The Best Way to Get More Top Sales People

Many companies find that to achieve their business plans they have to steal market share away from their competition. This takes having the best sales team. It is common to talk to an owner and find that many of their salespeople do not have what it takes. However, they are not taking action to replace these under-performers because they do not feel they can find better talent. We have found that management and human resources are making some mistakes that reduces their pool of the best candidates by a whopping 50%.

First and foremost we recommend that management use an assessment tool on all candidates before they even look at the resume. A common misperception is that the best candidates will have the best resume. Our research indicates that by assessing candidates first you will increase your candidate pool by 50%. We are finding that many of the best candidates (or 50%) get screened out by human resources and management. We define the best candidates as those you would want to hire, will meet quotas, and will stay for a year or longer.

So why do the best candidates get screened out? First, fraud is on the rise, and many candidates are not honest on their resumes and/or are being taught by resume writers on how to glorify the truth. In addition, the people scanning the resumes are looking at the following information, which does not matter:

  • Formatting and attractiveness of the resumes
  • Accomplishments
  • Job Descriptions
  • Awards
  • Industry Experience
  • Hobbies
  • Words like developed, created, designed, introduced, engineered, analyzed

Information screeners need to look for but miss, mainly because they typically look at the resume for a minute or two and then fly to the next one:

  • Stated objective says “sales”, not “sales management” or “marketing”.
  • Termination pattern – Candidates who seem to exit jobs at the same time of year could suffer from an affliction similar to seasonal depression. Managers would have to pay much closer attention to the candidate at that time each year, aware that slumps would have their origin in that month.
  • Staying Power vs. Ramp-Up – Ramp-up time is the length of your sell cycle, plus the learning curve, plus 30 days. Staying power is the average length of time spent at the candidate’s 3 most recent positions. Let’s pretend that Ramp-Up = 9 months and Staying Power = 1 year. Subtract (in months) Ramp-Up from Staying Power (12- 9). The Return is 3. In other words, are you willing to invest 9 months of effort for a 3-month return? The answer should be no.

Examples of information usually not found in the resume, but critical to making a good hiring decision:

  • Total compensation and breakdown of salary vs. commission for each position.
  • Number of new accounts acquired, average revenue, and time period for each position.
  • Growth of existing accounts (Value on Day 1 vs. value at termination).
  • How both new and existing accounts were acquired, and the part the candidate really played
  • How much resistance the candidate really had to overcome
  • The pricing compared to the competition

We have found that if you do not have the right assessments, screening, interviewing, and on-boarding process you are not going to get the results you need.

Howard Shore is a business growth expert who works with companies that want to maximize their growth potential by improving strategy, enhancing their knowledge, and improving motivation. To learn more about him or his firm please contact Howard Shore at 305.722.7213 or