92% of Recommended and Hired Candidates Succeed. Here’s Why.

How many times have you chosen a salesperson who had an amazing personality and checked all of the right boxes, only to later find that their performance was less than stellar?

This is a common experience among many CEOs and sales leaders, and according to Shep Hyken of Forbes, 57% of sales reps fail to hit their quotas. But fortunately, there’s a way to get it right nearly all of the time. 

In this post, we’ll discuss a proven system you can use to take the guesswork out of hiring salespeople to ensure that you consistently select elite performers. 

Accurately Predicting Sales Success

Objective Management Group (OMG) has conducted rigorous assessments over the years to compile a massive amount of data on the sales force selection process. Here are some specific numbers that went into their research.

As you can see, they’ve analyzed over 30,000 companies, more than 86,000 hires, and over two million salespeople to determine what contributes to success. The volume of data is staggering and has generated some fascinating insights into what sales recruiters, sales leaders, and CEOs should look for when assessing and hiring sales candidates. 

For example, OMG found that having the will to sell, where a person possesses the right level of desire and commitment, is a key factor in success. They found that being trainable and coachable is critical. They also found that having 21 core selling competencies, like being a “Hunter, Consultative Seller, Qualifier, Closer, and so on are vital — something they can quantitatively measure. 

In short, OMG found that there’s a science behind hiring quality salespeople — a formula sales recruiters, sales leaders, and CEOs can use over and over to find top talent and retain them for the long haul. 

Check out more data from OMG, see how your sales team compares to the competition and the sales DNA of top performers in your industry here.

92% of Recommended and Hired Candidates Succeed

Through their findings, OMG has developed what they call The Original Sales-Specific Assessment, which measures sales capabilities rather than just behavioral and personality traits. This assessment takes a data-driven approach to finding the best of the best candidates and is so effective that it’s been rated the #1 sales assessment for 9 consecutive years by Top Sales World.

And here’s where it really gets interesting. OMG found that a whopping 92% of candidates that are recommended and hired through The Sales Assessment succeed and reach the top half of the sales force within just 12 months.  

This shows how important it is to make hiring decisions based on data, rather than merely a hunch. And this is something that more and more organizations are actively embracing, with a PwC global data and analytics survey finding that 61% of companies want to rely more heavily on data analysis and less on intuition when making hiring decisions. 

On the other hand, OMG also found that “75% of candidates who aren’t recommended but hired anyway fail within six months.” 

This just reaffirms the importance of assessing candidates based on concrete data and how utilizing a sales-specific assessment can be a real game changer. 

Why it Works

Now let’s take a closer look into the details as to why using the assessment works. 

First, it’s customized to your unique selling environment. “Your customized Role Specification allows you to specify the unique requirements of your position. Candidates are then assessed against your criteria to create a recommendation custom-tailored to your needs.”

In other words, it doesn’t take a one-size-fits-all approach. Rather, the assessment looks at your exact business and identifies which characteristics the ideal sales rep, manager, or leader should possess. 

Next, it uses a Candidate Analyzer to quantitatively score candidates based on their abilities via an easy-to-use portal. This allows you to seamlessly filter through candidates and pinpoint the ones you’re most interested in for later follow-up. 

And finally, OMG has a recruiting system called STAR (Sales Talent Acquisition Routine) that allows you to deploy a more structured approach to recruiting sales talent over a four-week period and looks like this:

During the first week, there’s the initial setup, where OMG configures their assessment for the specific role you’re hiring for, creates the optimal applicant tracking questions, and writes an ad that articulates the traits, skills, and experiences a candidate should possess.  

The second week is when sourcing takes place, where the ad is placed on relevant job sites and candidates are searched for on resume databases. Then, OMG provides tactics to help you filter through the results to confirm that applicants meet base requirements along with training on how to narrow the list down through phone screening calls

The third week is when the top candidates are interviewed in-person or through video conferencing. This is where you go more in-depth and really get to know each candidate and see what they bring to the table. The fourth week is when the final interview takes place to identify the true rockstars and when a candidate is officially chosen for the position. 

As you can see, the process is very streamlined and can be used again and again to ensure you consistently make the right hires. Also, note that The sales assessment is designed specifically for sales, sales management, and sales leadership roles, making it extremely accurate. 

Hiring Candidates Based on Science

74% of sales reps are ineffective and fail to hit the mark, while only 6% are considered to be elite performers. At first glance, this may seem like the odds are stacked against sales recruiters, and it’s true that finding quality people can be tricky.

But comprehensive research has found that selecting salespeople based on hard data that’s generated through tools like The OMG Sales Candidate Assessment enables you to make decisions with relative certainty. It’s just a matter of putting the data to use and objectively selecting candidates based off of it. 

Interest in a free trial of the OMG Sales Candidate Assessment? You can register for a free test drive here.

For more helpful information on improving your sales hiring process, there are two eBooks to check out below. 

The Top 5 Reasons You Are Failing at Recruiting Consistently Great Sales Teams

Best Practice to Recruiting the Hardest Role in the Company

Everything You Need to Know About Phone Screening Sales Candidates

Historically, most interviews for sales rep positions have been done in person. However, in recent years, there’s been a shift to holding initial conversations over the phone to make a baseline assessment of a candidate’s qualifications. 

And with COVID-19 greatly restricting in person interactions, phone screening is something that many companies are doing by necessity. 

Here’s everything you need to know about phone screening so that you can streamline the process and find the best of the best sales reps. 

The Purpose of Phone Screening

In an eBook called Best Practice to Recruiting the Hardest Role in the Company, sales development firm SG Partners explains why phone screening for this position is such a smart idea. 

“Because your salespeople need to engage over the phone — doesn’t it make sense to check that they can and will be able to engage effectively with your existing and potential clients? They need to convince you that they are worth progressing to the face to face interview stage.”

This is a simple way to assess how well sales candidates perform and which ones you should advance. It also provides you with instant insights into their personality, traits, sales style, and so on. As a result, you not only learn about a candidate’s hard skills but also their soft skills and how well they fit in with your company from a cultural standpoint.

Now that we better understand the context, here’s how to seamlessly implement phone screening. 

Keep it Brief 

Given that this is a preliminary stage in the hiring process, it’s not usually the time to ask in-depth, hard hitting questions that require a long winded response, says global HR consulting firm Robert Half International. Rather, the goal is to narrow down your list of candidates and pinpoint the ones you want to give serious consideration. 

Therefore, you should keep the phone screening brief — ideally somewhere between 15 to 30 minutes — and focus only on the essentials. Then, once you’ve finished this round, you can follow up with candidates who’ve advanced and dive into deeper questions during the official interview.

Create a Script

In order to accurately and objectively gauge sales candidates, you need to have a standardized phone screening process where every interaction is nearly identical. You need to have a script. 

Why? There are two main reasons. 

First, this creates a sense of homogeneity where every candidate can be viewed through the same lens, making your assessment less likely to be skewed by variables. It’s like creating the same conditions during a science experiment to ensure the results are valid.

Second, it helps you move through phone screenings faster and more efficiently. By sticking to a script and asking the same questions (something we’ll discuss in more detail in just a bit), you can navigate through the process more fluidly and not waste time. 

And this is important considering that on average, conducting phone interviews can increase the length of the recruitment process by 6.8 to 8.2 days

So, what exactly should a script look like?

Here’s a basic formula you can use:

  • Offer a quick introduction of who you are, what your company is about, and what you’re looking for in a sales rep
  • Ask a series of straightforward questions
  • Take notes
  • Ask follow up questions
  • Ask the candidate if they have any questions for you
  • Close letting them know when and how you’ll reach out to them next

Ask The Right Questions

The exact questions used during phone screenings will obviously vary from company to company. That said, applicant tracking system, Betterteam, has pinpointed seven key questions that work great for making an initial assessment of a sales candidate. 

Here they are.

Besides that, you may want to ask questions to see how much they know about your company and what makes them a good fit. Some examples include:

  • What products or services do we specialize in?
  • What was it that attracted you to our company?
  • Why makes you a better fit over other candidates?

Again, the goal here isn’t to know a candidate inside and out. It’s to get a basic feel for who they are, what their skill level is like, and how good of a fit they would be for a sales position. These questions should serve as a good starting point, and you can tweak them as needed. 

When it’s all said and done, shoot for somewhere between five to 10 phone screening questions, as that tends to be the sweet spot. 

Treat Each Candidate Equally

It’s also vital that you eliminate any bias and give each candidate the exact same opportunity. “Approach every conversation with a blank slate, and treat each candidate fairly and equally,” writes Robert Half. “Remain fully engaged during every call.”

This should prevent your judgment from being clouded, enabling you to make an accurate assessment of multiple candidates, which brings us to our final point. 

Use Objective Scoring

The final piece of the puzzle is to objectively quantify your results so that you use concrete data when deciding which candidates to advance. Typically, the easiest way to do this is to use a numerical rating system to rate how satisfied you are with a candidate’s response to each question. 

For example:

  • 5 is excellent
  • 4 is good
  • 3 is average
  • 2 is below average
  • 1 is poor 

Then, add these numbers up to score each candidate, and use this to decide who moves onto the next round of hiring. You should also incorporate a sales-specific assessment that uses data and science to objectively evaluate the candidate’s selling skills and capabilities to accurately predict the likelihood of success. 

Improving Overall Hiring With Phone Screening

Phone screening sales candidates is a proven way to filter through a large applicant pool and find the true rockstars. It’s just a matter of developing an efficient system that allows you to move through the process swiftly and seamlessly. 

Need help hiring sales talent. HireDNA sales recruiting platform makes hiring sales reps easy by delivering pre-screened and qualified sales professionals. Request a demo

These Are the Top 5 Traits to Look for in a Sales Rep Based on a Mountain of Research

In another blog post, we talked about the importance of making hiring decisions based on data rather than a hunch. At the end of the day, sticking to a proven formula leads to better hires who are more productive and perform at a consistently high-level. 

It’s all about using science.

In this post, we’re going to expand on this topic and break down the top five traits to look for in a sales rep based on in-depth studies and a boatload of data. Let’s dive right in. 

The Sales Acceleration Formula By Mark Roberge

There are countless bodies of research that have analyzed what makes for a successful sales rep. For instance, sales strategist Steve W. Martin of The Harvard Business Review interviewed 1,000 top tier salespeople and performed personality tests on them in 2011. 

And the University of Florida conducted in-depth research in the early 2000’s to distinguish the difference between “tellers versus sellers.”

Research like this offers a ton of value, but one of the preeminent sources for identifying key traits is the work that former Chief Revenue Officer of HubSpot, Mark Roberge, did in 2015. He exhaustively analyzed a massive amount of data to come up with what he calls The Sales Acceleration Formula, which he wrote a book about. 

One of the key parts of his system is tapping into critical metrics to not only find high level sales reps, but create a more efficient process for doing so. After parsing through the data, Roberge came up with five specific traits he found most important. 

Here they are ranked by their importance. Drumroll…

1. Coachability

Above all else, Roberge found that being coachable and adaptable is the number one characteristic to look for in a sales rep. He specifically mentions how he’s had situations in the past where a rep who had incredible success in a prior position floundered in a new environment simply because they had a rigid attitude and weren’t open to input. For example, they had the mindset of “I’ve been selling for 10 years, and I’ll figure it out.”

But in today’s ultra dynamic business world, having a willingness to accept direction and feedback is of the utmost importance. In fact, some of the top reps Roberge has encountered who have “crushed it” are the ones who have been the most coachable. 

2. Curiosity

Next, he found that having a natural inquisitiveness is huge. Being curious about how a platform works, how it fits into a company’s sales model, how to solve a prospect’s pain points, and so on plays a key role in gaining a deep comprehension, and in turn, being an adept salesperson.

And this is a sentiment that’s shared by many other sales experts, like Matt Sunshine of The Center for Sales Strategy. “Great sellers are naturally curious and they can’t help but ask questions to learn more about how they can help.” In turn, they take that information and tailor their approach to meet the unique needs of each lead head on. 

3. Intelligence

Okay, this one is pretty obvious. A rep should always have a strong intellect and a high-level understanding of your industry, customer psychology, how your platform fits into a lead’s business model, and how to nurture a lead. It’s also helpful when they possess a solid emotional intelligence (EQ), where they know how to navigate issues like addressing prospect concerns, how to collaborate with other team members, and generally how to operate with tact. 

It should be noted that Roberge places intelligence far above what many would consider conventional sales skills like convincing, which involves an aggressive approach. Instead, he says that the top performing reps in this day and age tend to act more as consultants or trusted advisors to leads. They use their business savvy to help leads make critical decisions and explain how a platform can improve operations, rather than trying to “shove a product down their throats.”

4. Work Ethic

This trait should also come as no surprise. “Someone with a great work ethic will accelerate his or her learning curve and operate in a state of constant improvement,” explains The Muse in Forbes. “He or she will always look for ways to be better.”

Naturally being driven and willing to put in the time inevitably positions a rep for success and is integral to their evolution.

5. Prior Success

While prior success doesn’t 100% guarantee success within your company, it definitely factors in heavily. As long as a rep possesses the other four traits listed above, their odds of thriving are excellent. 

When it comes to assessing prior success, David Kurlan of Objective Management Group, explains that there are two specific criteria to look for:

  1. Sales reps reached 100% of their quota or better in a previous position
  2. They were in the top 26% of all salespeople

So, these should definitely be on your radar when assessing candidates. Kurlan also points out that using a science-based sales recruiting platform like HireDNA allows companies to identify reps in the top 6% of the total sales population. 

Always Look to the Data

The Sales Acceleration Formula by Mark Roberge reaffirms what sales recruiting experts have been saying for years. Making smart hiring decisions hinges largely on looking at objective data to make assessments. 

After performing a mountain of research, Roberge was able to pinpoint the top five traits that electrifying reps possess — coachability, curiosity, intelligence, work ethic, and prior success. 

Using a science-based sales recruiting platform allows you to effectively zero in on these areas and provides you with quantifiable data to help you make the right decision. And the best part is that this is something that can easily be rinsed and repeated. 

Want to see how you can streamline your hiring process and find top tier talent? Book a HireDNA demo today. 

Why Hiring Decisions Should Be Based on Data, Not a Hunch

Using your intuition and “following your gut” can be beneficial at times. And as humans, it’s something we’re naturally wired to do. 

In fact, research psychologist and author Gary Klein found that as many as “90% of the critical decisions we make are based on our intuition.”

But when it comes to critical business decisions like hiring, it’s better to take a data-driven approach rather than merely relying on “a hunch.” Here’s why. 

What the Harvard Business School Has to Say About It

In an article entitled The Advantages of Data-Driven Decision-Making, The Harvard Business Review (HBR) talks about how intuition has become deeply ingrained in the business world and the deep value that’s been placed on it over the years. 

“Society has imbued the concept of ‘intuition’ — of simply knowing when something is right or wrong — with a tremendous amount of prestige, importance, and influence,” the HBR explains. “The concept of intuition has become so romanticized in modern life that it’s now a part of how many people talk about and understand the ‘geniuses’ of our generation.”

They make specific mention to intellectual and business juggernauts, like Albert Einstein and Steve Jobs, who relied heavily on their instinct for guidance. And while intuition has certainly factored into the success of notable figures like these, as well as other massive success stories like Henry Ford and Jeff Bezos, it doesn’t mean that it should be the default for making important hiring decisions.

The HBR says that intuition can definitely be a helpful tool, but there’s a strong body of research that says data-driven organizations have an inherent advantage over their competitors that rely less on data. In fact, they point to a study by PwC that found the former are three times more likely to experience “significant improvements” in decision-making than the latter. 

Let’s Quantify

Given that this article is all about the numbers, it’s only fair that we quantify exactly how much hiring decisions improve by taking a data-driven approach. According to separate research from the HBR, an algorithm that based candidate evaluations off of a simple equation outperformed human decisions by at least 25%

Further, using the algorithm allowed researchers to increase the accuracy of choosing productive employees by over 50%. That’s impressive! 

So, what specifically makes data superior to human intuition when it comes to hiring?

Brian Connelly, Associate Professor of Organizational Behavior and Human Resources Management at the University of Toronto summarizes it well by saying, “the problem is that people are easily distracted by things that might be only marginally relevant, and they use information inconsistently.”

It’s also easy to fall into the trap of being overly charmed by a particular candidate’s personality, where you end up overlooking major flaws. You may also pass up a top tier talent simply because they don’t have a striking personality or you don’t feel an instant connection with them. 

This isn’t to say that you should mindlessly rely on machines to make every single hiring decision, and human input should definitely factor into the equation. But at the end of the day, it’s clear that using data is highly important. 

And given the high-powered tools that are readily available, it would be foolish to not take advantage of them. 

Finding Perfect Candidates

In a whitepaper called The Modern Science of Salesperson Selection, David Kurlan of Objective Management Group mentions how extensive research was done to identify “perfect candidates” — those that are virtually no fail and positioned for massive success.

Kurlan boiled it down to two specific criteria:

  • Candidates are top performers who reached 100% of their quota or better
  • They were ranked in the top 26% of all salespeople

Then, by using strong filters to assess core sales competencies, Kurlan was able to pinpoint candidates that were in the top 6% of the total sales population. This shows firsthand how making an objective assessment using the right data can help a company find the best of the best

It eliminates the guesswork and allows you to assemble a sales team based on legitimate skill and talent rather than merely a gut feeling. 

What Specific Data-Driven Assessment Tools Should You Use?

There are multiple sales assessment tools on the market, but there’s one in particular we recommend — the OMG Sales Candidate Assessment. It’s designed specifically for sales rather than simply “being tailored for sales” and evaluates 21 core sales competencies (not just personality traits) that have been objectively proven to predict success. 

Here’s what it looks like. 

And here’s a glimpse of the data that went into identifying the 21 core sales competencies that it analyzes. 

Using this tool provides you with a bird’s eye view of what each candidate brings to the table, providing you with quantitative data and allowing you to effectively predict their likelihood of success. 

Studies have found that a staggering 92% of recommended hires through the OMG Sales Candidate Assessment reach the top half of their sales force within a year and that it eliminates 96% of hiring mistakes using proven science. 

It’s even been rated as the number one predictive sales talent assessment for nine years straight by Top Sales World

Let’s Recap

Although there’s no denying that instinct can definitely play a role in business success, multiple studies have proven that it has its limitations, especially when it comes to hiring. Companies that choose candidates based on concrete data have a distinct advantage over their competitors that rely solely on emotion. 

It’s just a matter of using the right tool to analyze core sales competencies, and narrowing your candidate pool down to the top performers. 

Want to learn more about the process? Register for a free sales candidate assessment today. 

Are you hiring? Get pre-screened, assessed, and vetted sales candidates tailored to your hiring criteria and unique selling environment. Request a Demo of the HireDNA sales recruiting platform.