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Top 10 Sales Management Mistakes

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Successfully hiring and managing salespeople are two of the most important things you will do as a sales manager.

Here are ten sales management mistakes and misconceptions and how you can avoid them.

Top Sales Hiring Mistakes and Misconceptions

1. I have a golden gut.

A sales candidate is typically on their best behavior during the interview. They want to portray themselves as personable and motivated to succeed.

After all, they want to get hired for your open position.

And this may cause you to feel like “Wow, I just know in my gut that this person will be a good salesperson.”

However, more often than not, the interview will be the best performance you see from them.

This is because Drive is easy to fake and anyone can be likeable for a short period of time. The problem is, this does not tell you if your candidates have the real ability to sustain high performance in the tough world of sales.

So, it is critical for businesses to implement a scientific hiring process. That is a process that consists of a sales assessment and a well-conducted behavioral interview to get past the candidate’s initial impression and at what is really under the surface.

The combination of a powerful sales-specific assessment and a well-conducted behavioral interview will give you the insight needed to make a well-informed decision based on objective aptitude data and past performance and not just subjective intuition.

Now, gut instinct is not all bad. It can be great when determining a person’s culture fit. You just should not solely base your hiring decisions on it.

2. A sales presentation during an interview predicts success.

A sales presentation during the interview can tell you if your candidate did their homework, is able to put together and deliver a presentation and how well they communicate.

But what the presentation will not tell you is if the candidate will be able to consistently bring in new business for your company.

A sales presentation will show you if the candidate can sell, not if they will sell. It is important to know the difference.

3. Salespeople from big companies are better.

Small to medium-sized companies and/or manager’s hiring their first salesperson commonly think that if they just hire a salesperson from a large company, surely they will be successful.

This is not always the case.

It is important to first ask yourself:

  • What lead to the salesperson’s success at that company?
  • Was this candidate relying on a well-known brand and lots of collateral materials?
  • And was this candidate going out and sourcing new business or simply closing warm leads brought in organically by the brand’s reach and reputation?

Instead of assuming a salesperson with experience at a large company is the best hiring choice for you, consider:

  • Looking for candidates that have two to three years of sales experience, to ensure they know the selling basics.
  • Experience selling for a company that is similar in size to your company, so you know they are familiar with and understand the challenges that selling for a smaller company might present.
  • And lastly, when looking for someone to hit the ground running from day one, you need to only consider candidates who score a four or five on Drive.

A highly-Driven individual with two to three years’ experience at a similarly sized company will be much more likely to sell successfully for you than a salesperson from a large company.

4. Churn and burn is the best approach to hiring.

As a hiring manager, you may have been disappointed one too many times, that you have given up hope on finding and hiring the right salespeople; concluding that churning and burning through salespeople is the best approach for your company.

But this is a dangerous approach and here’s why.

The effects of an underperformer or downright bad salesperson are far greater than most people realize.

A bad salesperson has a ripple effect on a company. It is much like throwing a stone in a lake.

Their presence and lack of performance could be negatively affecting your client relationships, your company culture and your bottom line.

And your existing problems are only going to get worse if the position is filled with an underperforming salesperson.

So, although, it takes a little bit more time upfront to develop and implement a strategic hiring process, the payoff is far greater than the risk.

Waiting for interview

Top Sales Management Mistakes and Misconceptions

5. Anyone can be trained to hunt.

In order to be a successful “Hunter” salesperson, your candidate needs Drive.

Drive is the non-teachable characteristic that research shows is the most important factor for sales success.

And Drive consists of three traits that cannot be taught or changed past the age of 21-22.

  • Need for Achievement: The inner desire to do well, just for the sake of doing well.
  • Competitiveness: The natural push to want to outperform their teammates and win over the customer.
  • Optimism: The ability to handle rejection as merely a part of the process and move on the next sales with confidence and certainty that they will succeed.

Now selling behaviors can be shown to anyone but that does not mean they will engage in those behaviors.

Additionally, research shows that only about 20% of the population is high in Drive. So, chances are many of your “Hunter” salespeople are not truly high producers and would likely be more successful in a different role.

The difference between a salesperson who can sell and a salesperson who absolutely will sell, and sell successfully, is Drive.

6. Money is every salesperson’s top need.

A common belief among sales managers is “I need to hire a salesperson who is motivated by money?”

But when you look to hire someone with external financial pressures – like a mortgage, car payment, student loan debt – there will inevitably come a time when those pressures are relieved.

Then, you will be left thinking, “This salesperson has sold successfully before, I have seen them do it. So, what happened?”

When you hire someone motivated by money, they will eventually figure out what they need to do to hit their goals and then they will maintain that level of production going forward. They will flat line.

That is why it is much more important that you hire salespeople based on their core personality traits and not their current motivations.

High-Drive salespeople look at sales as points on the score board. They will never be ok with hitting a certain number and quitting. They will keep pushing to increase that score day-in and day-out.

7. A motivational speaker can increase my team’s Drive.

As mentioned before, Drive is the non-teachable personality trait shared among successful “Hunter” salespeople.

At an early age, Drive is a mixture of nature and nurture. Someone with high-Drive is born with consciousness. This is hardwired at birth. But Drive is further developed through how someone is raised. They are held accountable for their behaviors and given responsibilities to uphold as a child. (Think household chores or being discipline in learning to play an instrument.)

However, past the age of 21-22, this trait is set in stone and cannot be altered.

So, thinking a motivational speaker will increase your team’s Drive is wishful thinking.

A motivational speaker may boost immediate performance for a day or two but overtime your sales team will resort back to normal behavior.

Think of it this way…. a motivational speaker can give your sales team a treasure map to find the treasure, but they cannot go out and actually dig it up for them.

If you are looking to help your sales team improve, consider bringing in a skills trainer instead. This person can assess the team’s current skills and help them improve from there.

8. A great salesperson will make a great sales manager.

Many sales execs want to give their high-performing salespeople a sense of career progression, so they promote them to sales managers.

The thought being if they were successful as a salesperson, surely they will be successful as a sales manager.

But assuming the transition from top salesperson to great sales manager is hazardous.

Your top salespeople are good at bringing in new business themselves. As a sales manager, they are now reliant on the success of others.

This makes top-performing salespeople miserable. They are no longer in control of their success. They have to manage others that may or may not have the same level of ambition or dedication to sales as they do and chances are, they will face a salary cut (no more commissions).

So before you promote one of your best salespeople to a sales management position, know that sales management require an entirely different skill set and personality than typical sales positions.

Top Sales Assessment Misconceptions

9. Generalized personality tests are sufficiently predictive of sales performance.

Measuring someone’s overall personality can be important and is ok to look at when hiring in other roles.

But when looking to hire “Hunter” salespeople, aka new business developers, you need to be using a sales-specific assessment.

The best sales assessments are calibrated specifically for sales, are measuring the personality traits that will impact sales performance and are validated using salespeople.

Additionally, more general assessments or broad personality tests tend to have questions that are written in a way that are easy for candidates to figure out what the company is looking for and answer favorably.

An example of this type of question might read “I am personable. Rate this from 1 (not personable) to 5 (very personable).” How do you think the candidate is going to respond?

More challenging sales assessment, use a question format called forced-choice. These questions ask the candidate to pick a statement that is most like them and a statement that is least like them from three equally positive sounding statements. This makes the assessment much more difficult for a candidate to fake.

When looking to fully understand your candidate’s true intentions you need to be using a sales-specific assessment with a forced-choice format.

The DriveTest® sales assessment checks all of these boxes. Assess your first candidate today for free by requesting a free DriveTest® trial.

10. A cheap assessment is good enough.

A common misconception about assessments is how much they should really cost.

In doing research, you will find that assessment prices vary drastically. Some assessments are priced at $20 or $50 but keep in mind many of these assessments are your more generalized personality tests.

When shopping for an assessment it is important that you remember it is just like buying anything else . . . you get what you pay for.

Your broader personality tests are going to be at the cheaper end of the scale.

Your scientifically validated assessment, that look specifically at sales personality traits and sales role types, are going to be a bit more expensive to produce, so the price will reflect that.

Premium cars come with premium prices tags because of the work it took to build them. A well-constructed assessment is the same way and will likely sport a price tag around a few hundred dollars.

Now, while the price of the assessment is important, the bigger question is: What is the cost of hiring a bad salesperson?

With the cost of hiring a bad salesperson averaging around $50,000, your company cannot afford to take the cheap route with its assessment choice.

Safeguard your company from wasting thousands on an underperforming salesperson by taking the initial steps in the beginning of the hiring process to implement a sales-specific assessment.

In Closing

Hiring and managing salespeople can be difficult but you do not have to make things worse for yourself by following these management misconceptions.

It all starts with hiring the right talent and we are here to help.

Discover whether your sales candidates have the Drive necessary to succeed in sales and implement a strategic hiring process at your company today with SalesDrive.

Sales Hiring Simplified!

Hire top-performing salespeople with The DriveTest®. Get started now with one free test.

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