HR Administration

Six Sales Force Pitfalls

By Heather O'Neill

Oct. 24, 2011

Experts agree that there are some common mistakes companies make when building a sales team. Below, we offer six tips to avoid sales force problems:

1. Don’t overrate past sales experience. Just because a candidate has five years of sales experience on their résumé does not automatically make them a better salesperson than a recent graduate.

2. Never compromise your hiring principles. Dirk Gorman, a founding partner of consulting group Become Capable Today, which helps organizations build sales cultures, says that he often sees companies lower their hiring standards to quickly fill a hole in their sales team. “The desire to fill the open territory becomes the goal, replacing the goal of finding a top talented candidate,” he said. “This compromise has a lasting negative impact on the territory and the performance culture of that sales team.”

3. Don’t limit your recruiting process to times when your company has a vacancy. Constantly being on the lookout for talent— both internally and externally—will reduce the likelihood of making a rash hire to cover territory.

4. Don’t fail to implement an ongoing sales practice routine. Every other skill or discipline—chess, golf, piano, singing—requires rigorous and consistent practice schedules to achieve expertise, Gorman says. Sales is no different.

5. Don’t lack a clear vision of the company’s future. Having employees who are clear on their company’s goals promotes peak performance by giving employees purpose and making then feel part of something larger than themselves.

6. Don’t chase after candidates so much as make them come to you. Gorman calls this the “Birdfeeder Principle.” Like birds fighting for food at the feeder, companies that practice the Birdfeeder Principle have candidates who are competing with one another for the opportunity to be a part of the organization’s vision, rather than the company having to seek out great candidates.


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