3 Sales Hiring Mistakes Companies Make all the Time

November 17, 2014 Doug O'Grady

3 Hiring Mistakes Companies Make all the TimeThere's little doubt that the vast majority of hiring mistakes stem from the same misunderstanding: that hiring takes no specialized skills that any manager or HR employee can handle the task effectively. But like all major, company-shaping actions, hiring should be the realm of experts-or, at the very least, people who understand the importance of what they're doing and have done their research. There are three hiring mistakes in particular that companies make time and time again, leading the billions of dollars in lost revenue every year as reputations suffer, team productivity and morale sinks, and managers scramble to pick up the pieces. In this article, we'll discuss these three mistakes, what leads to them, and how you can avoid them in your own hiring.

Mistaking Wants for Needs and Needs for Wants

One of the simplest hiring mistakes for a company to make also leads to a truly disproportionate number of problems: mistaking what you want for what you need in an employee, or what you need for what you want. This problem arises before you even begin interviewing the first applicant, and thus it's the first item on our list.

When you sit down to decide what you need from a potential hire, consider your situation now and in the future very carefully. What skills do you need immediately? Any skill that can be taught in a reasonable time frame should be shuffled to your 'wants' category. Similarly, you shouldn't overlook vital talents and traits. Perhaps you need someone with unusual secondary skills, or someone with a unique cross-discipline blend of experience, to make your team operate smoothly in coming days.

When you're honest and accurate in assessing needs and wants, the likelihood of hiring mistakes drops exponentially. That initial self-analysis all too often is rushed or overlooked-treat it with respect!

Forgetting About Your Team

A bad hire can ruin team morale and drop productivity into the gutter, even if the hire looks perfect on paper. Corporate culture matters, expectations matter, and personalities matter-but forgetting that is one of the most common hiring mistakes. Avoiding these sorts of hiring mistakes comes down to a simple consideration of the 'soft data', the things that you know about your team and your company that aren't as easy to peg to a chart. A genius salesperson from a major corporation may not be the best fit for your quirky new start-up, no matter how good he looks on paper. Of course, he may be-the interview is important. Just remember that these things do matter, and they do affect your bottom line. 

Weak Incentives

Sometimes hiring mistakes aren't about the person you're hiring, but how you're hiring them. Poor compensation may not immediately lose you the services of your new ace employee, but in the long term, you'll face brutal turnover if your incentives aren't strong. That's why so much research goes in to understanding what makes people stick around, and what makes them perform-and the answers may surprise you.

Money is not a good incentive-or at least, it scales poorly in returns. Strong incentives are those that feel personal and strongly associated with the work that brings those incentives home: access to quality healthcare, use of company resources like a company car, paid vacation time, flexible hours, etc. When you present a new hire with the right incentives, you can be sure they'll stick around for years to come. Give them the wrong incentives, and you'll be hiring again.and again.and again. Few hiring mistakes waste your time so spectacularly.

Final Thoughts

In the end, most hiring mistakes come down to inattention and inexperience. Hiring takes a lot of preparation and a lot of attention to detail. Trying to rush and relying wholly upon pedigree or any other single metric leads to easily avoided hiring mistakes, so take your time and think it through.

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