Take Empathy Out of the Sales Hiring and Selection Process

If an applicant is a good candidate for a sales management position, does that make the applicant a good candidate for a sales position?

A very strong sales management candidate was assessed – as a sales manager – and was recommended.  The client, with a very small sales force, wants the sales manager to sell 50% of the time and wishes to know whether the sales manager would have been recommended for a sales position at his company.

There are two sides to this argument.  On the positive side, if a candidate is strong (lots of supporting strengths) then the candidate is strong and the candidate is skilled then the candidate is skilled. On the negative side of the argument, it doesn’t correlate that if one has strong desire and commitment for sales management success that one would also have strong desire and commitment for sales success.  In fact, the individual probably would not have them.  If an individual felt strongly enough about success in sales, then that person would be looking for a sales, and not a sales management position.

We see many avoidable hiring mistakes like:

  • not recommended but we’ll take a chance (75% fail in six months)
  • not recommended but let’s create a junior position for bench strength (really bench weakness)
  • not recommended for this role so let’s hire for another sales role (not very brilliant)
  • recommended but with conditions, they ignore the conditions (if we don’t look are the conditions still there?)
  • not assessed because they know the candidate (and the familiarity makes the candidate more likely to succeed?)
  • assess only one candidate every quarter or so (no pool? not even best available? Chronic compromising)

Smart, effective, consistent sales hiring is a best practice.  You wouldn’t dare to deviate from your operational best practices so why deviate when it comes to salespeople?

In tonight’s Red Sox-Rays game the Rays Manager, Joe Madden, pulled his starting pitcher, Matt Garza, with a five-run lead, with two outs in the fifth inning.  Garza was only one out away from qualifying for the win but Madden didn’t care whether his starter got the statistic he wanted.  Garza had already allowed two home runs to David Ortiz, the next batter, and Madden was more interested in winning the game.  Empathy was not a factor.

Take empathy out of your sales recruiting and selection process and you’ll be more consistent than ever.