How to Finally Get Sales Selection Right

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Jun 16, 2015 @ 13:06 PM

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Before I share some crucial sales selection tips, I need to begin with some baseball. My apologies to all of my cricket and soccer obsessed readers.

My team, the Boston Red Sox, just lost their seventh consecutive game. They are in last place and heading for their third last place finish in the past four years. The outlier year was 2013, when they won the World Series. I think there was far less talent on that championship team than on this year's edition, but the 2013 team had a rallying cry (Boston Strong) and everyone overachieved. You can't count on everyone overachieving each year, so in lieu of that, as Jim Collins would say, you must have the right people in the right seats. 

When it comes to sales selection, sales leaders regularly make the same mistake that Red Sox General Manager Ben Cherington has made for the last 4 years. Ben is the architect of these 3H (helpless, hapless and hopeless) Red Sox teams. Ben continues to select players who have succeeded in the easier National League, who struggle to compete in the more challenging American League. He also promotes minor leaguers before they are ready. Similarly, companies hire salespeople who have succeeded for other companies, in other industries, in other roles, against different competition, with other price points, calling on different decision makers, with longer and shorter sales cycles. They even hire salespeople away from their competitors, believing that their customers will follow. Well, how has that worked out for you?

Here's an example:    Yesterday, I received an email from an OMG Client in the Middle East wondering why a candidate was not recommended. The email said:

I would like you input on this attached folder, this guy has a great file, why he is not selected and was not hirable?  I need to understand what are the criteria of selection for an account manager?  

I wrote back:

The custom role specification for an account manager was used on this candidate and as you can see on page 3, it requires a candidate to meet at least 70% of the criteria for an account manager.  Your candidate met only 65% of the criteria and possesses only 40% of the account manager skill set.  He is much better suited for a hunter role where he has 100% of the hunter competency.

Most Sales leaders believe that if a salesperson has had any success, or good references, or even a good score on OMG's Sales Candidate Assessment, they should be chosen. But nothing could be further from the truth. Every role, in every company, calling into every vertical and decision maker, selling against every competitor and at every price point, with varying degrees of resistance, is different.

You wouldn't hire a hunter to manage existing accounts any more than you would hire an account manager to hunt. But that's what sales leaders and HR professionals do - every minute of every day - when they aren't using anything more than a resume and experience as a predictor of future performance.

It reminds me of the time when I was on a boat with Dennis Connelly, a senior sales strategist at my company. I can't remember whether the lights weren't functioning or there just weren't any running lights, but I do remember that darkness had replaced light. He needed to navigate back to the slip in the harbor, but there were hundreds of boats to steer clear of and all he had was a flashlight! At that point, you need an awful lot of luck to succeed.

For the most part, that's what sales leaders rely on each time they select a salesperson. "Let's hope that this one works out!" How many 3M's (mishires, mistakes and mishaps) does it take before a sales leader or an HR professional realizes that the way they hire salespeople just doesn't lead to consistent success?

But it doesn't need to be that way. Not when there is a highly predictive, customizable, sales selection tool that consistently gets it right. Not when it's sales-specific and has science on its side.  Not when it's so affordable that it's a no-brainer to use.

92% of the recommended candidates, who are hired with this tool, rise to the top half of the sales force within one year. 75% of the candidates who are not recommended by this tool, but who somehow get hired anyway, fail within 6 months. The tool is insanely accurate.  

It's all about sales selection. You can learn more about OMG's Sales Candidate Assessments right here.

I stand behind it. 10,000 companies use it. It works! Isn't it time for you to finally get sales selection right?

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales candidates, Baseball, sales selection, objective management group, Boston Red Sox

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About Dave

Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader.  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog earned a medal for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for six consecutive years. This article earned a Bronze Medal for Top Sales Blog post in 2016, this one earned a Silver medal for 2017, and this article earned Silver for 2018. Read more about Dave.

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