The Top 5 Mistakes Made in Hiring Salespeople

  • Lack of a Competency Model (A clear picture of what you are looking for)
  • Improper use of assessments (Using them as a test rather than a tool to interview)
  • Poorly conducted, inconsistent phone screens
  • Interview process not aligning with the competency model
  • Using your gut too quickly or “Love at First Sight Syndrome”

Today we will focus on Lack of Competency Model:

  1. 1.   Lack of a Competency Model … No Clear Picture!

Many companies don’t have a clear picture of what they are looking for. Many times, it is because they believe if someone has had success selling at one place, they will be successful at their business. Let’s compare 2 types of sales and salespeople…

a. Consultative Sales – This type of sale is often a longer sales cycle (could be 3 months or up to 2-3 years), typically involves a customized solution, often more than one decision maker and certainly many influencers involved. The salesperson who can handle this will need to have organizational skills, be a more creative thinker, not a cookie cutter approach.

b. Unique Value Sales – Typically a shorter sales cycle (2-4 meetings over shorter time frame). The salesperson must typically get the prospect to discover that they need the service being sold. Often a customized sale but not to the degree of the consultative sale.  Typically not as many people involved in the decision making or influencing positions. Does not require as much detail orientation as the consultative sale. Does require much more prospecting and creating new opportunities. This person must enjoy hunting and closing.

If we just compare these two categories without looking at other categories there are some competencies that will be very different.

Consultative sales will include (but not be limited to):

  • organizational skills, there are multiple meetings and multiple people to take care of and keep comfortable, customized solution
  • Building and maintaining relationships over an extended period of time
  • Getting clearly defined next steps and communicating those throughout the process. Good listening skills and the ability to ask clarifying questions will also be important.

Unique Value sales will include (but not be limited to):

  • High level of Goal Orientation – Important for them to be the best
  • A Competitive Style that is less dependent on the team and more independent
  • Ability to handle conflict – There is a lot more prospecting involved
  • Lower Process Orientation than Consultative Sales, don’t want a salesperson who is always “Getting ready to get ready”.
  • Comfortable with who they are…“Ego”… does not feel intimidated by a higher authority
  • Low Need for Approval -Their need to be liked by others is less than their need to win
  • Lower Relationship Focus – While it is vital to build rapport, these people realize helping a prospect succeed is more important than being a “Professional Visitor”

Just a quick look at this short list would help you understand that a successful consultative salesperson might not do as well in a Unique Value role, and the reverse would also be true.

When competencies change, the assessments should also change to match the right competencies. The interview questions and strategies would change as well. Knowing exactly what you need in a person for both your company and the salesperson to be successful is one of the most valuable steps in hiring salespeople.

Building your model first will give you a clear picture of what you are looking for, how to write the job description, and where you need to go with screening and interviewing your potential hires.