3 Common Mistakes Recruiters Make When Hiring Sales Professionals

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3 Common Mistakes Recruiters Make When Hiring Sales Professionals

If you're a recruiter or small business owner, you know that finding the right job candidate takes time and effort. However, it's not just about finding someone with the right skills; it's finding someone who will fit into your company culture. These factors are especially true when hiring your sales team because these individuals will not only interact with your team daily, but they will also be interacting with and representing your company to new clients.

It's vitally important that every sales team member has excellent communication skills, can relate well to prospective clients, and cares about furthering your organization's goals. These characteristics can often be difficult to judge in the talent acquisition process, which often leads recruiters to make these three common mistakes.


The Problem

Sales professionals work in one of your company's most visible job positions. They spend most of their time communicating with clients and prospects that don't know anything about your organization. Due to the nature of their role, they are a representative of your company to those who have yet to hear of your company. If they do not individually align well with your brand and its goals, this can reflect poorly on your organization.

Think about it like this:  If you interact with an individual from a particular organization and find them to be abrasive, lazy, or inattentive, it is less likely that you will want to work with the organization in the future, and you will likely attach those feelings to the brand. Even though you've only interacted with that one individual, they can have lasting effects on your perception of the overall organization.

So, when hiring for sales roles, you need to be exceptionally confident that you are hiring the right type of person. If the hire is not align with your company culture, is unwilling to adapt to your sales processes, and is not passionate about your company or product, it is likely not going to work out. The right type employee adapts to your way of doing things while suggesting areas for improvement and innovation, gets along well with coworkers, and shows genuine passion and pride for the product or service they are selling.


Mistake 1: Hiring primarily based on company culture fit

One big mistake we see sales recruiters making is focusing entirely on the cultural fit of their prospective hires. As mentioned, how well an individual fits into your company is incredibly important, but putting an overwhelming weight on the cultural fit will cause you to hire inexperienced and sometimes ineffective candidates.

Focusing on the culture fit can ultimately lead to a lack of diversity within your organization, giving you a homogenous workforce that lacks representation in terms of gender, race, ethnicity, and other characteristics. Diversity leads to varying perspectives and ideas, which are vital for company growth. Hiring someone just because they will fit in well can lead to a lack of these different ideas, causing the company to plateau or stagnate. Another thing to note is that if a recruiter is too focused on culture fit, they may reject otherwise qualified candidates who do not fit the desired culture. This can result in a smaller pool of candidates to choose from, effectively making it more challenging to find the overall best fit for the role.

While cultural fit is an important factor in hiring, it should not be the sole criteria in hiring decisions. It is essential to weigh culture as an additional perk to a candidate's skills, experience, and qualifications to ensure that the best candidate is selected for the role.


Mistake 2: Not assessing target market competencies

Sales professionals who are not well-suited to the organization's target market may have difficulty building relationships with potential customers, as they may not be able to effectively communicate the value of the organization's products or services to them. This relationship-building difficulty can lead to a lower success rate in closing deals and meeting sales targets. Fortunately, the reverse of this is true as well.

Matching sales professionals' competencies to the organization's target market can positively impact sales. Those who are knowledgeable about and experienced in selling to the target market are more likely to succeed in their role. They will be able to understand the needs and preferences of the target market and the competitive landscape, while analyzing market trends. This understanding will allow them to tailor their sales pitch and approach to persuade potential customers to purchase the organization's products or services.

Direct experience may not be necessary as some of the best candidates will have the right skills and competencies to perform well with that audience regardless. For example, the candidate may not have direct experience in your market or with your target audience. However, they may have similar experiences with sales cycle length, sales process, type and number of decision makers involved in the process. To better address competencies in the recruitment process, we’d recommend using custom assessments and questions based on your target market's key competencies.


Mistake 3: Hiring strictly based on their resume and not considering their character

Recruiters in many different industries can have the tendency to drift into strictly resume-based hiring eventually. While this method will give you recruits with the proper training and experience, it will not provide you with candidates with the suitable characteristics or personality fit for your organization.

Hiring based on skills and experience will only make your business lose out on some highly effective prospects as a person's character can have a significant impact on their job performance. For example, sales professionals with strong character traits such as honesty, integrity, effort, and persistence are more likely to succeed in their roles. In addition, an individual's character can strongly affect customer relationships and retention, as well as dynamics within your own organization.

To address this mistake, in your next interview with a sales professional, ask them more scenario-based questions and evaluate how they answer them. For example, ask them about a time they had to deal with a challenging customer or coworker and how they collaborated with their team to solve that challenge. This will help identify ways in which the individual can be both empathetic and professional with potential clients and coworkers through their interactions with you as the recruiter.


Overall, recruiters need to take the time to thoroughly understand the requirements of the sales position and the needs of the company in order to carefully assess and select candidates who are a good fit and have the potential to succeed in the role. Hiring based strictly on cultural fit will create a homogenized workforce while hiring based strictly on work experience can create a less positive work environment, while considering target market competencies can greatly improve the sales team's efficiency.

As a recruiter, it is your responsibility to properly weigh each of these factors as you evaluate potential candidates - in doing so, you will create a sales team that is positive, motivating and effective. Once you find that perfect fit, set them up for success with proper sales training, support, and ongoing performance management.


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About The Author: Abin Dahal is the Sales Operations Manager at Funnel Clarity. Funnel Clarity is a sales performance training and consulting company, dedicated to producing real results in sales performance. Funnel Clarity is using the science of sales to increase revenue and profits for our clients and to change buyer culture to view salespeople as trustworthy, credible, and capable. They are dedicated to sales and the buyer journey, and provide resources and training opportunities to those at every level of the sales industry.


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