Key to Successfully Hiring Salespeople: Getting it Right Versus Getting it Over With

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Dec 21, 2020 @ 08:12 AM

8 Ways You May Be Washing Your Hair Wrong | Shape

I'll get to the content related to the title, but first, some context.

In March, at the beginning of the pandemic, I wasn't paying attention to where I was walking and slammed my big toe into a door.  I destroyed the nail. Not wanting to lose it I superglued it back in place and several months after it turned black, it fell off, revealing an emerging new nail that had grown half way to the tip of my toe.  It took 8 months for a new nail to fully replace the old nail but my replacement nail was perfect and clearly an upgrade over my tired, old, destroyed nail.  

Let's discuss what that has to do with hiring salespeople.

There are typically two approaches to hiring salespeople: choosing between getting it over with, or getting it right. 

Getting it over with involves a lot of short cuts, and in more than 50% of the cases, disappointment and frustration because you got it wrong.  If you got it wrong there are two more options: living with it or taking the shampoo approach: rinse and repeat.

It's a vicious cycle of hiring the wrong way, making the wrong decisions, needing to start over, and repeating the process again and again and again. Groundhog day.  It can take months or even years before you get the right salesperson into that role.

On the other hand, what would happen if you took the broken nail approach?  Sure, it might take longer, but instead of just getting it over with and dealing with the consequences of your choice, you choose getting it right and being done for the long term.

What does getting it right involve?

  • A well thought-out repeatable sales recruiting process
  • Role Specific criteria for success
  • Well-worded job posting on the right job sites using the right parameters (like Indeed)
  • Applicant Tracking system (like RecruiterBox for hiring  up to a few or the BigGuys for bigger projects)
  • Accurate and Predictive sales-specific assessment that is customized to your criteria (like OMG)
  • Scoring system (for objectivity)
  • Great interviewing skills (to challenge every claim on their resume)
  • Patience (waiting for the ideal candidate rather than the first one you like enough to hire)
  • Discipline (no skipping steps)
  • Thorough onboarding (a formal 90-day onboarding program)

A sales manager at an OMG client told a candidate they were going to move forward subject to the results of the OMG assessment.  The sales manager's approach was a huge mistake.  He interviewed prior to assessing when he should have assessed first. He fell in love with a candidate, but still had to assess because it was company policy. That suggested to the candidate that the assessment was the defining criteria when in reality, the assessment is one of around a dozen additional data points that all matter, including, but not limited to cover letters, resumes, experience, expertise, fit, phone presence, interviews, references, intelligence, professionalism, respect, employment tenure, and background checks.  The sales manager raised the candidate's expectations only to destroy those expectations and get upset when the assessment did not recommend the candidate.  You must know that BEFORE you waste everyone's time interviewing and getting emotional!  

Recruiting salespeople doesn't need to be difficult or complicated, but it is a process and needs to be completed thoroughly and correctly.  Ask yourself this question: eighteen months from now, would you prefer to have spent five months to get it right and have a productive new salesperson, or three months getting it over with, only to have to do it again four months later, and again four months after that.  Choose getting it right over getting it over with.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales hiring, sales recruiting, HR, human resources, sales leadership, hiring salespeople, sales assessements

New Data Shows an Overlooked Finding Correlates to Sales Effectiveness

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Oct 15, 2020 @ 09:10 AM

compatibility

We use remote deposit, a terrific convenience for depositing checks from the desktop without going to the bank.  The only problem is that the software that runs the check scanner isn't compatible with the Mac OS.  It only runs on Windows so we have to remotely connect to an old Dell that takes up unnecessary space. Oh, if only the software for the check scanner was compatible with the Mac.

My wife and I were friends with a couple that argued ALL the time. They argued when they were alone, they argued when they were with us, they argued when they were with their kids and they were just brutal to each other.  If only they were more compatible.

Compatibility is not only important, it could be one of the most overlooked criteria in hiring sales candidates.  Let's do a deep dive! 

Most sales leaders think that industry experience is the most important criteria for evaluating the fit of a potential sales hire but they couldn't be more wrong.  Compatibility with the selling environment is far more important.  For example, if you sell payroll services, is it more important that the sales candidate came from the payroll industry or is it more important that they have great selling skills and called on the same HR professionals that a payroll salesperson would need to call on?  In other words, is it more important that they know stuff, or is it more important that they have a built-in network of customers to sell to? 

There's more to compatibility than who they sell to.  Factors like the length of the sales cycle, how many calls/meetings that entails, your price point relative to the competition, the amount of money they'll be asking for, the quality of the competitor's offering, the effectiveness of the competition's marketing and sales, whether they've worked for a sales manager with a similar management style, how much pressure they'll be under, whether they'll get the coaching and training they require, if they've worked under a similar compensation plan, and more should be considered.  There are nearly 30 variables that help to determine whether a salesperson is compatible for the role. 

At my weekly meeting with Objective Management Group's (OMG) COO, John Pattison, we discussed compatibility in the context of another finding we call FIOF or "Figure it Out Factor."  Candidates that have a FIOF score of 75 or better ramp up more quickly than other candidates.  Compatibility is weighted pretty heavily in the FIOF finding because of how it influences the ramp-up time of new salespeople.  The more compatible a salesperson is with your selling environment, the more quickly they should ramp up because they've "done this before."

OMG measures 21 Sales Core Competencies as well as 9 other competencies that are important but not core.  An additional finding is a score for compatibility.  

Out of curiosity, we wondered what the average score for compatibility was because we haven't looked at that before.  He asked me to guess and I said "somewhere between 60 and 80."  It turns out that the average compatibility score for all sales candidates is 70.  Not bad!  For kicks, we ran the analysis for the four levels of Sales Percentile which include Elite (top 5%), Strong (the next 15%), Serviceable (the next 30%), and Weak (everyone else - the bottom 50%).  This is what the analysis showed:

Who knew that compatibility would correlate to Sales Percentile? I certainly didn't think that the distribution of scores would show this kind of correlation.  After all, when we score compatibility, we aren't measuring any of the sales competencies that make up Sales Percentile; only prior selling environments. The top 5% of all salespeople are 41% more compatible with their selling roles than the bottom 50% and it left me wondering, "Why?"

Three theories came to mind and perhaps you can add some additional theories!

Theory 1: The best salespeople naturally identify good fits for themselves so that they can thrive.  We could guess that elite salespeople seek out the greatest selling challenges - something beyond their comfort zone - but perhaps they are simply too smart to sabotage themselves.

Theory 2: The worst salespeople don't pay any attention to fit because to them, selling is just spouting off features and benefits, doing demos, generating quotes and proposals, and taking orders.  Maybe they simply gravitate to wherever they are wanted?

Theory 3: The best sales leaders, in hiring only the best salespeople, are rewarded with salespeople that can handle their selling environment. It's worth noting that the best sales leaders hire salespeople who are more talented than they are while average and weak sales leaders hire salespeople who are weaker than they are.

I haven't written about compatibility before but it's worth spending a few minutes to understand the role it plays in sales success.

What plays an even more important role in sales success than compatibility?  It's the 21 Sales Core Competencies and configuring OMG's accurate and predictive sales candidate assessment to recommend those candidates that score well in the competencies that are crucial to success in the role you are hiring for.  Learn more about the 21 Sales Core Competencies.

Image copyright 123RF

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales hiring, sales recruiting, HR, human resources, sales performance, Personality Tests, sales selection, sales assessments, sales test

Top 10 Reasons Not to Test Your Sales Candidates

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Oct 05, 2020 @ 06:10 AM

testing

Testing.  Testing 1234.  Testing.  Check, check, check. How do I sound?  Testing 12345.  

Anyone who has conducted or listened to a sound check should be familiar with those words.  More testing = better audio.

If you're feeling ill, get tested.  That's the mantra for COVID-19.  But lots of people are getting tested.  In the USA, 345 out of every 1,000 people have been tested as of the end of September.  Compare that with Mexico where only 12 out of every 1,000 people have been tested.  That could explain the difference in positive test rates in these two countries with the US rate being less than 5% and Mexico's rate close to 50%.  More tests = well, something.

Those aren't the only two examples of testing being an obvious no-brainer.  Doctors test our vital signs - temperature, blood pressure, heart rate, blood and for some, EKG, and prostrate.  More thorough testing = more healthy.

Testing is not only normal, it's expected.

So why in the world is it so difficult to get Sales Leaders and HR professionals to test sales candidates?

We hear everything, including this week's top 10 reasons for not assessing:

  • "I hire using my gut feel"
  • "HR is not comfortable using assessments"
  • "We don't want to be bound by the recommendation"
  • "We don't want to spend the money"
  • "We don't want to change our hiring process" 
  • "We don't want to inconvenience our recruiters"
  • "What if I get a false positive?"
  • "Legal won't go for it".  
  • "Turnover is baked into our process". Consider this internal note from today: "[He] has a potential client who hires 150 reps/week with 300% turnover! Wanted to know how to price that 7,000 hire license. I suggested we take a different approach and determine the real cause of the turnover problem and then look at how many they really need to hire."  Anytime I read that turnover is greater than 100%, that's an example of baked-in turnover.
  • We don't believe in assessments". Consider this email I received today: "Nice to e-meet you.  [He] sings [OMG's] praises, but up front you should know that I have always been somewhat skeptical of Myers Briggs or personality profiling type exercises, so I'm the one you have to convince."  Bad experiences with assessments that weren't designed for sales creates biases.

These excuses are total BS.  Consider the following 4 facts:

  • Average sales turnover is now 34% and in some industries and companies it is much higher.  source
  • The average cost of sales turnover is 1.5 times compensation.  If average sales compensation is $95,000 that's a cost of $142,000.  source.
  • Fewer than 50% of salespeople will hit quota this year.  Do you think that's because of the pandemic?  Think again.  It's been that way for years!  source
  • Average ramp-up time is 5 months.  This varies wildly across industries but here's a formula to calculate what yours should be:  Length of Learning Curve + Length of Sales Cycle + 30 Days to transition.  If you have a six month sales cycle and it takes 3 months before a salesperson can have an intelligent conversation with a prospect, the ramp-up time - the time it takes for business to begin closing - is 10 months!

Let's be conservative and say that for every ten salespeople, the average company turns over 3 per year at $142,000 each.  The $426,000 cost is nothing compared to these other three problems:

  1. The distraction of having to hire 3 more salespeople
  2. The disruption in the territory or vertical,
  3. The lost opportunity of having an under-performer representing you.

Consider 8 more facts:

  1. Companies that use Objective Management Group's (OMG) sales candidate assessments have average turnover rates of just 8%.  That's 425% better than average.
  2. Companies that use Objective Management Group's sales candidate assessments have quota attainment of 88%.  That's 205% better than average.
  3. When companies hire salespeople that were not recommended by OMG, 75% of them fail within 6 months.
  4. When companies hire (after doing their due diligence) salespeople that were recommended 92% rise to the top half of the company's sales force
  5. OMG has been voted the Top Sales Assessment Tool in the World for 9 consecutive years
  6. OMG is customizable, incredibly accurate and predictive of sales success right down to the sales role for which you are hiring
  7. OMG has assessed 2,017,367 salespeople in - companies.
  8. OMG lowers recruiting costs and saves time - it's not expensive.  Depending on the number of hires and the size of the candidate pool, assessments could cost as little as $8 each!

You would think that these 8 facts would thoroughly and completely rule over the top 10 reasons for not assessing. But every minute of the day, seven days a week they don't.  People are stubborn. They don't know what they don't know while believing that they know everything.

This is my call to action.   Grab a sampleTry it for freeRegister to begin using OMG's Sales Candidate Assessments.

Image Copyright 123RF

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales hiring, sales recruiting, HR, hiring, recruiting, assessment, omg, sales test, personality test

The Phony Baloney Sales Superstar

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Apr 20, 2015 @ 06:04 AM

phony

I was in the car when the call was forwarded to my cell phone.  I didn't recognize the caller and his first statement was, "I have some questions about Objective Management Group (OMG)."  Very Dry.  Very Abrasive.

I was thinking detective, maybe researcher.  I asked, "What kind of questions?" Keep in mind that he hadn't said hello, introduced himself, or explained why he was calling so I was wondering what this was about.

He said, "I took one of your assessments and it prevented me from getting a job.  Is this based on the Myers-Briggs?"

I calmly explained that Myers-Briggs was a personality assessment that reported on 16 dimensions of personality but the OMG assessment he took was sales specific and looked at 21 Sales Core Competencies.

He told me he had problems with the Myers-Briggs preventing him from getting a job once before so it must be based on that. He repeated that it prevented him from getting this job so I asked what led him to that conclusion.  His answers will blow your mind! 

He didn't ask permission or whether or not I had time, but took the next several minutes to tell me what a great salesperson he is, the multi-million dollar deals he has closed, and the quotas he has exceeded by 800%.  He said he had a great interview with this company, but after the assessment, he wasn't called back, so it had to be the assessment that knocked him out.

I explained that the assessment is only a single data point and wouldn't knock out a great salesperson like him.  I asked how he knew it was a good interview and he mentioned a recruiter telling him so.  I asked how many salespeople the company was hiring and he said one.  I asked if it was possible that they had more than one good candidate and if another candidate could have been more qualified or a better fit than he was.  Believe it or not he said, "No."

Then he asked to see his results.

I explained that he wasn't the client and in the United States, clients - employers - were not obligated to share assessment results with candidates.  

He didn't like that answer and asked if there was some other way to get his results.  I explained that if he wanted them badly enough, he could simply pay $400 and retake the assessment on his own.

That's when he said, "That's a lot of money. I'm in between jobs.  That's not fair."

I mentioned that with all of those big deals he sold and quotas he busted, it seemed odd that $400 was a problem for him.

He said that one company still owed him $2.3 million in commissions.  I asked whether his lawyer expected to collect that money and he said his lawyer didn't think he had a case - something about a stupid lawyer...

It's not terribly rare for a candidate to send an email or make a call to their potential employer to whine or complain when they don't think they should have to take an assessment, don't get an interview, or don't get the job.  It is almost unheard of for a candidate to call OMG or me directly.  This is only the second time in the past 8 months!  Just the same, I love this part - it's my favorite.  After the call, I attempt to guess which findings I will see on their assessments, based on how they behaved on the call or in their email.  In this guy's case, I KNEW that I would see:

  • Unlikely to develop relationships early in the sales process (weakness)
  • Doesn't need to be liked (strength)
  • Difficulty recovering from rejection (weakness)
  • Arrogant (weakness)
  • Low Money Tolerance (Weakness)
  • Excuse Maker (weakness)
  • Dillusional (we don't test for this, but if we did...)
  • Poor Outlook (weakness)
  • Low Sales Posturing Score 
  • High Hunting Score
  • Strong Commitment (strength)

While those findings jumped off the pages for me, there was also a low confidence score, meaning that OMG wasn't confident with its overall score for him because he was so inconsistent in his approach to the assessment.  He also had very few selling skills beyond his ability to hunt, only a serviceable Sales Quotient, and he was a poor fit for the selling environment he applied for.  If you want to see a sample of this Sales Candidate Assessment so that you can put all of this into context, you can request a sample here.  If you want to skip right to a free trial, you can request that here.

In most cases, the more insistent that sales candidates are about their sales capabilities, the more likely it is that they are in the bottom 74% and they suck.  In most cases, the only sale they ever make is to the gullible sales manager or HR Director that falls for their lies, claims and exaggerations.

The funny thing is that this candidate was probably right.  In this case, the assessment and its 150 or so sales findings painted an accurate picture of him and alerted the employer that this was a Phony Baloney Sales Candidate who should not be considered for this role.

 

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales recruiting, HR, sales weaknesses, omg, objective management group

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Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader,  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog has earned medals for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for nine 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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