Top 5 Reasons You Don’t Get More Strong Sales Candidates

Dave Kurlan is a top-rated keynote speaker, best-selling author, sales thought leader and expert on all things sales and selling.

Clients frequently ask about the percentage of candidates recommended by Objective Management Group’s (OMG) Sales Candidate Assessment and why it is so low. When clients are feeling the urgency to hire salespeople and too many candidates are not getting recommended, their knee-jerk reaction is to change the customized criteria on the role configuration so that more candidates can be recommended.  In this case, “more” would mean more like the ones they already have instead of more like the stronger ones they said they wanted to hire

There are many possible reasons why a large percentage of candidates are not being recommended.  Here are some to consider:

  1. Expectations – Clients expect at least half of the candidates to be recommended so the actual percentage is low compared to expectations.  The actual percentage depends on the level of difficulty for the role and the custom requirements specified by the client.  See the normal range of recommended sales candidates.
  2. Compensation – Clients often set the difficulty level of the job really high, hoping to get an extremely strong salesperson.  But they fail to change the compensation, keeping it the same as what they were paying mediocre salespeople.  The result is that only mediocre salespeople apply for the position and when the strong ones don’t apply, they can’t take the assessment or get recommended!
  3. Customization – Clients go crazy specifying custom criteria and then they don’t include the criteria in the job posting.  Then mediocre salespeople apply for the job and don’t meet the criteria in the assessment.  The requirements should be included in the job posting!
  4. Contradictions – Criteria that only a strong, experienced salesperson could possibly possess is included in the job posting.  But so is compensation consistent with a mediocre salesperson.  Result?  A reduction in the overall number of candidates because the pool of candidates who meet both the criteria AND can live with the limited compensation is very small.
  5. Industry-Specific – Many executives still believe that their next salesperson must come from their industry.  For some reason, the very people who feel that way, tend to be from the industries that have the worst salespeople.  Nobody gets recommended!
  6. Profiling – (I know the title said “Top 5”, but it sounds better than “Top 7”.)  Clients create an image of the salesperson they want that makes it sound like profiling.  They want someone young (not EEOC compliant, of course), with a degree, 5 years experience, motivated, energetic, memorable, attractive, well-dressed, professional, trustworthy, and polished.  What does all that have to do with selling effectiveness?  The only one of those 11 items that will impact sales is whether or not they are trustworthy.  Of course, the posting attracts the very candidates that are like this and the wrong salespeople send their resumes and most aren’t recommended!
  7. Bad Memory – Clients quickly forget why they chose this assessment in the first place.  They were sick and tired of hiring salespeople who don’t work out.  Better to identify the right salespeople in the first place rather than roll the dice.  That good, confident feeling lasts about a month and when the position isn’t filled, they long for the good old days when they could fool themselves for a few months while they hope that their latest gamble pans out.

If you want better salespeople, you need to do the work to make sure you attract better salespeople.  You must also exhibit patience while waiting for the right strong salespeople to come along.  They may not be in your first or second round of candidates.

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