This fall, I’ve been helping companies in Los Angeles and Chicago hire salespeople. We found several good candidates in Chicago and final interviews are this week. But in LA, it’s been a struggle to even find applicants. When some leaders can’t find good applicants, they feel they must fill the seat and tend to go with the “best available”, which is often not very good.
The Dave Kurlan article below looks at just how bad they might be. And the results are ugly: Companies hire the wrong sales people 77% of the time. But think about it: would you “settle” for an adequate accountant, a passable engineer or a fair operations person? Why “settle” for a decent salesperson instead of a quota crusher? The data in the article that follows shows that, for even the easiest sales positions, only 14% of candidates were recommended. But the recommendation rate for the most difficult positions has increased 5% of the last 5 years.
Data Shows That Only 14% are Qualified for the Easiest Selling Roles
Lays Potato Chips. Movie Theater Popcorn. Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies. BBQ Ribs. Fudge Brownies. Rolos (a personal favorite from years ago). All junk food which, after having the first one, you just can’t stop there. You must have more. Lays even had that as a slogan back in the late 60’s – “Bet you can’t eat just one.” Back then I couldn’t stop at one.
Last week I wrote an article that said companies are hiring the wrong salespeople 77% of the time. It was very popular and there was a great discussion on LinkedIn but similar to the junk food, you couldn’t read that one article and move to another subject. You need to have some more.
That article was filled with data to illustrate the differences between good salespeople versus those who actually get hired most of the time. It was ugly and there were questions about the 77% like, “Where does that come from?”
Some of the supporting data came from the CSO Insights 2018 Sales Talent Study. Some of it came from Objective Management Group’s evaluations and assessments of 1.8 million salespeople. And I’m going to show you some data that most people never get to see. Take a look at these wild numbers!
In the first graph, you can see the overall recommendation rate from 2014 through mid-November of 2018 from OMG’s Sales Candidate Assessments.
While the overall rate varies by no more than 4 percentage points over the past 5 years, from a low of 37% to a high of 41% the overall rate is very deceiving.
OMG has 5 levels of difficulty and the criteria for a recommendation becomes more rigorous as the difficulty of the role increases. There are as many as 11 second-level customizations that could cause a candidate to be not recommended if their sales DNA doesn’t support a required selling activity. And there is a third-level of customization that can override the criteria and customizations above to alter a recommendation.
Between the sliding scale and two additional levels of customization, it’s very impressive that the overall rate hasn’t varied by more than 4% over the past 5 years. Let’s review the recommendation rates for all 5 difficulty levels.
The first two columns on the left show the overall recommendation rates that appeared in the graph above. The overall rates are the averages across all ten columns for each year. There are 2 types of recommendations – recommended (continue with the interview process) and worthy of consideration (continue if there aren’t enough candidates that were recommended) – for each difficulty level. So that’s 10 ratios to track per year.
These are some of the ratios that stand out for me:
Notice the low recommendation rates for the last three years for the roles with the least difficulty (columns 3-4). You would think that it should be like the 2014 rate when 47% or nearly half of the candidates for those easy roles were recommended. Why is it so different now?
One possible reason is that in the past 4 years, thousands of BDR (top of the funnel) roles were filled with recent college graduates and a much smaller percentage of them qualify for any sales role than experienced salespeople. It’s not their lack of skills; it’s their unsuitable Sales DNA and/or their unsuitable Desire and Commitment for sales success.
The recommended rate for the most difficult roles has increased by 5% over the past 5 years and the biggest increase has occurred in 2018. With our help, companies have become more effective at targeting the caliber of salespeople that are required to perform in the most difficult roles. Their candidate pool is filled with many more top tier candidates than you would expect given the overall shortage of salespeople and the even more acute lack of great salespeople.
Most companies seek salespeople for roles of moderate difficulty yet only 19% of the candidates are recommended. When the company lacks the required number of recommended candidates, they dip into the bucket of worthies, thereby doubling the size of the candidate pool from which they can interview.
The problem is that with sales candidates in such short supply, companies who aren’t using OMG’s sales candidate assessments are actually hiring the other 60% who, as you should be aware by now, are all weak, score in the lowest 50 percentile, and under the best of circumstances, will not hit quota.
Most companies are unhappy that half of their salespeople suck but to a certain extent, they have accepted it as fact – the new normal. They look at the recommendation rates shown above and rationalize their situation by saying to themselves, “There aren’t many candidates out there and most of them won’t be recommended anyway so we’ll just keep doing what we’ve always done.” The definition of stupidity.
Sure, it takes patience and discipline to attract, assess, interview, select and on board salespeople who will succeed in their roles. But patience and discipline aren’t strangers to finance, manufacturing, operations, marketing, R & D, engineering, design, fulfillment, quality control, IT, IS, or most of the other functions and departments in a successful business.
So isn’t it time that we stop fooling ourselves and continuing to believe that sales is different and we have to accept the hand we are dealt? That thinking causes executives to have Cause a Rationalization for Aggravating Performance. CRAP. You can read more about CRAP in sales. More importantly, you can have access to the most accurate and predictive sales candidate assessment on the planet. Named Top Sales Assessment Tool for 7 consecutive years, you can be as confident about the salespeople you select as all of our clients are.
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