Building Winning Sales Teams: To Hire Sales Talent Well – First, Fix Your Hiring Process

Hiring sales talent is the top priority and probably the most urgent skill for a CRO / VP of Sales (or a CEO who is hiring their sales executive).  However, most companies’ sales hiring process is not done well – I’ve seen this often.

Here are a couple of tips on fixing your hiring process:

  • Peter Cappelli, professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business and director of its Center for Human Resources, says that “managers at companies large and small are doing hiring all wrong
    • Harvard Business Review Ideacast & HBR article “Your Approach to Hiring is All Wrong
    • Ways to measure whether you’re making good hires: the simplest thing is to check whether the candidates you’ve hired are good ones. And then there is a problem of people saying “we don’t have good measures of what’s good” – but if you don’t try, you’re not going to get anywhere. So, a simple question is just to ask the hiring managers – “would you hire this person again, right?”
    • Look at the performance of the people that you hire and look at the scores on criteria you were using to hire them (see if you can quantify what the interviewers thought about the person).  Then look at the relationship between those scores, your interview scores, your test scores (let’s say if you use something like Predictive Index, their ability, whatever you’re looking at, and how well the hired employees actually did at work.
  • What the SVP of People Operations at Google says:
    • “Many managers, recruiters, and HR think they have a special ability to sniff out talent.They’re wrongWe found a zero relationship.” – Laszlo Bock, former SVP of People Operations at Google
    • two of the highly reliable predictors of people hired at Google are Capability and Learning Ability  (also see this publication from Dr. John Sullivan on what Google data revealed)
    • When executives tell me they have a talent to sniff out talent, I always think about the actual data-driven Google response above and you should question that too because it has been proven (by the most data-driven company in the world) to be totally wrong
  • First, begin with a Sales Org Design – the strategy and the sales org “design” must precede your recruiting because whom you recruit depends on that design
  • Look for ways to make hiring systematic and scientific
  • Have a defined Scorecard – know your criteria with matching interview questions
  • Interview Talent Effectively (and Reduce Subjectivity)
  • How to Interview Senior Executives / Sales Leaders (CRO, EVP/VP of Sales, Chief Sales Officer)
  • Ask the top candidates about doing “Job Tryouts” before hiring
  • When hiring an executive VP of Sales, ask them to create their “100 Day Plan” and see if you agree