Selling Power Blog

News & Insights for B2B Sales Leaders

March 11, 2021

Five Reasons Companies Fail to Hire Top Sales Talent

By Andy Miller, CEO, Big Swift Kick

We all know that hiring the wrong salesperson is expensive. Research shows that high-tech companies lose as much as $2 million per year on a bad sales hire. They lose revenue, damage reputation, impact market share, and hurt the culture to name a few.

Below are five reasons many companies fail to hire top salespeople.

1. Inaccurate promotion of the job

Many companies have failed to review and update how the sales position has changed due to a change in strategy, new products/services, working virtually, etc. This contributes to unintentionally misleading job ads.

Interviewers tend to put on a positive spin on the position, opportunity, and/or market position and avoid any dirty laundry for a more attractive presentation.

Is it a surprise that 61% of new hires say the realities of the position differ from the expectations set during the interview process?

2. Poor approach to sourcing candidates

We informally surveyed 200 sales managers and asked them where they found their best sales talent. The number one source was referrals at 47%, yet companies offer no or low referral fee.

For recruiting online (job boards, job search engines, and social media) accounts for 72% of all externally sourced hires.

3. Gut-based selection process

Research shows most interviewers subconsciously make a go/no-go decision in the first five minutes of each interview. That barely gives candidates enough time to make small talk before the interviewer has sealed their fate.

Gut instinct favors style and likeability over substance, objectivity, and hard data.

If you just trust your gut, you’ll make poor hiring decisions. Your accuracy of picking a successful candidate by gut is 38%.

4. Improper use of assessments

Of all the different candidate selection methods, the number one predictor of a sales candidate’s success is an assessment!

You can increase your ability to identify high-performing salespeople by as much as 91% using the correct type of assessment. But it can’t be just any assessment.

We looked at 39 so-called sales assessments and disqualified 36 for lack of predictive validation, including Myers-Briggs (MBTI) and DISC.

Here is what you need to ask every assessment company. Is this specifically designed to measure salespeople? Does it have multi-measurements (not just behavior, personality, skills, or attributes)? Are the questions asked in a sales context? Can they provide the technical manual that has proof of “predictive validation” by an independent third party?

5. Lack of structured interviews

Companies need to shift from unstructured to structured interviews. A highly structured interview requires predetermined questions and a rating scale to measure and compare candidate answers.

Also, interviewers receive training on how to interview and recognize the 10 types of interview bias. Highly structured interviews have a predictive accuracy of 57%.

I hope this gives you some ideas on how to hire stronger salespeople. If you would like a free consultation I can be reached at Get a free copy of our Guide for Hiring the Best Salespeople here.

Headshot of Andy Miller

Today's post is by Andy Miller, CEO at Big Swift Kick.