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10 Keys to Hiring Better Salespeople

Posted by Tony Cole on Fri, Aug 09, 2019

Recruiting new sales talent is complicated and time consuming. Especially, when you're not prepared to fill a vacancy, don't have a pipeline of candidates or have an idea of what "better" means for your business. 

In this article, Tony Cole discusses what to start doing and what to stop doing to upgrade your sales force today!

30184505_xxl hiring recruiting man point

What are the keys to hiring better salespeople? In short you must kill spiders.

In our weekly huddle today, Jack Kasel shared a parable about a woman who asked the pastor at a revival meeting to pray that the cobwebs in her life be removed.  She appeared a second night and a third night with the same request.  The pastor granted her wish the first two nights, and prayed that the cobwebs in her life be removed.  When she appeared the 3rd time at the revival with the same request, the Pastor stopped her mid-request because he realized he had been asking God for the wrong thing. The Pastor instead prayed; "Father, we do not ask You tonight to clean the cobwebs from Ms. Rameriez’ life.  In fact, Lord, keep them there for now.  But tonight, we ask for something much greater.  Tonight, we ask that you kill the spiders in Ms. Ramirez’s life."

What does killing spiders have to do with recruiting and hiring better salespeople?  Well, indirectly nothing, but metaphorically speaking, it has a lot to do with hiring better salespeople. 

Here are 10 things to "Start doing" and 3 things to "Stop doing" when it comes to recruiting and attempting to hire better salespeople:

Start Doing:

  1. Create a profile of a salesperson that describes exactly what success they need to achieve. This will work more effectively than writing a job description and posting that to a job site or telling your influencers that you're looking for a "great salesperson".
  2. As Alex Cole describes here, use a pre-hire assessment in the 2nd step of your hiring process. Before you have a phone or face-to-face interview, assess EVERY candidate with a sales specific assessment that can match sales experience with your specific sales success requirements.
  3. Interview only those that have be recommended for hire as THE salesperson you are looking for.
  4. Create an interview process that mimics the sales process. If they have to be great on the phone, then interview them on the phone before you meet, and give them the same amount of time to impress you that they would get with a prospect.  If they can’t impress the hell out of you in 3 minutes, they won’t impress a prospect either.
  5. In your first face-to-face interview, make them do the "hard stuff". Such as:
    • Make them establish bonding and rapport.
    • Make them ask you questions about what it takes to be successful, what do the top salespeople do in your organization and what do they have to tell you to make sure they make it to the next step.
    • Schedule only 30 minutes but make sure there is an extra 30 minutes for an interview with another person in your office. I promise you that you will know if you should proceed after 30 minutes.
  6. Make sure that when you are ready to make an offer, they are ready to decide. Inform them of that process so they are prepared to tell you "yes" or "no".  Your offer should meet their expectations, you must be able to answer all of their questions and you must know what you are willing to negotiate to get the person you want to hire.  DO NOT let them use your offer to get a better deal.
  7. Onboard them so that they clearly understand what it takes to be successful and what is expected of them in the first 90 days. Make sure they understand that there are no excuses accepted for lack of compliance to training, onboarding and any sales activity required.  Additionally, you must be able to answer all the questions on this list.

Stop Doing:

  1. Using behavioral and/or personality tests to determine if someone can sell. Stop using cold calling assessments to make your hiring decisions. Stop thinking that you have to sell the position early on to get a candidate interested in you.  (If they respond to a call, an email, a job post then they have already taken the first step TOWARDS you).
  2. Stop thinking that the decision is about money. In today’s working world, it’s about providing an opportunity that can be transformational.  Money will only get you people that will leave you for more money.
  3. Only recruiting when you need someone. Being reactive is a horrible position to be in.  You are held hostage and being held hostage will force you to make hiring mistakes.

So what does this have to do with spiders? The Pastor was attempting to make the point that we cannot (when it comes to recruiting), deal with symptoms; we must deal with the root causes.  We can try and train people longer, we can try and work on the compensation model, we can implement and execute PIP programs. In the end, the right end of the problem is dealing with the spider. 

Start with the right person and the cobwebs go away.


Interested in taking a step towards more effective hiring practices? Email for a free job description analysis and to schedule a conversation with our hiring specialist.



Topics: sales skills, Interviewing, pre-hire evaluations, hire better salespeople, upgrade your sales force

Recruiting Better Salespeople: The Make-Up of Hall of Famers

Posted by Tony Cole on Fri, Jan 26, 2018

Assuming for a second that when you think about hiring for a position in your organization, you are thinking about hiring the best- especially in the early rounds of looking for talent. No one reasonably goes about writing a job description like this: 

"ABLE Sales Company is looking for the most unbelievably average salespeople we can find. We already have enough top producers and those that are failing. What we really need are some people to bump up the middle of our bell curve. If interested show up and you’ll get a job.”

No, you are not looking for average- you are looking for people who can get your organization to the next level. You’re looking for the best of the best.

Which leads me to today’s story: I was listening to ESPN radio and tuned into The Golic and Wingo Show. They were sharing stories about the Baseball Hall of Fame inductees that a reporter (I didn’t catch the name but it might have been Tim Kurkjian) had heard from each during his time as a sports reporter. I would like to share 3 of those stories with you today and how they are great analogies for recruiting the best of the best.

2018 hall of famers

(Image from Getty Images)

Vladimir Guerrero: Vladimir is a Dominican born in 1975. He arrived to his first professional baseball try-out on a bicycle. He was wearing baseball shoes that didn’t match and one was so big he had to stuff it with socks so that it wouldn’t slip off. He was on the field for 5 minutes hitting, throwing and catching when the scouts told him he was finished. They signed him to a contract and now he’s in the Baseball Hall of Fame. So, how does this relate to recruiting talent?

  • When you got it, you got it
  • Don’t judge a book by it’s cover

Trevor Hoffman: Trevor was born in Bellflower, California in 1967. When he tried out to play professional baseball, he did so as a shortstop. However, after a few minutes of taking the infield, somebody told him he was terrible as a fielding shortstop and he was a weak hitter. They said if he was going to make it in the pros he might want to try pitching. He did and now he’s a Hall of Famer. What’s the hiring lesson here?

  • When interviewing people don’t be afraid to push a button that might upset them. It’s going to happen in their sales career anyway so you might as well find out how they are going to react. Will they absorb the challenge or get emotional?
  • Every candidate you interview and eventually hire is going to come with some warts. What you want to know is – are they coachable?

Chipper Jones: Chipper was born in 1972 in Deland, Florida and played his entire career with the Atlanta Braves. Chipper was the #1 MLB draft pick in 1990. As the story goes, the Braves were ready to make him an offer but his dad was encouraging Chipper to hold off because he could probably get more money from another team. Chipper told his dad that he wanted to be the #1 draft pick and that the money didn’t matter. He knew that he was going to be successful and that he would earn his ‘big’ money based on his performance rather than what another club thought he was worth today. Again, why is this important when hiring salespeople?

  • You have to be patient. Just because it’s hard to find the right person, doesn’t mean you should hire one that is close. Close enough isn’t good enough (you already have some of those on your team and you don't need more).
  • Hire people that are willing to bet on themselves. Often recruiting managers, HR, and recruiters shy away from those that don’t exactly fit the pedigree. When interviewing and working the compensation into the hiring contract, be bold enough to challenge the candidate to put some money at risk. If they are as good as they think they are they will make up for it in spades in the long run.

There is nothing easy about hiring. If you listen to the stories of these recent inductees you will find that there was nothing easy about getting into the Hall of Fame. Congratulations to the 2018 MLB Baseball Hall of Fame Inductees: 

Chipper Jones

Vladimir Guerrero

Jim Thome

Trevor Hoffman

Jack Morris

Alan Trammell

Need more help hiring the best of the best? Download our free Recruiting Success Formula document and Interview Questions guide to improve your recruiting process, today!

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Also, click here to complete the Objective Management Group Hiring Mistake Calculator

Topics: hire better salespeople, building effective sales teams, recruiting sales talent

How to Build a Better Sales Team with Better Salespeople – 3 Critical Steps

Posted by Tony Cole on Mon, Jul 24, 2017


When talking to presidents, executive sales officers and sales managers, I consistently have heard these 5 comments:

  1. I inherited the team I have.
  2. The people that I’ve hired are doing well.
  3. About 10% of the people consistently meet and or exceed goals.
  4. 10% of the sales team is failing miserably.
  5. It’s unreasonable to expect that you can always hire ‘A’ players.

Though we started as, and remain today, a sales training and development company, how to recruit better salespeople was something we needed to add to our business solution toolbox.  As a result, we sought, found and partnered with a firm that is now the provider of the #1 pre-hire sales assessment in the world. What does this have to do with 3 things you must do to build a better sales team?


In order to build an effective sales team to achieve systematic and consistent internal organic sales growth, every organization must do 3 things: 

  1. Make sure that your screening process has predictive validity.
  2. Mitigate future hiring mistakes by implementing a hiring practice designed to disqualify candidates
  3. Implement training and development to help your current sales manager(s) and sales team(s) adapt to overcome gaps in required sales behaviors and skills

REGISTER HERE for "Ruff" Realities Recruiting Webinar

To make these points, let me share with you articles from the Harvard Business Review:

Page 23 of the July/August 2017 HBR Magazine - How to Predict Turnover on Your Sales Team The author is talking to Jay Minks, who is the executive vice president of sales at Insperity – a business performance firm. 

  • HBR – “If you could design a dashboard to manage turnover, what would be on it?”
  • Jay: “Actually, I’d be more interested in data predicting which of the salespeople I hire will succeed; that would be the Holy Grail. Our organization could save millions if we could find a way to use data to drive this number much lower.”

Page 103 of the same magazine.  The article, Managing Climate Change:  Lessons From The U.S. Navy, is about the two approaches being used by the Navy to deal with the impact of global warming over the next 10, 20, 30, 40 and 50 years.  These approaches are Mitigation and Adaptation.

  • Mitigation – refers to actions that reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions that are causing climate change
  • Adaptation – refers to actions that make the organization more resilient in the face of the ongoing and forecasted changes in the earth’s systems

My tendency is to automatically start thinking about how information like this relates to sales and sales management.  In this case, I relate mitigation, adaptation and predictability to the business challenge of How to Recruit Better Salespeople.

Let’s look at just one: Predictability

Here is a simple screen shot from a pre-hire assessment that has been tested to have a 92% predictive validity:


This candidate is not recommended for hire.  Though the assessment indicated that the candidate has a great commitment to success in selling and a great outlook about selling AND takes responsibility for results, this candidate is missing some critical skills in other vital areas. The problem here is that these weaknesses could be hidden by the candidate’s strengths in the areas of hunting and presentation approach.

Mitigation and adaptation steps will vary widely from company to company and industry to industry.  The steps to guide those processes would look like the following:

  • Identify and confirm the severity of the gap between where you are and where you need to be
  • Identify the root cause(s): people, systems, process, or strategy
  • Determine the immediate risk(s) to revenue and profit
  • Generate 1-5 potential people solutions
  • Find a partner/take action

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Download a free copy of the Sales Effectiveness and Improvement Analysis (SEIA).  You will get...

  • Detailed information about potential breakdowns in systems and process that either help or hurt sales growth
  • Granular information about the strengths, skills, and weaknesses that hurt or help a sales leader be effective at five critical functions: Performance Management, Coaching, Recruiting, Motivating and Growing a Sales Team.
  • Critical information about the structure of a sales team and the potential for growth with the current team
  • Finally, a clear idea of the types of hires you need to make to have a growth-oriented sales team.


Topics: hire better salespeople, build a better sales team, predicting sales team turnover

Become a Pipeline Hound!

Posted by Alex Cole on Fri, Jul 07, 2017

How important is it for your salespeople to have a pipeline of prospects? Probably pretty important. How crucial is it that your salespeople continue to feed into that pipeline? Just as crucial! We all know that, in order for your organization to succeed, it is vital that your salespeople build, grow and maintain a solid pipeline. But what happens if one of those great salespeople leaves? Do you have someone on the sidelines ready to take that spot?

The first thing that we teach our Hire Better Salespeople (HBSP) clients is that it is just as imperative for you to have a pipeline of potential candidates as it is for your salespeople to have a pipeline of prospects. Most companies find themselves reacting to the loss of an employee as opposed to being proactive about it. When companies don’t proactively recruit new sales talent, they typically find themselves with a vacancy for a much longer time. For example, last year, HBSP partnered with a financial institution out of Cheyenne, WY and it took over 8 months to find a qualified individual partly due to the absence of a sales candidate pipeline. When this happens, you now have the daunting task, and added pressure, of finding a replacement... and quickly! But what happens when we rush things? Usually a mistake is made, right? Your hiring decisions and processes are not something to be rushed or else large, costly mistakes will occur. It doesn’t matter if things are going great or going terribly- a candidate pipeline has to exist.

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So, what is the best way to build a sales candidate pipeline? Be a candidate watch dog! Start with the people you know. Typically, great people know other great people and are happy to refer them. Ask your family, friends and employees if they know of anyone who may be a fit for your organization. Networking events are also a great place to receive names and meet potential sales candidates. Once you gain a few leads, reach out and see if they would be interested in getting together. In no way are these conversations interviews- they shouldn’t be! Interviews are for applicants who are actively looking when you have an active opening. At this point, you are just trying to gauge interest and add potential sales candidates to your network.

Creating a candidate pipeline won’t solve all your recruiting troubles, but it’s the first place to start. If you are interested in learning more about how to Hire Better Salespeople, sign up for our free webinar—Ruff Realities About Recruiting. During this webinar, you will learn how to hire your next “top dog” using our proven process for searching, evaluating skills using a sales assessment, interviewing, hiring and onboarding new hires.

Webinar Details:

Thursday, July 27th at 12 PM EST

REGISTER HERE for "Ruff" Realities Recruiting Webinar

Topics: increase pipeline, sales candidates, hire better salespeople, recruiting sales talent

Guests, Fish and Job Candidates

Posted by Chuck Smith on Mon, Jun 26, 2017

As the owner of Hire Better Salespeople, one thing I hear consistently from my clients in regards to hiring is “I’m tired of looking through the same set of resumes over and over again.” If you have had the same thought, trust me, you’re not alone. Resume sites are flooded daily with recycled candidates. So, how do you go about finding the new, fresh candidates out in the market place? This week, our guest blogger and one of HBSP partner’s, Chuck Smith, President of NewHire, explains why fresh is best and how to eliminate the rest.-- Tony Cole

I thought it was my mother-in-law, but it turns out to be Benjamin Franklin who said, “Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days.” If you’ve had house guests who’ve overstayed their welcome, I know you will relate. But did you know that the same rule, more or less, applies to candidates for work?

How so?

When we are recruiting to fill an open position, our primary goal is always to find the right person for the job. In fact, we often mean “the right person for the job, RIGHT NOW!” It’s not so helpful if that right person were to be available six months before or six months after.

This is why so many people get frustrated searching for resumes online using LinkedIn, Indeed and Careerbuilder. These sites and others have built businesses based on the idea of aggregating candidate resumes. The sites claim that the ability to search 20, 30 or 100 million resumes is a benefit. I call it a bug. We shouldn’t care about everyone who ever placed a matching keyword on their resume.

We should only care about the actual people interested in our actual job right now. This is what makes the NewHire™ system of recruiting so powerful. Rather than asking you to spend your valuable, limited time going from site to site (at great expense for access) searching for matching candidates among millions and millions of non-matching candidates, NewHire™ brings the candidates to you. Small databases of candidates who have expressed interest in your job. These candidates are prescreened, pre-qualified candidates who have already answered many of the key questions you have for them.

NewHire was invented to help employers recruit and screen candidates for very specific, time-bound open positions. Stop searching resumes and start getting matching candidates with Hire Better Salespeople and NewHire.

Sourcing great, qualified candidates is only a piece of the very complicated puzzle. At Hire Better Salespeople, we work with our clients to: learn the intimate details of the position, build a compelling job attraction post, call on active as well as passive job seekers, assess applicants based on the specific job criteria, disqualify and vet candidates, provide initial interviewing support and administer onboarding and coaching for your new hire. Visit our site TODAY to learn more! 

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Topics: New hires, hire better salespeople, aquire sales candidates

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    About our Blog

    Founder and CLO Tony Cole has been working with financial firms for more than 25 years to help them close their sales opportunity gap.  He is a master at using science based data and finely honed coaching strategies to help build effective sales teams.  Don’t miss his weekly sales management blog insights.


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