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The Sales Hiring Epidemic

As I mentioned in my earlier Springsteen post, I’m in Ireland, “on tour” delivering a series of workshops for sales executives.  One module covers hiring sales people.

Directly responsible for hiring the wrong sales people are the sales leaders who haven’t developed that skill and don’t have a process. At the root of the problem, however, is the inability of many CEOs to hire effective sales leaders. This situation has reached epidemic proportions. The average tenure of a sales leader isn’t much more than six quarters.  That’s three quarters trying to ramp up, two more of waiting until things get better, and one last quarter for executing the exit strategy.

Let me share with you one scenario: Being on board just a year, with performance far below expectations, a VP of sales was fired by the CEO that hired her. A colleague of the CEO recommended “a terrific candidate” with whom he had worked “a while” back. The CEO interviewed the candidate, they hit it off, and they came to terms.

Since the new VP was never put through a comprehensive and objective assessment, the CEO didn’t know that that VP had two major weaknesses. First, the VP didn’t have the skills required to hire the right people for his team.  Second, the VP was weak in team building skills as well.

So two quarters later, the new VP brought in two of his former reps who, although being successful at their former company, were unqualified for this new position.  Upon bringing on the new people, the VP alienated two existing top performers whose territories were “adjusted” in order to give the new reps a head start.  Those two existing reps decided to leave to join other companies. The VP quickly hired two more reps that   were equally as unqualified as the two brought in earler.

Twenty-one months later, the VP was fired.  His excuse for lack of performance was that the company’s products were deficient and couldn’t be sold for one reason or another.

Theoretical, you might say. It doesn’t really happen this way…  Wrong. This is a real situation. The bad news is, based on available statistics, it happens every day.  The good news is that it’s curable.


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