If you’re a sales leader or have experience with sales recruiters, you know that screening candidates can feel like online dating. You click through people who’ve matched with you to see if they meet your requirements (review resumes and LinkedIn profiles). When their qualities align with what you want, you reach out and go on a date (conduct an interview). If you hit it off, you make plans to see each other again (set up a panel interview). After you’re sure you’re compatible, you enter a committed relationship (hire).
But a great first date doesn’t always lead to marriage, or even a decent second date. You realize you don’t have much in common beyond what you talked about when you first met. Or you observe less-than-desirable personality traits. In dating, it’s usually a relatively small issue. Not so with hiring. You lose resources when you add the wrong person to your team. It prolongs the amount of time your business is without a competent sales professional, resulting in even more lost opportunities.
The Top 4 Hiring Mistakes You Must Avoid
You can probably find a candidate who is “good enough” for your open position. But you don’t want average (in dating or at work). You want someone who exceeds your expectations. To fill your open position with the best candidate, you need to look past the stellar profile (resume or LinkedIn profile), dazzling smile (cover letter) or brilliant first date (interview). Here are 4 mistakes you should avoid.
1. Not casting a wide enough net
Turns out the phrase “There are plenty of fish in the sea” applies to hiring too. But you’ll never see all the possibilities if you only consider LinkedIn. Consider these options as you search for candidates:
- Directly sourcing from your competitors
- Networking groups or tradeshows those candidates may be a part of
- Partnering with an organization that specializes in your industry and/or sales recruiters
Ask if all your requirements are critical for success
Your date doesn’t really need to like every single movie you do, and not every role needs to be filled by someone who has worked in your specific industry for 10+ years. Sure, some roles do need a certain combination of experience and education. But people can, and do, apply what they’ve learned at other positions to a new job.
2. Making decisions based mainly on the interview
A good interview with an unqualified candidate is worse than a deceptively great first date. You’ll figure out by date 2 or 3 if you actually have chemistry with your potential soulmate. But if you’re overly reliant on that interview, you could end up hiring a sales professional who isn’t a good fit for your company.
There is less than a 25% correlation between a good interview and actual job performance
In other words, even sales managers who are skilled at questioning don’t uncover the best candidates during the interview process. They let internal biases – like shared interests or experiences – unconsciously cloud their judgement. Or they overlook a highly qualified candidate who was nervous and didn’t give the best performance.
They looked nothing like their profile picture
You want to believe what a candidate tells you during the interview, but people aren’t always totally honest about past experiences (or profile pictures). There’s an easy way to avoid being sold on someone who isn’t an ideal fit: use evaluations. At ProActivate, we help clients find the best, most qualified candidates through our in-depth, customized qualification process that focuses on a combination of skillset, mindset and simulation evaluations.
3. Overlooking mindset
You probably don’t sign up for a second date with a Negative Nancy or Pessimistic Peter type – no matter how attractive they are. But too many companies are willing to hire highly skilled sales professionals, even if they have a negative outlook. That’s a mistake. Success is 80% mindset, 20% skillset. Studies have shown that optimists outsell their pessimistic counterparts. Positive people are also more productive, creative and energetic, and it’s why we place an emphasis on Peak Performance Mindset.
Use the interview to tell if your sales professional possesses a Peak Performance Mindset
When you have a sales team with Peak Performance Mindset, you experience less turnover. The team performs at a higher level because they’re able to identify and resolve issues. They’re more collaborative, confident and resilient. Ask questions about how they’ve overcome obstacles to see if they’re:
- Problem solvers
- Creative and quick on their feet
4. Not asking for help
Friends and family will spot flaws in your partner you don’t see. At work, you can avoid hiring blind spots by involving other people from your leadership team in the process. When you’re the only one involved in selecting sales professionals, it is challenging to find the perfect candidate for your team. You might let biases influence your decision or second-guess yourself with questions like Are they really qualified for this position? Are they being honest about their experiences? To start making the best sales executive hiring decisions, enlist help from your team. You can do it before you post a job and during the interview process.
Get input from your team before you post an opening
When crafting a job description, ask the team what they think it takes to succeed at your organization. Categorize their answers around:
- Unique skills
- Specialized knowledge
Use a hiring panel during the interview stage
Another way to push past biases and conduct more robust interviews is to consider a panel approach. As you involve your coworkers, communicate your expectations and selection criteria for potential sales professionals.
This slows down the process and helps you avoid a “shotgun marriage” between you and a sales professional. After all, rapid decisions can lead to hiring a sales professional who has the wrong skills or is a bad cultural fit – or worse, they have the wrong skills and they’re a bad fit! Remember the point above about it taking until date 2 or 3 to figure out if that spark is the real deal? Take your time and go through a full evaluation to see if they’re a good match for your company.
Let Sales Recruiters Play Matchmaker for Your Business
Going on a few bad dates is annoying, but at least you might get an amusing story out of it. Choosing the wrong sales professional can have serious consequences to your bottom line. At ProActivate, our sales recruiters can help you avoid pitfalls, so you find that perfect match the first time. Reach out to us today.