Terrible Sales TeamThere are countless articles on how to build a high performance sales team (including ours: How To Create A High-Performance Sales Culture), so we decided to take a lighthearted look at how not to build a sales team.

  1. Only look for talent when you need to hire – If a hiring manager looks for talent only when an open spot has been identified, then they are likely going to be focussed on talking to job seekers and feel pressure to hire whoever is available, but potentially miss out on recruiting high achievers who are currently busy selling for other companies and not looking for jobs. Limiting the pool from which to recruit is a great way to hire less than stellar candidates. Alternatively, a hiring manager can maximize the chance of getting exposed to top sales talent by practicing the ABC’s of Recruiting – Always Be Recruiting.
  2. Determine who to interview based on the resume – The hiring manager who only considers the resume when deciding who to consider for open sales positions, assumes that experience and credentials are more important than sales DNA. This is a risky bet. Furthermore, the best written resumes are often created by the reps with the most free time on their hands, so to filter candidates based on resume alone is a great way to focus on reps with weak Sales DNA and those who spend more time polishing their resume than selling. Alternatively, you can seek the right DNA and build a team of superior performers (see the DNA of a Peak Performer)
  3. Hire on gut feel – Intuition is a bad substitute for carefully and objectively evaluating potential hires, and avoiding bias-based mistakes like selecting someone because they are likeable, good looking, good at interviewing or share personality traits with the sales manager is critical if you want to make the right hire. Sales leaders who make hiring decisions based on feeling or brief assessments have remarkably poor hiring success rates, so this is a particularly good way to hire poor performing sales people.  Alternatively, a hiring manager with a structured hiring process will increase the chances of selecting overachieving sales people ( see The Top 3 Reasons to Have Structure in Your Sales Hiring Process)
  4. Have no on-boarding process –  One the best ways to ensure a new sales rep under performs, gets frustrated and/or leaves an employer is to provide them with no training, coaching or insight into how to sell a company’s products or the most effective ways to be successful. Alternatively, a sales manager can create a structured on-boarding process that sets new reps up to succeed (See The First 90 Days – Your Guide to Making New Sales Hires Produce Fast
  5. Expect your reps to be successful on their own – The assumption that  sales reps can be successful with little or no guidance is flawed – all reps, even the great ones, need to be led or they are likely to choose their own direction and under perform (see The Myth of The Self Managing Sales Rep). Alternatively, a sales manager can actively manage and lead reps to maximize their output.
  6. Avoid setting goals, communicate infrequently and refrain from holding reps accountable – One sure way to ensure poor sales results is to poorly communicate explicit goals and have an ad-hoc meeting schedule between the reps and the sales leader with infrequent pipeline reviews during which the reps are challenged to deliver strategies for success. Alternatively, a sales leader can ensure a high level of sales force performance by adopting the 7 Habits of Highly Effective Selling Organizations and the Habits of Highly Effective Sales Leaders. See also Top Sales Teams Have Quotas.
  7. Change their comp plan regularly – One of the biggest frustrations for sales reps which is often a cause for leaving an employer is frequent changes to the compensation plan that make it difficult to maintain a certain compensation level. To ensure top sales reps are distracted from selling by their compensation plan or seeking to join another employer, a sales manager can change the compensation plan quarterly or even annually (see 19 Simple Ways to Make Your Best Reps Leave). Alternatively, a sales manager can create a sales comp plan with all the Components of an Effective Sales Compensation Plan and ensure reps are happy and motivated to exceed targets.
  8. Change  direction even more regularly than comp plans – Another frustration for sales reps are frequent changes to the company and sales direction which require them to change the focus of their selling efforts and/or compromises the quality of the pipelines they have worked hard to create. This is a good way to ensure inferior sales results. Alternatively, a sales leader can pick a direction, stick to it and Be the Leader That People Choose.
  9. Never part ways with a poor performing rep – Another great way to foster poor performance is to keep sales people long after they have proven they are not capable of meeting quota and contributing to the success of the sales force. This will also have the effect of annoying customers and fellow employees so there will be a strong multiplier effect at work. Alternatively, the sales manager can decided when it is time to part ways with a rep and make the hard decision to move on (see Ten Signs You Need to Part Ways with Your Sales Rep)
  10. Don’t foster a culture of success – A great way to ensure that your team never meets or exceeds quota is to invest little in creating a winning attitude on your team. Reps will form bad habits and slide into a mindset of mediocrity. Alternatively, a hiring manager can consistently exceed targets by Building a Culture of Success.

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Eliot Burdett

CEO at Peak Sales Recruiting
Before Peak, Eliot spent more than 20 years building and leading companies, where he took the lead in recruiting and managing high performance sales teams. He co-founded Ventrada Systems (mobile applications) and GlobalX (e-commerce software). He was also Vice President of Sales for PointShot Wireless.

Eliot received his B. Comm. from Carleton University and has been honored as a Top 40 Under 40 Award winner.

He co-authored Sales Recruiting 2.0, How to Find Top Performing Sales People, Fast and provides regular insights on sales team management and hiring on the Peak Sales Recruiting Blog.

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