How many sales executives do you know that would enthusiastically rehire all or even most of their incumbent sales people? And feel that each of their sales regions are balanced and strong? There’s no doubt that’s a small number.

Just yesterday we were talking with a prospective client whose salesforce was very inconsistent across their North American geographies. This inconsistency typically results from sales managers valuing different attributes in salespeople. They look for dissimilar qualities and hire based on their own biases, ultimately resulting in too many poor hires. This leads to lost sales, reduced productivity, greater unplanned turnover and more.

How can you hire better sales reps more consistently? Here are a few tips to Sharpen Your Edge:

  • It may sound silly, but understand the role you are hiring for and the skills required to be successful in that role. And interview people that fit the role. Most sales people who fail don’t fail because they can’t sell, but because they are in the wrong role for the natural abilities.
  • Know the difference between skills that differentiate (skills typically present in top performers only) and table stakes skills that are present in both top and bottom performers.
  • Force a consistent interviewing process across all regions. Since the role is the same, the questions that uncover potential and performance for each desired skill should be fairly standardized. This keeps each manager from hiring based on “favorite” questions or skills.
  • Incorporate predictive analytics. Assessments that can identify potential to perform the skills necessary to be a top performer adds clarity and objectivity to what is often a subjective process.
  • Perform thorough background and reference checks. Within the law, make a concerted effort to really understand past performance.
  • Make sure there is good cultural fit. Pretty self-explanatory.

Most sales managers tell us their success rate for hiring successful sales people is less than 50%. Many say less than 40%. That’s painful and costly.  Ensuring consistent hiring practices will yield a much better result!

Don’t lose your Edge – Good luck and good selling!