Making Hiring Salespeople Successful

I just completed recruiting engagements with two companies. One required a salesperson and the other, a sales manager.

Here are three things I discovered:

  • This year, even with the low unemployment rate, we found more and better candidates.
  • Even though we found more and better candidates, the number of unqualified candidates that applied through our applicant tracking system was disproportionally large.
  • We found a number of strong candidates that were recommended by our OMG sales specific assessment that weren’t right for my client companies. Either they weren’t a good culture fit or their background and experience were a mismatch.

Many companies hire based on a job description. While important, it is one small step in what should be a defined process.

It may be difficult to determine an overall fit if you don’t create a detailed matrix of job responsibilities and the traits, skills, characteristics, attitudes and experience required for success in that job. Because we help our clients create that document, it is much easier to disqualify candidates that may be great in sales, but not for your position.

This article by Dave Kurlan, President of OMG, looks at hiring salespeople from the HR perspective. The lessons are relevant for HR, and any hiring manager.


77% of Salespeople? Really?

Many of you reading this either know me or have heard me speak. You may remember my story.

I started my career as a 2nd grade teacher in Breckenridge. I’m an introvert by nature; certainly not a “natural” salesperson. I’ve been successful in 4 careers, 3 of them involving selling.

I have a passion to help people recognize their potential; whether a 2nd grader learning to read, a sales manager understanding how to grow their team, or a CEO developing a sales culture in their company.

Anyone can learn anything; if they want to. I believe that completely. I’m am the evidence.

With that perspective, why is this month’s article from Dave Kurlan about how the quality of salespeople has been eroding?

Because it has. Because selling has changed. Because selling is harder now than it was 7 years ago. In an environment where buyers have never been so informed (not always accurately, however), most salespeople haven’t learned to sell value, to differentiate their products/service or to be strong with a prospect.

That 77% of salespeople are weak isn’t all that surprising. They’ve just never been properly developed in the sales discipline!  When I “came up”, young people were trained by IBM or Xerox or some other company. That doesn’t happen now.

If they do get training it is frequently short term skills training which really doesn’t help folks understand the “why” behind their lack of success.

So before your dig into this fascinating article, keep in mind that people can change, they can grow, they can get better. If they want to, and if they have the type of development that is proven to work.


For years, I’ve been writing that there is an elite 6%, another 20% that are fairly strong, and then the remaining 74% suck.  Well, those numbers have moved.  As you can see in the graph above, the percentage of elite salespeople has climbed by a whopping 1% to 7%, or an increase of 10,000 salespeople.  Unfortunately, the decrease in strong salespeople, from 20% down to 16%, means that the percentage of sucky salespeople now stands at an unbelievable 77%.

So despite the glut of free content in the form of blog articles, podcasts and videos, how do we explain that sales capabilities on the whole are worse than ever before?  Going back to Charlie Daniels and BTO, the devil may be in Georgia, but he is definitely right here in the details where it is obvious that we aren’t doing a great job of taking care of business.

Click here for the rest of the article


How Golf Can Be Like Recruiting Salespeople

While helping organizations find great salespeople is an important part of my business, many company leaders I speak with feel they can do just as well or better on their own.

That’s because they expect the salesperson they hire to be good enough; and, in their experience, it is too expensive to get help. So they will “settle”. (They don’t know I can help for less than 20% of most recruiter’s fees!)

When they settle for an average salesperson, turnover is often a problem.

Many leaders seem to expect less from their sales team than other departments. Perhaps it is because 74% of salespeople are mediocre or worse.

It doesn’t have to be that way. Check out this article by Dave Kurlan to get some insight into recruit self-starting, independent team players who over-achieve sales goals.