Gut or Guts

I can’t tell you how many times I’m involved in discussions with clients over gut. No typo there. They say, “My gut tells me to go with him.” They say, “My gut says she’ll do great.” So many in sales management roles make hiring decisions with their gut. When management lacks any other intelligence with which to make the decision, it’s understandable that they would rely on their gut. However, let’s face it. Most sales managers and HR professionals have a less than wonderful track record when it comes to hiring salespeople who will over achieve, people they hired with their gut. So why would they rely on their gut now?

The problem becomes more acute when we arm the management team with more intelligence than they ever had before: the results of a sales specific, pre-employment assessment that clearly spells out, in plain English, exactly how the candidate will perform in a this particular sales role in this particular company. With 95% accuracy, it tells the manager whether the candidate is hirable, based not only on our criteria, but on the client’s criteria as well. It shouldn’t be surprising then, based on the miserable track record we just discussed, that the criteria that most candidates fail to meet, is the client’s. Armed with this powerful and insightful information, it boggles my mind that a manager would want to override this objective, accurate information to rely instead on his previously unreliable gut instinct. Let’s add one word to the previous sentence; if we place ‘ineffective’ before ‘manager’ then this behavior would no longer surprise me, would it?

It takes guts to use gut to override a criteria one established to raise the bar. When presented with the statistics: 74% of all candidates not recommended by this assessment fail within one year, it also takes a bad case of brainitis – inflammation of the thinking lobe of the brain. Sorry, I made that one up but I’m not making up the lack of judgement that these sales managers use.

While history proves that the gut is unreliable for predicting sales success and science provides accurate information to predict sales success, the smart, modern sales manager must take advantage of that information until he can prove that his gut is more reliable than science. Are you a smart, modern manager or a gutsy manager who relies on gut?