Sales managers have given up on it. Business owners don’t know what to do about it. Recruiters and headhunters are avoiding it. Human Resource managers have decided to outsource it. What is this?

It is the job of getting the right salespeople to hire. Why is hiring right such a difficult task for business people and human resource experts alike? From where we stand as specialists in sales recruitment we have observed the following mistakes that business owners and managers are making while recruiting salespeople.

1. Looking for the super salesperson:

Many organizations are obsessed with getting that one single superstar……….. a sales magician………..a superman. That man or woman who will come in and start delivering results in a few days or weeks.

When they come across someone they think bears the marks of this magician they make big promises and commitments on compensation and other benefits to this person. Then they sit and wait for the results to start flowing in.

Then as days start counting into weeks and no results come as expected. In the meantime, the costs of maintaining this star are piling up and soon they become too much to incur. The person is put under extreme pressure to deliver. Often the terms of engagement are changed downwards. Disappointment gives way to something closer to hatred on this guy. He is accused openly or behind his back of lying to get the job.

The superstar will either opt-out or will be fired for failing to live up to unrealistic expectations.

The mistake made is failing to appreciate that every sales person however great will take time to start producing. Depending on industry this ramp up time may even run into months. This time can be shortened through various strategies which must be spearheaded by the employer.

2. Trying to hire yourself out of a sales crisis:

Many organizations hire salespeople to get out of a sales crisis. Whether it is falling sales volumes, lost opportunities, losing business to competitors or stagnated growth many organizations result to hiring sales people as the first line of response to the crises.

The truth is that you cannot solve your immediate problems through hiring. Hiring as a short term remedy normally deepens the crisis. As stated previously in this article you should not expect immediate results from new hires, regardless of their experience and understanding of your business and industry.

You need also need to recognize that the people are usually part of a sales organization and rarely are they the biggest cause of the sales challenges you have. Only after you address the other challenges you do you result in hiring.

You need to address issues to do with your sales strategy and sales management structures before you start shopping for great sales talent.

3. Entrusting the success of new salesperson to the new salesperson:

Many organizations particularly the Small and Medium Sized Businesses hire and then sit back wait for them to produce. They hope that the new person will discover and overcome the various hurdles in the business and the market on his own initiative.

The support the new guy or girl will get will be a few minutes’ introductions to existing staff, some orientation by some bored and disinterested staff from other departments, some product training and sustained pressure to produce.

I believe that for you to make it as a salesperson you require to be self driven, a person with great sense of discipline and initiative and a quick learner.

However, for these qualities to deliver the highest results they should be employed in the right places and in the right ways. These are the ways the firm has discovered and mastered over its business lifetime. This is the excellence knowledge which should be shared with every sales person –new or old- through rigorous training and coaching. This knowledge should be developed into tools, procedures and processes to aid the new person to succeed.

You need to have support structures and systems that aid the new hire to start producing without having to invent his own wheel of success in your organization.

4. A faulty selection paradigm:

Can you tell for sure what kind of candidate you require in your organization? What qualities should that candidate have? What are the-must-have qualities, the good to have and the others you don’t care about? Are you convinced these are the qualities that make the person excel in your business?

Do you know how to identify those qualities in a candidate? How can you measure them?

Every manager will tell you that past experience and education levels are the least important determinants for success in sales yet; these two are the major determining factors in the selection of majority of candidates hired in the market every year. Actually, if a candidate doesn’t impress on the basis of these two factors in their resume they are unlikely to be even shortlisted for interviewing.

5. Hiring people you don’t have to develop:

Everyone wants to hire people whom they will spend minimum effort, time and resources to develop. While this may sound like great business wisdom, casual observation reveals otherwise. In most organizations the most productive, the most competent and the most loyal sales people are the ones who were hired on basis of potential rather than previously acquired selling competency. This potential was nurtured and developed through training, mentorship and coaching within the organization they are working for. Many of those who move from organizations that initially developed them struggle to perform in the same manner they did in the original employer.

This then makes a case for you to hire on basis of sales potential or sales aptitude. You need to be able to identify this aptitude and then provide nurturing and development structures and systems that will convert the potential into results.

If you avoid these mistakes you will save your company millions of shilling every year. You can calculate your real costs of sales hiring mistakes by using this calculator

===================================================================================== About the Author

Sam Kariuki is a Sales Strategist, Trainer and Recruiter with Growth Partners a firm that specializes in helping businesses develop effective sales strategies, structures and people. www.growthpartners.co.ke .

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