Management Resistance to Topgrading the Sales Force

I’ve posted often on the middle part of the sales recruiting process, the importance of the process itself, the importance of the phone screen, the importance of the assessment, the candidates’ reactions to the phone screen and the assessment, the first interview, etc.  Rarely, if ever, have I posted on the two components I wanted to address today.

Without a doubt, two parts of the process that clients have the most difficult time with come at the very beginning of the process; Identifying the flaws in their existing process and identifying what their salespeople must be able to do.  They have a hard time with the flaws because they don’t recognize them as flaws.  They believe that what they are doing is fine, it’s just the candidates that are wrong, which leads to the second problem; identifying what their candidate must be able to do.  They don’t seem to get it.  The ‘what’ in this case is not a job description as much as it’s an identification of the ‘who’ they must be able to call on, the ‘where’ to find them and the ‘how’ they go to market.  It includes things like who by title, size of company, amount of money they must ask for, amount of resistance they must overcome, length of the sell cycle, and about 15 other criteria.  These criteria become specs for the job posting which, if written correctly (the killer ad) will attract the right candidates into the pool.

So it’s no surprise to me that when the posting is wrong because they haven’t been able to identify what they need, the candidates are wrong too.  As a result, companies fail to select and hire the kind of salespeople who will succeed.

Companies often become frustrated with the process itself.  Some would rather hire anybody than wait for the right person to come along.  When they get frustrated they don’t follow the process and won’t listen to expert advice, defaulting instead to their old position of taking somebody they like, who fits the industry profile, rather than the other compromise, taking someone who was recommended by the assessment that they don’t particularly like and may not fit the industry profile.  What’s the difference?  Candidate number one hangs around too long because he fits so well both culturally and industry wise, despite failing to meet expectations.  Candidate number two performs well but doesn’t get the support he needs because the company doesn’t like him and their expectations are too low so he voluntarily leaves.

The latest Topgrading study of 507 managers that hire $100,000+ people revealed that, on average, companies waste $1.5 million and 150+ hours every time a C Player is hired.  Is it really that important to hire somebody when being patient and hiring the right person could save you $1.5 million and the frustration of having to start all over again in several months?  Do you really want that candidate who can’t close?  Do you really want that candidate who won’t prospect?  Do you really want that candidate who lacks commitment?  I know it’s a painful process.  I know you don’t want to start round three.  I know you want the position filled.  But you can’t force it just to get it over with and you can’t blame it on the candidate pool.  The more specific you are about what you want and need, the fewer candidates there will be who meet the criteria.  Period.  Be patient.  Your candidate may not be in the pool today but he may be there tomorrow.  Is giving up early really worth the possibility of making a $1.5 million mistake?

© Copyright 2008 Objective Management Group, Inc.