10 Signs Your Process for Hiring Salespeople is Broken

Is the process for hiring new salespeople working for you? If it is not, you’re not alone. Many employers and sales job candidates think the process for hiring salespeople is broken.

signs process for hiring salespeople is broken

Even though companies spend a lot to recruit, hire, and train folks for sales positions, the industry turnover rate for salespeople remains abysmal. Industry experts report the turnover rate for salespeople is often more than 25%.

Here are 10 signs that you have a damaged system for hiring new sales staff and tips on fixing the issues.

Sign #1: Your job postings bring in mostly unqualified applicants or get no response

If you are not getting any response to an ad, the problem is the ad or the audience.

Is your posting copy compelling? Do you make your job sound real or does your posting sound like everyone else? Do you use cliché phrases such as: “seeking a self-starter”? Does your post mention compensation or do you write “salary commensurate with experience”?

Use the posting to make your job real. Talk about the good, the bad, and the opportunity. If you need to learn how to write a job post that attracts great sales applicants, get a free copy of our Guide to Hiring the Best Salespeople for Your Company at this link.

Also, make sure you are going beyond the standard job boards to get your message out. To see more about where to place posts for open sales positions, get a copy of our free Hiring Guide at the link above.

If you’re skirting the salary issue in your post, you are making a mistake. Candidates do not want to spend hours completing online applications only to learn the compensation is too low.

ZipRecruiter says to handle the salary, you can list:

  • A lower compensation to attract only applicants that are really interested in the job
  • The highest possible amount (with the phrase, up to) to capture a wider range of applicants
  • A range to get a little leeway in making a final offer (We recommend this approach.)
  • No compensation, which gives you the most negotiating power but does not attract as many applicants

Sign #2: You use resumes as the first key step of your hiring process

We have very little faith in resumes. Research shows that an applicant’s resume is only 18% successful in predicting job success. In its 2016 survey of 2,100 employers, CareerBuilder reports that 77% of HR managers have caught a lie on a resume.

Skip the resume. Ask applicants to take an upfront assessment, see below.

Sign #3: You do not conduct an up-front assessment of all sales candidates

One of the best tools you can use to hire quota-busting salespeople is a well-designed and sales-position-validated psychometric test. We think these tools are the key to implementing a successful process for hiring salespeople.

Developers of these tests design them to measure the candidates’ suitability for a sales position based on required personal characteristics and aptitude. You want to make sure you get a predictive test, which the developers have validated on a sales applicant population. You should not use a test that only measures personality.

To find the best sales assessment test to use in hiring your salespeople, request a free copy of our Guide for Selecting the Right Sales Assessment for You

Your ideal assessments will use at least three components to triangulate the applicant’s ability to perform in your sales position. Experts say the best results come from a combination of tests measuring:

  • Sales specific skills and ability, and
  • General mental ability

You should combine these tests with a highly structured interview process. For more information on this process, get your free copy of our Assessment Guide.

Sign #4: You are losing your best candidates mid-way through the hiring process

If you are losing top sales candidates in the middle of the hiring process, odds are your process is taking too long. Some companies promote a hiring process that takes as much as 40 hours per hire. In today’s fast-paced world, who has that much time?

In its 2017 survey of employers, Glassdoor reports it took U.S. employers about 23.8 days to hire a new employee. How do you stack up? We have two infographics that depict the length of the ideal process for hiring salespeople:

One illustrates the best sales-hiring process in a tight market and another shows the best sales-hiring process for a soft market (or one with passive candidates).

Sign #5: Your interviewers use random and non-standard questions

If you want to hire quota-busting salespeople, you must use a structured interview. In a structured interview, you ask the same specific questions of each candidate in the same order.

With this type of questioning, you reduce your interview bias and focus more on questions related o the applicant’s job-related skills. You should also develop a score for the range of answers to each question. By scoring typical answers in advance, you minimize the chance for “false” answers.

At this link, you can read more about structured interviews.

For a complete description on how to conduct a structured interview, get a free copy of our Hiring Guide.

Sign #6: All sales applicants answering interviewers’ questions sound the same

If you hear the same answers from all applicants, you are not asking probing questions. You want to ask questions that really allow you to get to know the candidate. We believe that Grit is a very good indicator of sales success.

You should ask open-ended questions that encourage the applicant to demonstrate or explain their sales Grit.

Here is an example of a Grit-related question:

“Top performers do what the average won’t do. Give me a couple of examples where you were willing to do what others weren’t and tell me what motivated you.”

For more examples of Grit questions for salespeople and a sample scorecard, request a free copy of our Guide to Grit Questions for Interviewing Sales Candidates.

Sign #7: Chosen candidates are rejecting your offers

Glassdoor reports that candidates typically reject job offers for three reasons:

First, your salary and benefits are not competitive

Make sure you know the standard salary and benefits package for your industry. If you do not meet the standard, you will need to work very hard to sell your company to candidates

Second, your firm has bad online reviews online

Job applicants will research potential employers. If posts on job websites (such as Glassdoor) are consistently negative, great sales candidates will pass you by. The best folks have many options, so monitor how people talk about your company.

You should watch the online comments about your workplace. If the negative reviews are accurate, you should try to fix the problem and own it with applicants. You can visit this link to learn more about how to respond to bad Glassdoor reviews.

Third, your hiring process is a poor experience for applicants…

Take care to make a good first impression. Keep applicants in the loop and explain your process and next steps. If you promise a response on 2 days, make that happen.

If you are concerned that applicants are turning you down due to a bad selection process, get feedback and make corrections. 

You can also get a free guide from Glassdoor on closing job candidates at this link.

Sign #8: New well-qualified hires flame-out (or quit) quickly

If your top hires fail to succeed or they quit quickly, make sure you set expectations correctly in the hiring process. You should also carefully review your onboarding process.

A successful onboarding program reduces attrition of your new hires.

Most companies do not onboard salespeople correctly. Sales is a tough job and new hires need help to get a good solid start.  Onboarding is a process that continues through the first six months to a year.

In a good onboarding program for new sales hires, you prepare your sales recruits with the knowledge, skills, and tools to succeed in sales at your company, even if they have similar industry and product experience!

If you need help with onboarding, get a free copy of our Guide for Successfully Onboarding Salespeople.

Sign #9: You do not communicate with candidates during the hiring process

Most companies do not communicate well during their hiring process. CareerBuilder reports that only 14% of candidates feel that potential employers kept them well informed throughout the entire hiring process.

Don’t leave applicants in the dark. Outline your process for hiring salespeople and the length of time it typically takes for you to make a selection. If all applicants must take an assessment prior to an interview, tell them. At each step, describe the next step. If applicants don’t make the cut at a stage in the process, let them know you will not consider them for this opening.

By keeping candidates informed of their progress, you create a much better overall impression of your company. With a well-run process, you don’t burn bridges. You never know that second choice candidates could be the ideal candidate for a different job.

Sign #10: You have not changed your hiring process in years

If you have not made any changes to your hiring process, you are likely stuck in the past.

Are you still pouring through resumes to schedule in-person interviews in the first part of the selection process? If yes, you are losing ground to more up-to-date employers.

You should adopt the latest best practices and utilize new technology to make the interview and hiring process easier for you and applicants. You can use technology such as applicant tracking, online testing and video interviewing (if appropriate) to help you improve on your existing process.

Contact us if you need help evaluating your process for hiring salepeople.

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