Why Bad Salespeople Get Hired

A friend told me over lunch about a sales rep he hired the previous year. He sold seven times the industry average of $1million at his previous company. At $7million in sales, he was a superstar. My friend (the CEO) and one of his Sales Managers snatched this sales rep up with great expectation.

After several months of ramp up they quickly noticed that he was not selling… anything. Confused, they investigated the marketplace, competitive landscape, economic conditions, etc. Nothing appeared to be out of the ordinary. Their other sales reps were doing well, but he wasn’t. The sales rep failed to build a pipeline with which to set appointments and develop sales opportunities. This salesperson didn’t just fail to meet his sales quota, he sold absolutely nothing! He sold $0.00… the entire year.  The bad salespeople syndrome severly inflicted my friend.

I asked for his sales rep to take our xPlore Sales Assessment to assess his sales personality, sales motivation and sales mentality. I knew I could find the source of the problem. My desperate friend agreed to have his sales rep take the assessment. The results showed this salesperson should have never been hired for an outside sales role. Without giving an analysis of the results, I simply asked my friend a question:

Did your sales rep acquire $7 million in new sales at his last job or did he inherit $7 million in existing business?

My friend stared at me with a blank look on his face. After a few moments of silence, he admitted that he never drilled down into the details of his sales rep’s previous sales success. During the hiring process, he assumed that the sales rep amassed all of those sales and new customers on his own. (Later on, my friend found out that this sales rep inherited a large customer base from the previous sales rep who was promoted to a Sales Director position in another division of the company.)

My friend actually hired a Farmer instead of a Hunter. The assessment results clearly showed that this salesperson would never, ever prospect for new business. He was (and always would be) a cultivator of existing accounts based on pre-existing relationships. In essence, he was a warm-call sales rep.

My friend just shook his head in dismay. He spent $180,000 in salary. He lost even more in opportunity costs.

Bad salespeople come in many forms. The lesson here is clear: every sales candidate possesses a specific set of capacities. As a result, some salespeople align better with certain sales jobs. Others do not. Within the realm of professional selling there are many different types of jobs and they are not all the same. Therefore, you must ensure that your sales candidate has the capacities and motivations that align with what the job requires. Otherwise, you end up like my friend.

Only a sophisticated sales assessment unmasks these hidden attributes of bad salespeople and provide you with the intelligence you need to make a well-informed hiring decision – no matter how well the candidate interviewed or the level of experience on their résumé.


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