3 Risks You Take By Hiring Sales Reps Using Your Gut Feeling

When it comes to hiring a sales rep, it can feel like you talk to an endless pipeline of sales candidates before you find what you’re looking for. And suddenly, one sales rep walks in the door and impresses you right away. Hired. Done.


But there are risks to hiring a sales rep based on your initial gut feeling: like a 50% failure rate in hiring. Suddenly that sales rep who blew you away during the interview doesn’t look so amazing months later when they fail to make quota.Hiring has a 50% failure rate

Here are 3 risks you take by hiring sales reps using your gut feeling and what you should be doing instead.

#1 You grade sales reps on a curve

The average sales rep can walk into your office a hundred times without making a significant impression on you. But after a few interviews with some underqualified sales candidates, the next average candidate that walks through the door looks amazing to you.

That’s because you’re falling prey to the contrast effect and grading them on a curve. That sales rep doesn’t really impress you. They display no significant sales personality traits. They’re just better than the less-than-average sales reps who failed to impress you the six previous interviews before.

Don’t get pulled into grading on a curve. Your sales candidates should be meeting the objective standards you’ve already set for sales hires before the screening process. As recommended by Evan Bartlett of Building The Sales Machine:

 Use data to build a sales success profile based on current top performers and rate each sales candidate against that profile.

#2 You equate a great interview with a great sales rep

There are always going to be sales reps who are great at interviewing. They’re able to win you over so well that you’re tempted to hire them on the spot. That’s great because the ability to sell oneself is essential for sales reps. So this candidate is perfect for the job, right?Increase in sales revenue by using an assessment for sales hires

The ability to sell yourself is only one part of what makes someone a successful sale rep. There are a lot of people who can interview extremely well. But this doesn’t take into account the adaptability, drive, and critical thinking abilities correlated with sales success. These personality insights can’t easily be assessed in an interview or by looking at a resume.

In fact, research by Cortina and colleagues found that interviews add little value for predicting on-the-job performance over and above getting candidates to complete assessments of their intelligence and personality traits.

#3 You make emotional decisions when hiring sales reps

Hiring can be emotional. It’s whether or not you feel like you can work with this sales rep or whether or not you feel like they will fit into the company culture. That’s a lothiring salespeople using a personality assessment of feeling involved and most of the time, emotional decisions don’t end well.

But why shouldn’t we trust our gut when it comes to hiring sales reps? Mostly because we’re led astray by a number of biases at any given time that lead to worse decision-making outcomes. These biases are why employees hired based on assessments and algorithms end up better than employees hired based on the judgment of human recruiters.

People can be blinded by bias when it comes to hiring. Some hiring managers gravitate to people like themselves; others are just overconfident in their abilities to predict success.

Instead of relying on emotion when making sales hires, rely on data to gain insights into sales candidates’ personality and selling skills.

The takeaway

Relying on our gut feeling has traditionally been the basis of hiring and recruitment, but relying on our gut feeling is also why hiring has a 50% failure rate.

Why using your gut feeling leads to bad sales hires

Luckily, sales recruitment technology like Ideal Candidate has embraced data analytics to both decrease time-to-hire by 32% and increase quality-of-hire by 50%. And this means that instead of taking a risk by using your gut, you can use technology to help you find the best sales hires for you.

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Ji-A Min

Ji-A Min

Head Data Scientist at Ideal
Ji-A Min is the Head Data Scientist at Ideal. With a Master’s in Industrial-Organizational Psychology, Ji-A promotes best practices in data-based recruitment. She writes about research and trends in talent acquisition, recruitment tech, and people analytics.
Ji-A Min