Voices of CRM

Aug 19 2011   1:22PM GMT

Many sales teams make bad hires, need corporate insight to fix process

Rosemary Cafasso Profile: Rosecafasso

All the bells and whistles of sales force automation cannot fix a lousy sales hire – but more sales teams claim to be getting that message. 

Recent research on hiring practices by CSO Insights show that more than 42% of approximately 2,000 sales organizations surveyed in the Sales Performance Optimization 2011 report, reveal they believe their hiring process “needs improvement.”

That percentage is better than last year’s figure of 46%. Also, 7.3% of this year’s respondents said their hiring approach “exceeded expectations,” up from 5% in the previous year.

Barry Trailer, a managing partner at CSO Insights, a sales consultancy jointly based in Denver and San Francisco, said the results reflect an organization’s subjective view of how they see their own performances, rather than an independent evaluation.

Despite the upswing, the results show many organizations continue to fall victim to very basic hiring mistakes, such as unsophisticated interview practices involving the wrong questions and interviewers.

“A lot of folks still go by gut feeling or look for people who remind them of themselves,” said Trailer. “There’s a lot more to it than that.”

But the bad interviewing is really just a symptom of a bigger problem, he added. Many companies fail when hiring salespeople because they haven’t yet grasped their own sales process, nor do they understand how their customer relationships work.  

Trailer asserts that until a company can understand those issues they may persist in a repetitive cycle of bringing in the wrong salespeople.

CSO indentifies four levels of sales processes, starting with a “random process” in which no steps have been formalized, to a top-level “dynamic process” in which companies not only have formalized sales processes but are able to adjust them as circumstances change.

Companies need to identify not only where they are on the spectrum but where they realistically want to go. Then they should apply that knowledge to the hiring process to help zero in on candidates who will make a good fit.

Trailer noted that many companies now rely on personality testing and other compatibility assessments during the interview process. He stopped short of recommending these tools, noting that he has seen “mixed results.”

Again, if a company doesn’t understand its own sales operations or customer interactions, all the psychological revelations in the world will not guarantee the right person for the sales job, Trailer said.

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