, the behavioral interview. Now is the time for your golden gut to shine!

During the face-to-face behavioral interview use your intuition as the candidate answers your questions to determine if they truly are the right high-Drive candidate for your sales team. Be sure to ask questions that are designed to reveal and detect Drive.


Still a Skeptic?

There is no shame in admitting that your intuition needs a little help. As we said earlier, it is human nature to rely on intuition, but a great sales manager will know when his intuition needs to be backed up by a little science. After all, according to Peter Drucker, famed management consultant, hiring decisions are the most important career choices you will make as a sales manager.

If you are still not a believer, why not try taking a sales assessment yourself? We offer a free trial of our sales assessments. Feel free to put our science to the test! The DriveTest™ only takes about 30 minutes to complete, so why not give it a try?


Our Products:

The DriveTest™ is specifically designed for pre-employment purposesadd-a-quality-sales-assessment-to-your-hiring-process and will help you determine the level of Drive your potential hires possess.

The Production Builder© is uniquely designed to test existing members of your sales team, giving you insight into how strong your team is and what areas need improvement. You might also use The Production Builder© to identify pairs of hunters and farmers that would work well together.