How to Hire Sales People Under Pressure

(or How to Hire a Dud Salesperson)

PressureOne of the most common mistakes made in hiring salespeople is hiring under pressure.

I wish I could give you some tricks to improve the odds of hiring successfully under pressure. The fact is that, short of using lucky fairy dust, the odds of making a successful sales hire under pressure is less than 1 in 5.

  To understand why hiring top sales performers takes time, compare hiring under pressure to trying to make quota on the last day of the month.

There you are on the last day of the month, one big sale away from making goal and collecting your bonus. But anyone with an ounce of experience in sales knows the odds of succeeding are not good. Yes, it’s possible. (And we sales types are optimistic by nature.) But the odds are low of making quota on the last day of the month.

“Having studied the problem for years, I think it comes down to a question of too much pressure.”

Let’s try to imagine the problem with making the big sale on the last day of the month. First of all, you don’t have enough time to really prospect for the most likely buyers. And second, you will unconsciously be applying too much sales pressure. Pressure doesn’t work, but your bonus is at stake so you apply a bit too much urgency.

Same thing with trying to hire under pressure. Our research shows hiring a top performer means you need to filter through 25 applicants. Filtering means more than “I’m only talking to them if they have previous sales experience or not.”

From those 25 applicants, you then need to get down to 3 who you will interview intensively. And by interviewing intensively I mean conducting at least 3 – and preferably 4, well-planned interviews with each of those applicants.

Our research shows that it takes four interviews to really get to know whether the applicant really did all the things they claimed they did.

Hiring well is one the most profitable activities a sales manager does. Our research also shows, unfortunately it is the thing that tends to get left until last. Hence the average sales manager’s rather unspectacular record as a sales hirer.

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