Why CEO’s/VP Sales Make Mistakes Hiring Sales People

The CEO is the number one position in the organization.  The VP of sales is high on the org chart too.  It would make sense that these people would also be the best at unearthing and retaining top-notch sales talent.  This is such a common belief that the creation of a sales team is often delegated to professionals in these roles.  So while your CEO may be great at determining an annual operating plan, he may not actually know the best way to recruit sales people.

Industry averages suggest that incoming reps deliver below 50% of their quota after 12 months.  Less than 50% continue on for at least 24 months after being hired.  What does that mean to you?  Well, only half of newly hired reps meet their goals and then leave the company within two years.  With those odds, you might have better luck blindfolding yourself, randomly grabbing a resume and then hire that person.  It would be a lot cheaper too!

People are important to VP’s, but few have had hiring training.  Rigorous hiring practices can increase those odds, but first you need to understand how to find and choose suitable individuals.   It may be easier for an untrained manager to hire in other categories, say accounting or engineering.  Those careers lend themselves to measurable data that can be used in determining the past performance and future success of a candidate.  Unfortunately, it’s a little trickier when hiring a salesperson.  Characteristics such as drive can easily be faked by someone in sales.  Let’s face it; even poor performing sales people can be charming and persuasive in an interview.  An experienced recruiter can peel away the outer layer of “charming” and see beneath to the real skill set and traits.

CEO’s and VP’s have escalated in position because of their business acumen and excellence.  High performing sales people are recruited and retained by trained professionals that measure worth based on performance, not on superficial “gut” feelings acquired at the interview. Every organization has experts that are trained to handle certain responsibilities.  You wouldn’t have your marketing manager handle payroll, so why would a CEO be in charge of hiring?

Your business employs an accountant, a lawyer, and a number of specialists that are paid regularly to do things that others are not qualified to do. A good sales recruiter has a hiring strategy, time to conduct a thorough process, knows how to assess skills and how to define performance criteria.  It takes talent, organization, determination, patience and training to be a productive sales recruiter. Not everyone can do it (even those at the top), so choose your recruiter wisely!