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How to Hire the Best Salespeople

Hiring the wrong salesperson is too costly to simply shrug and try again

By Michael E. Hackett and M. Jonathan Hackett 

When recruiting the best salespeople the devil is in the details. Your "gut feeling" about an applicant is no guarantee of success. Nor is the practice for "throwing mud up on a wall and seeing what sticks." Successful sales recruiting is all about paying close attention to the details. Studying and carefully defining what you want, asking the right questions and listening critically for the right answers. The stakes are too high to fill an open sales position with a warm body just to keep your budgeted sales positions filled. It would be much better to have fewer positions filled with successful sales people than to run the risk of a costly error in hiring a salesperson who will never deliver on their quota.

What is the cost of a bad sales hire? Well, you can do the math for yourself. On average it takes three to four months to find the "right" salesperson. It may take another two to four months for the new salesperson to be trained and begin producing. If the salesperson does not perform; it may take another four to six months to identify the problem, document their poor performance and get them out the door. So conservatively, you are looking at a loss of a good 12 months of sales. When considering the salesperson’s total compensation, cost of recruiting, cost of training, and the cost of a 12 months loss in sales, it becomes shockingly apparent that there is little room for error when recruiting and hiring the right sales people.

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