We are on a mission

A message from our founder,

Over the past 20 years, I’ve had a blast building and managing sales teams for technology companies ranging in size from 25 – 5000 employees. Whether it was opening a market for new products, growing business within existing customers or building a channel distribution program – the challenge was always a little different. One thing that remained constant, however, was a need for great salespeople to execute on the strategy. And I made a lot of mistakes.

I thought I knew what made a successful salesperson tick – I was one once – yet kept hiring duds. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve worked with a lot of great people. It was those who interviewed well but under-performed on the job that really shook my confidence. What did I miss? Could I not trust my own judgment… our hiring team’s recommendations… our hiring process? And mistakes were expensive. Not only did the company have to pay base salary, commission draws and benefits but for me personally every bad hire caused headwinds on making sales goals.

In larger companies, I was able to use inhouse talent management to find people but in smaller ones, I was on my own. Contingent recruiters were available but not always on the same page. So, I did what many others in my position do – reached back and pulled people I had worked with in the past – people who made their numbers, people I trusted. Mistake. Over time, I learned Lesson #1: sales success does not always translate from one company to another.

"Sales success does not always translate from one company to another."

"Referrals are not always reliable and often contribute to a lack of diversity."

Another hiring strategy I used was asking for employee referrals. Hey, if someone on my team was a top performer and they were willing to recommend a friend, they must be worth considering. How could we go wrong with a trusted friend of a trusted teammate? Well, we did – go wrong that is – many times. And this led to learning Lesson #2: referrals are not always reliable and often contribute to a lack of diversity. We hired too many people who looked like the ones we already had.

When choosing the best candidate we’d often operate from the principle, “past performance is a good predictor of future success.” The problem, which I found out the hard way, was not all success is created equal. Let’s call it Lesson #3: other variables can heavily influence success – management, coaching, leadership, account base, market segment, etc.

"Other variables can heavily influence success - leadership, account base, market, etc."

Over time, my teams and I created a robust hiring process for vetting sales candidates. We looked carefully at the skills needed, created hiring scorecards, standardized the interview sequence, added checks & balances, established role-playing scenarios and much more. All good stuff. The real issue lay with most elemental part of the process – the 1:1 job interview.

Using job interviews as a way to vet candidates for fit and relying on the subjective interpretation of interviewers led to too many mistakes. Avoidable mistakes. We created Hire Smarter to help a new generation of managers avoid making these career-limiting mistakes.

– Swayne Hill, Founder & CEO – Hire Smarter Inc.


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