The Pitfalls of Hiring Sales Reps Quickly

Tempted by money

Every day I speak with irritated Sales and HR Leaders. By far their two biggest frustrations are: 1. Quality (“The reps we’re interviewing and hiring just aren’t the caliber that I expect”) and 2. Speed (“We need to hire people yesterday”). In today’s world, everyone wants it done faster, but there’s a danger in hiring sales reps quickly. In fact, we’ve noticed that many of the companies that fire quickly are the ones that hire quickly. This observation and what we’ve learned in helping a few of them fix their processes prompted this post. Here are a few tips to help avoid the pitfalls of hiring sales reps quickly.

The Pitfalls of Hiring Sales Reps Quickly.

Point #1: If you’re hiring quickly, you might be cutting corners.

The only way to get consistent results when hiring is to follow a set process. That’s true whether the process involves 3 interviews and reference checks or 2 interviews and a presentation. Don’t skip an interview, a reference call, etc. in the interest of time or because someone isn’t available. If you’re in a hurry to hire, set an interview or a presentation for after-hours or the weekend. You may need to inconvenience the team to do the process correctly. Skipping steps is the easy way and the fastest way to a mis-hire.

Point #2: Give your candidates enough time to vet your opportunity.

You should expect that your candidates are interviewing you and your company as much as you’re interviewing them. If they’re not, that’s a potential red flag as they may be running away from something vs. moving towards something better. Complicating this is an interview process that’s moving too quickly. Your candidate, either due to speed or a desire to get out of their current situation, will usually miss more than you do. I’ve had numerous candidates call me looking for me to represent them after only a few months at their current job. Their reason? “It just isn’t what I was sold.” Expect great candidates to have questions or that they will want to talk to several people within the organization. Is this the fastest way to make a hire? No, but it’s the only way to reliably and consistently hire top performers that stick.

Point #3: You may not be looking at the entire pool of candidates.

Hiring the right person is infinitely more important than quickly hiring from the pool of candidates that are in front of you. Our experience has shown us that the best candidates are usually passive in nature. They aren’t actively searching for a job; meaning that we have to track them down and sell them on your opportunity. Passive candidates are, by nature, more skeptical (they have something to lose) and will want to vet your opportunity (see point #2 above), which will take longer. In addition to interviewing the right type of candidates (passive ones), our experience with high performing companies reveals that they are interviewing 3-8 candidates to make one hire (save for instances where the hiring profile is very specific in which case you may only see 2-3). Anything less and you’re moving too quickly or are not being selective enough. More and you’re interviewing the wrong people or hastily discarding solid candidates.

Point #4: BUT… There is danger in dragging out the process as well!

Make sure you look at your interview process from the candidate’s standpoint as well. Are your steps evenly distributed with regular intervals? Is it too long and/or filled with unnecessary steps? Think of it like a restaurant. If you order 5 small plates and 4 come out all at once but the final plate takes an hour to arrive; you most likely will not leave satisfied. It’s common to see Sales Managers slow down the interview process simply because they are unsure. They’re not ready to cut the candidate and not ready to hire them. Rather than drag out the process, add an interview step specifically designed to address your concerns. Be thorough, be consistent and be decisive.

In sum, hiring is a fine balance: Hire too slowly and you may lose the candidate due to disinterest or to another opportunity. If you hire too quickly, you may be sacrificing valuable parts of the process. There’s truth to the adage “the devil is in the details.” The results, however, are well worth it. You can find more tips on How to Hire Top Sales Performers in our free eBook.

About Erik Gillespie

Erik Gillespie is a Senior Recruiter and our New Business Development Manager.  You can connect with him on LinkedIn @ linkedin.com/in/erikgillespie1.