Top 10 Reasons Why Your Great New Salesperson Might Fail

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Jun 30, 2014 @ 09:06 AM

failure

When a great salesperson is recommended by Objective Management Group's (OMG) Sales Candidate Assessment, and this star has a great track record, and great references, should we expect this person to succeed?

Most executives do.

But even though salespeople will tell you that "If you can sell, you can sell anything", that statement is only true some of the time.  Here are some examples of salespeople who are successful in one environment, but usually fail in another:

  1. They were the best in their business at selling high-volume, low-cost products until they went to work for a value-based company and the "beat their best price" tactics were no longer available.
  2. They were the best at selling programs to procurement until they went to work for a company where the sale had to be made in the C-Suite where they were intimidated, unable to speak the language and unable to grasp the importance of strategy, profit and return.
  3. They were the best at selling components to OEM's until they went to work for a company where they had to sell conceptual services and were lost without a product to demonstrate.
  4. They were the best at finding and selling new accounts for a local company until they went to work for a national firm and had to do the same thing, in a brand new territory, working from their home.
  5. They were the best at selling 5-cent parts by the thousand until they went to work for a company where they had to sell 6-figure programs and choked over the amount of money they had to ask for.
  6. They were the best when they were managing, retaining and growing key accounts, and now that they work for a company where they must hunt for new business, they are sucking wind.
  7. They were on top of the pack when they sold services with a six-month sales cycle, but now that they work for a company selling a product in a very short sales cycle, nothing is getting closed.
  8. They were #1 at the last company, working under a hands-on sales manager who was a stickler for coaching and accountability, but the results just aren't there with the new company where they are reporting directly to the President who only responds to the proactive requests of his salespeople.
  9. There was nobody better at getting contracts signed when they sold the product that everyone buys and it was only a matter of who they would buy it from, but now that they are selling things that companies could either do themselves or not do at all, they can't overcome the ambivalence.
  10. They were at the top of the heap working for the large, well-known industry leader where prospects rolled out the red carpet and eagerly bought their products.  Now that they are working for a lesser known company, they aren't able to overcome the resistance that is always there now, but never there before.

Skills and experience are terrific, but track record is extremely misleading!

For example, if you go back and take another look at #4, this is where great salespeople, selling the exact same thing, can suddenly fail because they aren't able to succeed when working remotely from a sales manager who doesn't manage her salespeople very closely.

I reviewed OMG's data on a random set of 4,500 recent sales candidate assessments and only 12% were suitable for working remotely.  BUT…upon closer look, 12% was not representative of the findings for any one company!

Of the companies that required both a remote seller and had enough candidates to make up an appropriate sample size, the distribution of candidates suitable for working remotely ranged from 2% to 75%.  I thought that was rather strange and looked again, but with different filters.  I found that the variations in suitability had more to do with the company, and the difficulty level of the role, than anything else.  When the role was more difficult and their job postings reflected that difficulty, stronger candidates applied and were assessed.  When the role was less difficult and the job postings reflected it, all kinds of qualified and unqualified candidates applied and the assessments reflected that change in candidate quality.  For example, look at these 5 companies, their percentage of suitable candidates, and the difficulty level of the role:

Company Difficulty Level Suitable for Remote
 A  Considerable  75%
 B  Considerable  67%
 C  Some  50%
 D  Moderate  25%
 E  Moderate  2% 

If you throw out company E, the average is 60% suitable, but we also lose 75% of the candidates in the sample, so you can’t do that… 

When the role is not very difficult, the company will attract lower level salespeople, and they will be much less likely to be suitable for working remotely than their much stronger peers.

When you look at all 10 of my examples, you should be able to recognize why it is so important to use a sales-specific candidate assessment that is customized to your company's requirements, determines whether candidates possess the required selling skills, digs into the Sales DNA to determine whether candidates will succeed in your business, and in this role, and makes an accurate, predictive recommendation.

 

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Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales hiring, sales candidates, omg, sales assessment test, sales selection

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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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