Six fatal mistakes in sales recruitment

May 14, 2022 - 9min. read

A strong salesperson is a blessing for your business. They can keep your pipeline well filled and generate good turnover and growth opportunities for your company, and serenity in the workplace.

Being straddled with a poor salesperson is very frustrating. An empty pipeline and less turnover often cause nervousness, rapid cost cuts and chaos, failure and staff turnover in the workplace.

A targeted and successful sales recruitment strategy is therefore not only crucial to grow your business, it’s also essential to keep your business out of danger.

Even so, despite all the pitfalls and risks, many entrepreneurs think: “We’ll just do the sales recruitment ourselves.” Is that the case at your company?

1. You don’t know what you’re getting into

Entrepreneurs often want ‘more business’, so they try to attract salespeople. However, looking for salespeople to generate ‘more business’ is like just grabbing a random paintbrush to finish the final details of a painting.

If you don’t yet have a clear picture of where you stand as a company, where you want to go and what you need to get there, it’s impossible to hire the right salesperson.

Do you want to attract new customers? Is your main concern retaining customers or increasing sales with them? Do you want to improve margins or (have someone) devise and implement clear sales goals and a sales strategy?

Look before you leap. Only start looking for a sales expert when you’re 100% sure about what this person has to achieve and the knowledge, experience and skills they need. This will improve your chances of finding the best person for the job.

2. You let yourself be tempted too quickly

Most salespeople are outgoing and communicative. They search out connection which often allows them to sell themselves well, especially when you’re under time pressure or not so strong verbally.

However, there’s no guarantee that a slick salesperson will actually be able to sell your products or services. This usually requires much more knowledge, patience, people skills and perseverance than you can evaluate in a single job interview.

So, don’t let yourself be tempted too quickly and make sure you plan enough moments for sufficient and varied assessments (preferably by different people). This will give you a thorough understanding of the capabilities and, especially, the limitations of your candidate. Actively check references and use your network to find out about previous experiences with your candidate.

Even after hiring, plan enough evaluation moments, so that you can perfectly monitor whether your new salesperson is making sufficient progress. This allows you to make adjustments in good time or go your separate ways.

3. You expect too much from the first interview

Lots of entrepreneurs immediately expect fireworks during the first meeting with a sales candidate. They want to be blown away, because salespeople have to be able to sell themselves, right?

Correct (see also above), but you might also find yourself face-to-face with a salesperson who can listen carefully and ask the right questions. These people are often less convincing during the first interview, but they do create a sense of confidence that can help them win deals for you in the future.

The days of overenthusiastic grandstanders are long gone, especially in IT, where complex solutions often have to be sold. Make sure, therefore, that you screen your sales candidates for their abilities to listen, ask the right questions and connect.

Fireworks are fine, but not necessary! The important thing is to have the right mix of people in your sales team to achieve your goals.

4. You attach too much value to CVs

CVs usually say something about the capabilities of salespeople, but not how they can benefit your company.

For example, job hoppers may seem less attractive at first glance, but they often have a wealth of experience that means they can work independently and achieve good results.

Loyal salespeople who have worked for the same company for years may seem attractive at first, but these people are sometimes less dynamic and energetic.

So avoid attaching too much value to your candidates’ CVs. Instead, use them as a conversation starter to assess whether candidates can again achieve previous results in your business context.

5. Your recruitment process isn’t sound

Many entrepreneurs rely on their gut feeling to hire salespeople. This is risky, because, as mentioned above, a poor salesperson can endanger your entire organisation.

Avoid problems by making sure your recruitment process is sound and that it allows you to assess candidates on different competencies by different colleagues in different situations. In addition, make clear agreements before, during and after the recruitment process.

Everyone involved must be convinced of the knowledge, experience and ‘cultural fit’ of the new sales colleague. Without this support, there is an excessive risk of your organisation suffering a negative impact.

6. You stare blindly at your current situation

We often find what we’re looking for, even if it isn’t necessarily the best outcome.

What I mean to say here is: don’t only screen your candidates in the context of your current needs. Think in broader terms and make sure your candidates will also be able to benefit your company in the long run.

In other words, look at the bigger picture and don’t limit yourself to salespeople with a technical IT background. That would narrow your search unnecessarily and might mean you end up with someone without the best commercial reflexes.

Salespeople from other sectors are often more commercially oriented and their uninhibited view of the IT sector can often be enlightening.

Good luck with your next hiring!

Do you want more success with your sales?

  • Look before you leap.
  • Be realistic.
  • Be patient.
  • Be on your guard and stay on your guard.

And don’t look for a unicorn or a goose that lays golden eggs. Your search will always be futile.

Have you got everything you need in-house to attract good salespeople? You can find out in our next blog post.

Are you not sure or could you use some assistance? Contact us. We’ll be glad to hear about your situation and help you on your way.