The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.

Steve Jobs
CEO Apple Inc.

Why the Hiring Process turns into a Clown Show (Part 1)

When I was promoted to a medical sales manager, the first piece of advice I was given by my area director was, “Hire well and everything else will fall into place. Hire poorly and your life will become absolutely miserable.” 

It sounded simple enough in theory, especially given my sales reps made $230k at plan and the top ones made over $600k. I shouldn’t have a problem getting the best of the best sales talent. 

Or so I thought.

It didn’t take long for me to become the ringleader of a clown show that would have made Barnum & Bailey jealous. 

Given I was with a high growth company, we expanded a lot and I hired more than 30 sales professionals in a four-year period. You would think over the years I would become a master at hiring. In reality, I had just as many clown shows during my first year as I did in my later years. However, when I joined other sales leaders during their interview processes, I quickly realized theirs were more dysfunctional than mine. I was the manager my boss used as the example to follow—which in hindsight is comical. 

It wasn’t until I became a recruiter that I fully understood all the reasons why my hiring process was being hijacked by clowns. If you think about it, my insight is extremely rare—which is why I feel the need to share it. How many medical sales leaders have decided to leave a lucrative career to become a recruiter with a zero salary and no benefits? Fortunately for you, I can explain how the hiring process is stacked against sales leaders without you risking your livelihood to become a recruiter. From my experience, there are four top reasons why the hiring process becomes a clown show.

Public service announcement: Most recruiters are not qualified to recruit for sales professionals. That’s why hiring managers often ask themselves the following two questions after they host interviews: Where did all these clowns come from? Did they all ride in the same clown car to the interview? 

Nothing is a bigger waste of time and cost than when a hiring manager spends 1-2 days interviewing candidates who were all way off the mark. I’m sure we can agree the sales division is the most important department within any company. They are in charge of generating and growing the company’s revenue and, without revenue, you will not be in business very long. In addition, the sales division is unlike any other division and really a mystery to most non-sales employees. 

Unfortunately, most recruiters are just as clueless about salespeople as the rest of the company. Here is an exercise to prove my point. Ask your current or future recruiters one simple question: “Can you provide a two-day sales workshop to the salesforce on what elite sales reps do each day vs the average ones?” If your recruiter cannot teach sales, then exactly how are they evaluating sales talent for your team? I have found 95 percent of internal and external recruiters have never been in sales—and especially not as sales leaders for elite sales teams. 

Let me ask a hypothetical question. If you were a professional golfer, would it bother you that your caddie never played golf competitively? Knowing what I know now, I firmly believe hiring leaders are hiring the best of the worst batch of candidates. That will explain a recent poll I conducted asking 60 sales leaders the percentage of super star reps they have on their salesforce. The overwhelming majority said 30 percent of the salesforce were super stars.

That means 70 percent of any given sales force is average at best. Just so you know, most recruiters are very good at identifying a candidate’s “skill” (what’s on a resume) but horrible at evaluating “talent” (drive and the will to produce repeatable results). Ask any sales leader; some of the worst hires had the best resumes and interviewed extremely well. 

How does this happen? The hiring managers are left alone to flush out a candidate’s talent solely during the hiring process. If your recruiter understood what high functioning super star reps do every day then they could help identify the positives and negatives of the candidate’s true talent—away from the interviews. After a hiring manager receives the recruiter’s insight, then they can design questions to pull out the needed information to learn if a candidate is the right match for the position. 


Be watching for part II of this blog where we’ll discuss more of the top four reasons the hiring process becomes a clown show. To learn more about how Relentless Recruiting can help your company grow by hiring the best of the best salespeople, contact us today.