89% of Recruiting Experts Say Bad Sales Hires Lack These Skills

Selecting salespeople based on hard skills is pretty straightforward. You see that a candidate clearly has the quantifiable abilities and experience required for a sales position, and often, you can easily verify it. Unfortunately, that’s not the case for the other type of skills I’ll discuss in this post — soft skills.

According to an in-depth study by LinkedIn, 89% of recruiting experts say there’s a common denominator between most bad sales hires. They lack the right soft skills.

LinkedIn’s Findings Behind Bad Sales Hires

In 2019, LinkedIn performed an exhaustive report where they surveyed over 5,000 talent professionals across 35 countries and analyzed comprehensive behavioral data. One of the primary areas they focused on was soft skills, as they found that it was the number one trend transforming the workplace that year. In fact, 91% of talent professionals agreed that soft skills were “very important” to the future of recruiting.

Going one step further, LinkedIn wanted to determine the impact soft skills had on the long-term success of candidates that were hired. And it turned out that the impact was quite immense, with their data finding a lack of soft skills to be a key contributor to most bad sales hires.

According to their findings, only 11% of recruiting experts said bad sales hires lack hard skills. However, 45% said they lack soft skills, and 44% said they lack both soft and hard skills. Put that all together, and 89% of recruiters said bad hires lack soft skills.

Why Soft Skills Are So Important in Sales

As you probably know, there is a wide range of factors that determine how successful someone is at selling. Obviously, having hard skills like product knowledge, knowing how to use a CRM, and performing sales demos is important. But this doesn’t always translate into success. To truly predict how good a candidate will be at their job, you need to see the big picture and also take soft skills into account.

Some examples include:

  • Collaboration
  • Communication
  • Rapport-building
  • Empathy
  • Quick problem-solving

Beyond that, it’s important for a salesperson to be nimble and think on their feet. You could even argue that having a certain level of likability is critical to building relationships and winning over customers. But there’s a problem.

Assessing Soft Skills is Notoriously Difficult

As I mentioned earlier, evaluating a candidate’s hard skills is fairly simple. A quick glance at their resume, for example, will usually give you a basic idea of what they bring to the table. You can also have them perform a test on their product knowledge, see how well they understand a particular business platform, perform a mock product demo, and so on.

“Identifying poor soft skills, however, is much harder, which is why they’re often discovered too late, after a hire has been made,” LinkedIn explains. “But as the data shows, bad hires are almost never a matter of hard skills alone.”

The main issue sales recruiters run into is that they lack a formal approach for assessing soft skills. In fact, 68% say they rely on basic behavioral questions or simply reading body language. “She seemed upbeat, so she’s probably a good collaborator; he seemed nervous, so he’s probably not a good leader. The problem is that these perceptions aren’t predictive, and worse, they’re often unconsciously biased.”

Given the inherent limitations of this commonly used approach, it’s unsurprising that so many sales recruiters struggle to accurately gauge soft skills in candidates. This brings me to my final point.

How to Effectively Evaluate Soft Skills

Given how tricky it’s been historically, how exactly should you go about assessing soft skills in sales candidates?

Here’s a four-step system that I feel is highly effective:

  1. Identify essential soft skills – Pinpoint four or five specific skills that are a must for being a successful salesperson at your company and make them a top priority when recruiting.
  2. Leverage assessment tools – Back in the day, recruiters had to primarily rely on behavioral cues and body language, but now there are several objective tools like eSkill and Pymetrics that can provide you with quantifiable data. eSkill, for instance, allows you to measure emotional intelligence to ensure candidates have a high level of communication and collaboration.
  3. Be aware of unconscious bias – LinkedIn found that unconscious bias often gets in the way of recruiters assessing candidates. You may, for example, be inclined to like a particular candidate because they have a similar personality as you. But keeping this in mind can help steer you away from this issue.
  4. Standardize your interview process – “Train interviewers to ask a standard set of questions suited to the skills you’re targeting. This allows you to easily compare evaluations, even if they’re done by different interviewers.”

Beyond that, many companies can benefit from using a sales recruiting platform like HireDNA. It uses science-based assessments that look at core selling competencies like motivation, desire, and coachability to predict success and can quantify what used to be unquantifiable.

Avoiding Bad Sales Hires

Having the right mix of hard and soft skills is critical to making good hires and building a strong team of salespeople. Unfortunately, the latter is more difficult to evaluate and has created a consistent problem for many brands over the years. Further, nearly 9 out of 10 recruiting experts say bad hires lack soft skills.

While assessing soft skills will, admittedly, always be trickier than assessing hard skills, it’s certainly possible. And the four-step process outlined above should help.

To learn more about HireDNA and how it can dramatically improve your sales recruiting, reach out to us today. 92% of candidates recommended through this platform become top performers within a year.

Sales Rep Salary in 2022: How Much Should You Be Paying?

How much should you pay your salespeople? That’s one of the most important and most commonly asked questions among recruiters. And it’s one you need a definitive answer to.

After all, understanding the average sales rep salary provides you with a tangible benchmark so you can identify how much competitors are offering. It also ensures you’re offering enough to pull in elite talent but not so much that it hurts your profitability.

In this post, I’ll provide a clear breakdown of sales rep salary in 2022 based on recent data to help you find the sweet spot along with other actionable advice on attracting top-tier talent.

What the Data Says

For my research, I looked at data from two different sources. One is the salesperson salary in the US based on over 3,700 salaries on Indeed. According to their findings, the average base sales rep salary in 2022 is $58,106.

The other data came from US News and World Report Money which looked at the median salary of salespeople. After crunching the numbers, they found the average sales rep earned $62,070 in 2022. This was nearly $4,000 more than what Indeed suggested, but it’s certainly still in the same ballpark.

So between these two reports, we can surmise that most sales reps will earn around $60,000 in 2022. Also, it’s worth noting that the top 25% highest-earning salespeople earned $89,030, while the lowest-paid 25% earned $43,580. This is something to take into account if, for example, you’re hiring an entry-level sales rep who’s fresh out of college, as they may command less than a bonafide vet who’s been at it for 10+ years.

Higher Earnings Post-Pandemic

Another interesting trend to point out is that many qualified sales candidates currently receive multiple offers and earn significantly more post-pandemic than they did pre-pandemic. In a recent article, I explained there’s a high demand for skilled salespeople, but many (especially recent grads) are reluctant to get into sales. This phenomenon is largely due to the perception among many young professionals that salespeople still sit behind a desk all day, cold calling leads and using high-pressure sales tactics.

You can get the full details here, but the bottom line is that it’s “candidate’s market” in 2022, and that’s unlikely to change any time soon.

As a result, it’s common for top-tier candidates to get multiple offers and earn $10-$20K more than they did before COVID. This means talented individuals could easily earn $70,000 or $80,000 per year rather than the baseline of $60,000. There are numerous factors at play here, but my point is that many sales recruiters are willing to shell out larger than average pay to attract and retain top talent. And that may be something you need to do as well.

Looking Beyond 2022

Besides simply knowing the average sales rep salary in 2022, it’s nice to see the bigger picture and what the overall trajectory is. And the data from the US News and World Report Money provides insights there as well with this graph.

As you can see, there’s been a steady increase in salary since 2010. It went from being around $63,000 in 2010 to $68,000 in 2016. From 2016 to 2017, it decreased slightly but quickly picked up steam from there. Based on this trajectory along with the current shortage of highly qualified sales reps like I discussed earlier, I can only imagine that this trend will continue into the foreseeable future.

It’s clear that industry rockstars are in high demand, and sales recruiters are willing to shell out good money to land them. This brings me to my next point.

Two Quick Strategies for Improving Sales Recruiting

For the final part of this post, I’d like to share two last insights for increasing your odds of landing elite sales talent based on recent data.

One is to act quickly. According to SmallBizGenius, “top talent gets hired by recruiters within 10 days.” And that’s not surprising based on the current landscape. While you don’t want to be hasty and overlook other qualified candidates, it’s clear that you should pull the trigger if find top talent and pay them what they’re worth. Otherwise, there’s a good chance a competitor will swoop in and snatch them up. Considering the average time to hire is 24 days, keeping it under 10 days can give you a significant advantage.

The other strategy is to fully optimize your interview process. A+ salespeople don’t have time for inefficiencies and redundancies during interviewing. So if your interviewing is needlessly complex, convoluted, or you’re asking candidates the same questions over and over, you’re almost guaranteed to lose out to your competitors. That’s why I suggest objectively analyzing your interviewing process and continually looking for ways to improve it.

Sales Rep Salary: Finding the Sweet Spot

Throwing out an arbitrary number based on what you feel sounds “about right” is never a good strategy for deciding how much to pay a potential sales rep, especially someone who could be a major asset to your company. Instead, you need to know what the industry average is and what the current pay trajectory looks like while taking other factors into account like sales rep demand.

To recap, most skilled salespeople will earn around $60,000 in 2022. But when you factor in that many receive multiple offers and take in $10-$20K more than they did prior to COVID, you may need to pay more like $70K+ to bring in the heavy hitters.

Looking to hire better sales talent, faster? Learn how HireDNA uses intelligent matching and science-based assessments to attract and recruit better talent. 92% of candidates recommended through it reach the top of their sales force within their first year, and it eliminates 96% of hiring mistakes.

Clutch Awards HireDNA Among The Best Recruitment Agencies For 2022

HireDNA is a recruiting platform that uses intelligent matching technology to generate qualified interview-ready sales candidates for growing SaaS companies.

We are thrilled to be recognized as one of Clutch’s 2022 leaders in the recruitment industry. For context, Clutch is the leading ratings and reviews platform for IT, marketing, and business service providers. There are many ratings and reviews websites out there, but what sets Clutch apart is that their trained business analysts perform in-depth interviews with clients about the quality of their interaction with each Clutch-registered company.

Every year, Clutch honors the highest-performing B2B companies across different industries. The top service providers exhibit profound knowledge in their field and a solid dedication to high-quality customer service. We work hard to deliver the absolute best products and working experience to our clients, and we’re thrilled that this hard work has paid off.

“We are excited to have been chosen as one of the leading SaaS sales recruiting platforms in the Washington, DC Metro Area by Clutch!” – Anwar Allen, CEO of HireDNA.com

We are truly thankful to our clients for the opportunity to partner with them to help them achieve their sales hiring goals. Their reviews on our Clutch profile confirm that we have what it takes to deliver top-tier SaaS sale candidates. Below is a quote from one of the reviews we received.

“They’re making changes and revisions to their overall platform. I don’t see anything that hasn’t worked well.” – Brad Weatherly, EVP Global Sales, and Service, Sapience Analytics

Build an all-star team. Contact us now to learn more about our services.

9 Ways to Use Data to Improve Sales Recruiting

Data is everywhere in the modern business world, and sales recruiting is no exception. A rapidly growing number of companies are now incorporating data into their recruiting operations to the point that it’s become ubiquitous. But how exactly are these companies using this data?

In this post, I’ll cover nine specific ways, citing statistics from a recent study. By seeing how others are capitalizing on the data boom and how it can improve recruiting, you’ll know how to work it into your own sales recruiting process as well. 

What the Research Says

An interesting study was performed that surveyed recruiting leaders to find out what the top uses of data were in their hiring process. The purpose was to A) identify the specific areas where data was most helpful for improving and B) rank these areas from top to bottom. 

Here’s were the findings. 

Now let’s unpack everything in detail. 

  1. Improve Retention – 56%

Salesperson turnover is an ongoing problem for many companies. On average, the salesperson turnover rate is around 34%, with involuntary turnover accounting for nearly two-thirds of it. However, 10% of companies have much higher turnover rates at over 55%. That’s why the most common reason for using data is to improve retention and keep quality salespeople around longer. 

“With data science, you can better understand trends and patterns in your workforce, making it easier to improve employee retention,” explains data science consulting firm Millan Chicago. “Improving employee retention involves hiring the right people, managing turnover, and detecting and dealing with culture problems.” By having concrete information like this, you can make intelligent decisions and continually refine this vital aspect of operations. 

  1. Identify Skills Gaps – 50%

Not all salespeople are created equally. It’s as simple as that. 

Whenever a company lacks critical skills, their productivity and inevitably profitability will suffer. But data has proven to be highly effective for identifying skills gaps to help determine which specific areas need to be addressed. Modern data tools can, for example, find competency and performance gaps to help guide salesperson hiring and training so you can eliminate major issues and better develop your talent to thrive. 

  1. Make Better Offers – 50%

Due to the recent talent shortages in the sales industry, high-level sales reps have a lot of leverage. A key part of enticing them to join your organization is making solid offers while taking things like salary, career development, schedule flexibility, and remote opportunities into account. By analyzing data, you can pinpoint what top salespeople are most receptive to so you can make better offers, and, in turn, bring on top talent. 

  1. Understand What Candidates Want – 46%

Besides better offers, nearly half of sales recruiters also use data to gain a better understanding of candidate desires and objectives. A recent poll from LinkedIn, for instance, found work-life balance, compensation and benefits, and colleagues and culture were the most important priorities overall. And flexible work arrangements, an inclusive workplace, and work-life balance were some of the fastest-growing priorities since COVID. 

Accessing comprehensive data can provide a bird’s-eye view of what’s most important for your exact candidate demographic so you can make the right adjustments with your recruiting. 

  1. Enhance Workforce Planning – 41%

Further, data can aid in several areas of workplace planning such as forecasting trends, demographic changes, talent management, and strategic direction. That way you’re more likely to have the right people with the right skills at the right time. 

  1. Predict Candidate Success – 39%

One of the biggest things that excites me personally about data is that you can use it to scientifically predict which candidates will be successful. With HireDNA, for instance, you can assess candidates based on development metrics, sales “DNA” competencies, and selling competencies to generate quantifiable data. Here’s an example. 

This makes it much easier to filter through the talent pool and find the true rockstars with the ideal candidate profile based on your unique selling environment. And it’s highly effective, with 92% of suggested candidates hitting the top of the sales force within their first year. 

  1. Evaluate Talent Supply and Demand – 38%

As I mentioned earlier, there’s been a serious talent shortage as of late — something that’s primarily due to the backlash of COVID and many new grads being hesitant to get into the sales profession. So it’s extremely important to have a grip on supply and demand and know how to evaluate talent in the current landscape. Data can help here because you can “zoom-out” on supply and demand trends and make accurate predictions for more effective staffing. 

  1. Compare Talent KPIs with Competitors’ – 31%

Given how competitive sales recruiting is these days, it’s helpful to know how your company stacks up against the competition. With data, you can analyze KPIs like turnover, retention, employee satisfaction, cost-to-hire, and time-to-hire to see where you’re winning and what needs work. With continued refinement over time, this puts you in a position to win the talent war. 

  1. Forecast Hiring Demands – 29%

Finally, data can help gauge future hiring demands so you can identify employment projections. Rather than taking a reactive approach to recruiting where you look for new salespeople after you need them, you can take a proactive approach where you initiate the search in advance. That way you have people in place precisely when you need them, which can eliminate a lot of unnecessary stress. 

Closing Thoughts

I think we can all agree that data is super important and has a wide range of practical applications. But when it comes down to what those exact applications are, many sales recruiters aren’t 100% sure. After reading this post, you should be clear about the most common ways today’s sales recruiters are using data and how you can apply it to your own operations. 

Learn more about how HireDNA can help you find better salespeople, faster. 

Elite Salespeople Get Hired in Just 10 Days: The Importance of Acting Quickly with Sales Recruiting

There is a wide range of variables that contribute to successful sales recruiting. Creating a compelling job ad, efficiently filtering through candidates, and optimizing interviewing, for example, are three areas where recruiters place a lot of focus. But one aspect that doesn’t necessarily get as much attention but needs to is acting quickly when you find a strong candidate. 

For this post, I’ll explain why speed is so important in our current sales recruiting climate and provide you with simple tips for streamlining the process without compromising your decision-making. 

The Average Time to Hire is 24 Days

Although the data varies slightly from study to study, research indicates the time to hire for most sales positions is between 20 – 30 days, with an average of around 24 days.

So, there’s a period of about 3 ½ weeks between the initial screening of candidates and them accepting a position. And that’s fine for average salespeople who aren’t in high demand. Because they typically have limited offers, odds are most will still be available if you wait 24 days. However, this won’t usually cut it for elite salespeople, which brings me to my next point. 

Top Sales Candidates Get Hired in Just 10 Days

Research has found the most talented salespeople get snatched up much quicker in just 10 days. “High-quality candidates with loads of experience, robust soft skills, and a network of contacts have an average job search time of only 10 days,” explains SmallBizGenius. And this makes perfect sense. 

Individuals at the top of their industry will naturally have more options and be in much higher demand than their run-of-the-mill counterparts. Because of this increased demand, they don’t stay in job search mode for long. “HR managers should take this into consideration when they spot a promising candidate, SmallBizGenius adds. “If they want that candidate to join the company, they need to act quickly.”

So, if you wait around, triple-check a candidate’s credentials, agonize over their experience, perform several more interviews, and so on, with an extended period of time elapsing, you can’t expect the candidate to still be available. In fact, there’s a good chance they’ll already receive an offer from a competitor. 

Time is of the Essence with Elite Salespeople

While every situation is different, 10 days is the quantifiable timeframe you usually have to work with before making your final decision and giving a highly-qualified candidate a formal job offer. If you wait too long, there’s no guarantee an A+ candidate will still be around. That’s why it’s so important to A) recognize when you’ve got top talent on your hands and B) make your offer as quickly as possible.

Here are some strategic tips for doing this to ensure you secure the right salesperson who has the potential to be a strong asset to your company. 

Don’t Overthink It

Let’s say you’ve found a home run candidate who you’re almost sure would be an amazing addition to your sales team and has the “it factor.”  But you hold off on pulling the trigger right away simply because you’re wondering if there’s someone out there who’s even better. After several more engagements with other candidates to satisfy your curiosity, you realize that the rock star candidate is in fact your best option. However, once you circle back and give them the offer, they’ve already been taken by someone else. 

Overthinking it like this is one of the most common mistakes sales recruiters make and one that often costs them. I’m not saying you should be overly hasty and not consider anyone else for the position. But if it’s clear that you’ve got a big fish on the line, nine times out of 10, they’re the candidate you should choose. So keep this in mind and be willing to commit when the time is right. 

Don’t Bypass Rockstars Because They Lack Industry or Product Experience

In a previous post, I explained why selling skills are often more important than industry/product experience. And that’s a topic that’s super applicable here. Many recruiters get caught up in only hiring sales candidates with direct industry or product experience, and they end up missing out on great talent as a result. 

While having this type of experience certainly helps, at the end of the day, what’s most important is being able to sell well. If a candidate can do this, they can always learn your industry and product. My point here is that high-level sales skills are transferable. So if you find a candidate that checks all the right boxes but doesn’t have the exact industry/product experience you’re looking for, it’s by no means a dealbreaker. 

Set a Definitive Deadline to Make a Decision

Finally, you can often prevent heavy hitters from slipping through your fingers by having a firm deadline in place when making a hiring decision. While this probably won’t apply to all candidates across the board — especially the mediocre ones — I suggest having a maximum of a 10-day deadline to make a final decision with rock star candidates. However, even less is better, and if you trim it down to 5 days or fewer, that would be ideal. 

Acting Quickly When You Spot Talent 

Let’s recap. The average time to hire is 24 days. But elite salespeople get hired in just 10 days. This two-week gap can create issues if have a top candidate on your hands but fail to act quickly enough. That’s why it’s essential to pull the trigger when you find top talent and wait no longer than 10 days to give them a formal job offer. 

Want to cut your hiring time in half and find pre-screened, qualified, interview-ready candidates? See how HireDNA can help