10 Blatant Mistakes CEOs Must Fix To Consistently Hire Top Performing Sales Teams

Most CEOs want to know how to hire top performing salespeople for their companies. What they often fail to realize is that what's getting in their way is their own sales managers and HR professionals who, although well intentioned, are guilty of egregious sales hiring mistakes that are costing them to forfeit the very best sales talent for each role and instead to settle for mediocre and ill-fitting sales mis-hires.

If you want a consistently high performing sales team, you must help your managers and HR professionals fix these problems. And to do that, you must be able to help them see that following along with the status quo and continuing to do what they were taught to do in the past is what's killing their effectiveness.

Here are the biggest mistakes you and your people are making that are keeping you from having a top performing sales team:

  1. Your job posting fails to attract enough candidates. A sound sales recruitment strategy must include a plan to get a critical mass of good candidates into the pipeline. That starts with a compelling posting that reaches enough of candidates to create a quality pool. Get enough eyeballs on your ad to give you the opportunity to select from several qualified candidates.
  2. Your job posting fails to attract the right candidates.  Speaking of qualified candidates, you are likely guilty of the "look alike" job posting trap  which fails to differentiate your unique sales job postings from the vast sea of job postings sales candidates must wade through to find their perfect selling role. Most sales job postings all say the same things.  They tout your company, your position, the benefits you offer, and they look and read exactly like every other sales job posting on the internet. Differentiate meaningfully or you'll continue draft ill-fitting sales candidates.
  3. You wait too long to test your candidates' sales skills.  If you are even thinking about an objective measure of the necessary sales skills your candidates must have to consistently meet their targets, you are ahead of most, but don't pat yourself on the back just yet. One of the single biggest reasons CEOs like you don't have markedly better sales outcomes is because you and your team have cognitive biases that convince you to select and hire candidates that will fail because you like some aspect of their personality or looks or background. If you wait too long to put your sales candidates through a skills test, you will fall prey to your emotions and continue hiring candidates who look the part but who can't or won't do their part. Knock it off!
  4. You believe you're testing for selling skills but you're not. Sad but true, those behavioral assessments you're using to help you choose the candidate who will knock it out of the park aren't designed to tell you the things you really need to know. Don't get me wrong, I use behavioral assessments all the time so I'm not knocking them as a useful tool. Just don't expect them to deliver the data you must know about a salesperson. Use the right test for the right result. We use behavioral tests with clients on new hires to gain a better understanding of how to communicate with them and manage them, as well as to get a deeper understanding of how they fit in with a particular business unit. Go here if you want to know a candidate's sales skills relative to your unique selling role.
  5. You're treating every sales role in your company the same way.  Speaking of sales roles, you are going to fail miserably at creating an elite team of selling superstars if you treat them all the same way from a hiring standpoint. I've seen companies who use the exact same sales posting on job boards for every role they need to fill. This is a disastrous strategy and will never produce a serious pool of consistently qualified candidates any more than using the same brochure or sell sheet will produce a quality pool of prospects for your business. Think marketing and deliver the right message to the right audience.
  6. You're falling in or out of love with a resume. Stop the insanity! If you have people who are sorting through resumes to determine whether or not a candidate is qualified to sell for you, you need to stop that now. On more than one occasion, I have witnessed managers with a team of several administrative people whose job it was to look through resumes and decide which candidates should be called in for interviews. Think about how utterly ridiculous this is! Each and every one of those well-meaning people is sorting based on their own idea of what's required. Some are sorting for layout. Some are sorting for font use. Some sort for spelling mistakes. Some sort for sales awards. They all have their own unique way to divine the "one."Here's the question I ask the proud CEO that always gets the blood to rush back into the cerebral cortex: "How do you ensure you're not throwing away any ideal candidates?" The answer: "That's a good question!" 
  7. You're not conducting a sales-specific series of interviews.  It doesn't have to be a long and drawn out interview process but it needs to be thorough.  And it needs to have a way to quickly help you determine which candidates should move ahead and which should move out. You also need sales specific data about each candidate to determine exactly what you need to ask them to prove their resume claims. How do you uncover selling weaknesses? How do you verify their selling skills? How do you ensure alignment around necessary competencies they must have to ramp up quickly and routinely hit their targets? Your interview process has to be scientifically sound as well as EEOC compliant.
  8. You're spending too much time with candidates who don't qualify. If you are doing any of the things I listed above there is little doubt that you are wasting precious time and resources on candidates who simply do not qualify for the job you are trying to fill. Life is short and money is expensive. Your HR professionals and sales managers deserve to work on high impact, meaningful work. Your shareholders deserve more return for their investment. And I maintain that at least half the reason salespeople have such a terrible reputation is due to poor hiring practices that place them in roles they aren't ever going to be successful in. Stop hiring the wrong salespeople for the job! Start hiring salespeople who are tailor-fit to the role and you will be doing your part to save the world (not to mention your prospects) from a bad sales experience!
  9. You're not equipped with a comprehensive New Hire Playbook for each and new sales hire. Imagine knowing exactly how to leverage the skills and talents of each one of your salespeople. Imagine the power your company would possess if they had a comprehensive guide to the proficiencies, competencies, and skill gaps for each individual contributor on the team. And imagine that playbook in the hands of a highly skilled "A" player who wants nothing more than to learn to be better, win more, and dominate the competition. Your development roadmap awaits.
  10. You don't properly on board your new salespeople.  They need more than product training, communication tools, and a pep talk. Oh, and those 30-60-90 day ride-alongs aren't cutting it either! Your salespeople need a roadmap to sales success rich with valuable and dynamic information delivered at exactly the right time. If you want to have a top performing sales team, you need a solid gold, sales specific on boarding plan that delivers long-term winners invested in the vision and immersed in the strategy. 
  11. BONUS TIP! You believe your process is as good as it can get. One of my favorite business mentors used to say, "If you always do what you always did, you'll always get what you always got." Don't let "but we've always done it this way" mentality stand in your way of having the top performing sales organization you deserve.

I help CEOs, presidents, and entrepreneurs grow their businesses. In addition to providing tools and strategies for exponential growth, my company, Guaranteed Sales Hire, also recruits sales and sales leadership talent with guaranteed results. If you found this article helpful, please consider sharing it. If you'd like to learn more about how we help CEOs significantly grow revenue click here. If you'd like to connect on Linkedin, please follow me and send me an invitation to connect.

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