No organization can depend on genius; the supply is always scarce and unreliable. It is the test of an organization to make ordinary human beings perform better than they seem capable of, to bring out whatever strength there is in its members, and to use it.    – Peter Drucker

Simply put, the single toughest task for any SME is successfully hiring, training and maintaining a high-performance salesperson.  Companies that can do this predictably experience 5 – 10 times the rewards and business equity value of those that can’t.

The cost of a sales mis-hire can be devastating.  The direct costs are estimated to be 4x the annual compensation, and if you factor in the opportunity costs, experts project the cost of a mis-hire to be 13 times compensation.

The Cause Of Sales Hiring Difficulty

The 3 primary obstacles to hiring salespeople and building high performance sales teams are:

1.  Putting people ahead of (or in place of) an effective sales system. In its heyday, IBM built the greatest sales team on the planet.  They did it, not by hiring better salespeople, but by building a better sales system.  The system drove performance.  It made recruiting, hiring, training, motivating and managing salespeople simple, predictable and scalable. Small and mid-sized companies undercut success by failing to pay adequate attention to developing an effective system.  There are many reasons (excuses, really) for this, but the failure to develop an effective system prevents predictable success.

2.  Role Confusion - Lack of clarity or misalignment in the role being hired. Finding a great salesperson is a lot like finding a great football player.  Defining great is highly dependent on the role being filled.  While people often think of players like Walter Payton, Jerry Rice or Tom Brady as "great;" the reality is that they're great because their talent matched their role.  None of them would have been even sufficient if you needed a left tackle. The same is true in sale.  There are four distinct roles that make up the sales process.  Each person who fills that role is rightly considered a salesperson. These roles, like positions, require different mindsets, skills and talents to be successful.  The failure to be clear on what role you're looking to fill, or a misalignment in who or what is filling that role will doom your success.

3.  Overburdening the sales process Too often the marketing function does not adequately create the environment needs to effortlessly make sales.