Critical Considerations Before Hiring a Salesperson

man being interviewed
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Thus far in this multi-part series, we’ve covered how to define your ideal sales position candidate, how to recruit qualified candidates and how to conduct an interview that will help you decide which candidate is best suited for your sales opening. Now it’s decision time.

At this critical stage, you will have the opportunity to accomplish one of three things: make a good (or even great) hire, make a bad hire, or make no hire. Let’s take a closer look at some important considerations:

The good or great hiring decision:

Sometimes  which salesperson to hire is a no-brainer. During your defining/recruiting/interviewing process, the perfect candidate emerges. One with the background, skills and personality that are perfect not only for your internal organization, but also for your client and prospect communities. Two potential problems can impact your decision here: 1) an embarrassment of riches from having multiple “perfect” candidates, and 2) having a single best candidate who wants more in sales compensation than you had originally budgeted.

First problem first: With multiple great candidates and a level playing field, you might need to consider the behavior that is often tough to quantify even if it is also often visible. There will probably be something that tells you – despite multiple sales job candidates having essentially equal quantifiable skills and successes – that one rises above the rest. That was a decision the Indianapolis Colts faced in 1998 when deciding between Peyton Manning and Ryan Leaf for their next quarterback. On paper, the decision was a virtual toss-up. Both players clearly had the skill sets and backgrounds of college success to make either decision a defensible one. What made the difference? An intangible: attitude. Manning wanted the job more and made this clear in his actions and confident demeanor. The rest is history.

If, however, you have a clear-cut best candidate who, though worth it, wants more in compensation than you were prepared to offer, you’ve got a decision to make. You can adjust your offer in recognition of the candidate’s value or you can settle for a lesser candidate who will fit within your sales team budget. Clearly, you want the best salesperson for your organization. With that in mind, can you ask this preferred sales position candidate to call on a higher level of decision maker? Can you increase quotas or make the overall compensation plan more lucrative based on performance? Can you realistically expect the candidate to generate more revenue to offset the additional cost? If so, going with this clear best choice will almost always be the right decision.

The bad hiring decision:

On the other hand, a situation that will, more often than not, lead to a “bad hire” is if you settle for a sales job candidate who is not truly qualified but is the best available after interviews have been completed. Choosing an underqualified candidate for your sales team in hopes that he or she will rise to the challenge seldom works. When reviewing sales job candidates and their chances for success in the position, go back to the success criteria you established early on. Don’t let personality cloud the fact that a candidate is less than qualified, and therefore a significant risk.

Consider the ramifications of making the wrong hiring decision: The bad hire harms client and prospect perceptions about your company (and even your leadership skills and decision-making). In fact, multiple bad hiring decisions can destroy your credibility. The bad hiring decision also takes current clients out of their comfort zone and makes them wonder if one of your competitors is now the better choice. In other words, it upsets the status quo. It dissolves the “stickiness” of a previously good vendor-client relationship.

The decision to not hire anyone…yet:

Faced with the choice of settling for a salesperson who “might” work out or hiring no one from the current available pool of sales job candidates, it’s usually best to wait, to start over and continue your search. The risks of making a bad hire are just too great, especially in a smaller organization where so much is riding on the success of a single salesperson. So yes, sometimes the best hiring decision is to make no hire at all. Ask yourself: Can you afford to wait? Can you afford not to?

If you’re not sure how to evaluate your sales position candidates and make the best hire to empower your company’s continuing success, contact a Sales Xceleration Advisor today.