The three most common sales hiring mistakes which result in sub-optimal sales hires, missed targets, and staff turnover.
1. Poor understanding of selling environment
2. Unstructured hiring process
3. Not looking in the right places

To read a transcript of this video click here…

Full transcript of the interview.

Avoiding the Three Most Common Sales Hiring Mistakes – Peak Sales Recruiting

Eliot Burdett: Hi, I’m Eliot Burdett, a partner at Peak Sales Recruiting.

I want to talk to you about the three mistakes that companies typically make in their sales hiring.

The first is, not understanding their own selling environment.

When we’re talking about a selling environment, we mean the different characteristics that make your sales environment, or the environment that your sales reps work in, different from that of any other company.

So we talk about things like your selling process, any sales methodology, the price of your product, the sales cycle and the customer’s buying cycle, the different way you promote your product, the maturity of your market, the maturity of your customer, the market share, your positioning in the market and the amount of support that your team has.

All of these factors, combined with the culture of your company, make your selling environment different from another company and therefore make the type of person that you’re looking for, often, very different in terms of the attributes that they have to have to be successful in your company.

So, that’s the first thing: knowing your own selling environment.

The second thing is having a structured hiring process that allows you to compare apples to apples.

So, unfortunately, a lot of hiring managers hire on gut, and I think there’s a lot of halo effect that, you know, a smile and a sunny disposition, translates into a successful salesperson.

Unfortunately, that’s just not the case.

The more you can; when you’re interviewing salespeople and, what I’ve said before is, it often feels like you’re peeling an onion with a thousand layers, because salespeople are conditioned to tell you the types of things that you want to hear. They’re conditioned to do that in their selling, and they’re going to do it in the interviews.

What you want to know is what they’re really all about; what kind of selling environment they’re uniquely suited to succeed in.

And so our selling process is all about; sorry, our interview process, which involves everything from different types of screening, to behavioral interviewing, to different kinds of background checks and very thorough, structured background checks.

All of that, combined with score sheets and criteria sheets, allows us to make sure that we are comparing apples to apples and comparing different candidates objectively rather than looking at each and hiring based on gut feel or how we feel on a certain day, and being attracted to the wrong things.

So that second thing is really important: having structure in your hiring process.

And then the third way that many companies make mistakes in sales hiring is hiring who’s available rather than the right person.

So, it’s very typical for companies to go out to the job boards and post an ad and then interview the people that come back.

But unfortunately, a lot of the time, the people that come back from job board postings are the people that are looking for jobs. And, unfortunately, they’re often the wrong people.

They’re the people that are either out of work or hoping to get a job. And what you want, when you’re hiring, it’s really critical that you get the right person. In this kind of economy, you’re looking for the person who not only has the right attributes but is also a reliable performer and can show you; give you the proof that they are able to succeed in your selling environment.

And, usually, reliable performers are working somewhere. Which means you’re gonna have to; they’re not gonna see your ad because they’re going to be busy selling and making money.

What you’re going to need to do is go out and find them and get them exposed to your opportunity and make sure that they are aware of it and potentially excited about it so that if your company is a better opportunity for them; better career opportunity for them to work for your company, they’re aware of it and they can make the move.

So, those are the three ways: having a clear understanding of what you’re looking for; your own selling environment; what you’re looking for.

The second thing is having structure in your sales hiring process.

And the third thing is to hire the right person, not who’s available.

I hope those tips are useful to you. Good luck with your sales hiring. I hope we get a chance to work together. Thank you.

(text on screen): For more sales management and hiring tips, visit our blog at:

Evaluating Potential Sales Hires


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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