17 January 2024 |

why hiring sucks

By Gabrielle "GB" Blackwell

We’re not very good, are we?

Did you know that basically all sales managers – specifically 91% of sales managers – see hiring as one of their top 5 priorities?

Not a surprising stat since sales managers are literally hiring all 👏the 👏time!

But what’s fascinating – aka highly problematic – is how only 75% of sales managers and directors are only somewhat or not confident in their ability to assess candidates for the most important traits. 

Excuse me while I pick my jaw up off the floor.

Yep, you read that right – despite hiring being a full time priority, the vast majority of sales managers still feel like they don’t know what they’re doing. Which, if I’m being really freaking honest, is hilarious.

Let’s face the facts here…

Sales managers – by virtue of our roles – are always acutely aware of the money coming into the business. We have forecasting calls, pipeline reviews, and dashboards upon dashboards to show how we and our teams are impacting revenue. 

BUT…where are the dashboards showing how much sales teams are COSTING the business because of poor hiring practices? 

Oh yeah, we’re not great stewards of capital when each sales mishire carries a cost of anywhere between $50K to $500K. 🤯

How do I know if I have a problem?

I’ve been in a lot of hiring cycles over the past six-ish years, so I’ve seen the good, the bad, and a lot of ugly when it comes to sales hiring practices.

One thing I know for sure is this though – no company and no manager in the world is perfect when it comes to hiring. 

A mishire can happen to the best, most seasoned manager in the world. 

The only difference between a really great sales hiring manager and a not so great sales hiring manager is their frequency and volume of mishires.

To know whether you’re doing hiring right – or not – I’d recommend reviewing:

  • Time to ramp
  • Time to coaching or performance improvement plan
  • Percentage of reps hitting quota

Let’s break these down…

Time to ramp how long does it take your reps to get to full productivity?

Unless your average sales cycle is a year long, reps really shouldn’t take more than 3-6 months to get to full productivity.

Time to coaching or performance improvement plan – how quickly are reps landing on a plan after their ramp period?

If it’s a common occurrence for new hires to be on a coaching plan or PIP shortly after coming off their ramp, then you may have a sales hiring problem!

Percentage of reps hitting quota – how many reps are actually hitting their number?

A lot of sales managers can hide behind poor hiring practices because they hired one superstar who contributes 2-3x the next top performer. So yeah, that manager can hit their team target while 80% of their team isn’t earning their full OTE. 

If you have a team where less than 60% of your reps aren’t producing at a satisfactory rate, this may indicate a need to revisit hiring practices.

What’s to blame?

When it comes to sales hiring mistakes, here’s what I really believe is to blame:

  • Ill-thought-out interview processes 
  • Conflicts of interest with Talent Acquisition team
  • Setting unclear and/or unrealistic expectations with candidates
  • Imbalance of power between hiring manager and senior leaders

In next week’s newsletter, I’ll dig more into these culprits and what to do about them…but for now, I’ll leave you with this sneak peek…

A look into next week

The reason I believe sales hiring is so riddled with problems is because there’s no forcing function to improve hiring as a practice in most organizations. 

So often, sales managers are just given a revenue and a headcount number, a pat on the back, and told “good luck” or “go get em tiger”. 

VPs and Senior Leaders aren’t aware of how to improve hiring processes because they’re not tracking hiring effectiveness or measuring how much it’s costing when mishires are made.

Without a measure of accountability in place, sales managers may inadvertently be set up to fail at hiring.

But it doesn’t have to be that way…we as sales managers just have to know how to do better.