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How to Avoid Becoming a Mis-Hire

There are scores of semi-content sales professionals out there that know that there’s a better position out there for them. Each time they think about interviewing, one simple question stops them from leaving their current position. What if the next position doesn’t work out? It’s a very real risk but one that can be mitigated through solid questions and a thorough understanding of why you’re less than thrilled with your current position in the first place. Given that the Sales Talent business model is based on helping our clients reduce their sales force turnover (so that they’ll stick with us forever); we want our candidates joining our clients for the right reasons. The following are five ways to help you evaluate the risk and make the right decision.

 Don’t take a job you’re not (and won’t soon be) ready for. Unless resourcefulness is one of your strengths you might want to reconsider taking a position that is too big of a step up challenge-wise.  This is especially true if the company does not have a well developed training program.  There’s going to be a skill set gap and it’s up to you to make sure that you can make the jump.  Have they successfully hired reps with backgrounds similar to yours? If they haven’t, have they had success with similar backgrounds? Will their training model fill in enough of the blanks for you?

  1. During the interview process find out what the most difficult aspects of the position are.  Then ask yourself if these difficult aspects align with your strengths.  With some medical sales positions for example, inter-hospital politics can be one of this biggest stumbling blocks to winning and maintaining success.  How adept are you at the political game? Does playing politics drive you crazy?
  2. Ask tough questions.  Why is the position open? If the previous rep failed, why? And how did the rep before that do in that territory? Personally I’m not too concerned when previous reps fail (as less than 50% of sales reps are truly competent) unless it was for reasons that were out of their control.  Not all hiring managers are transparent but some will tell you exactly what happened.  These are questions that we (our recruiters here at Sales Talent) routinely ask our clients before starting a search.  If there are unique challenges in a particular territory we want to be transparent about them and find a candidate with the skillset to overcome them.  On the flip side, turning around a troubled territory is usually a fast path to getting noticed by the executive team.
  3. Don’t allow how much you like the hiring manager to cloud thinking through the fit of the position.  Having a great manager is critical and should definitely be a major reason to a join a company.  However it should never be the reason to join a company.  A great manager can inspire you to new heights but they can’t make you love a job that you’re a bad fit for.
  4. Unless you truly are motivated only by money don’t just chase the money.  Don’t misunderstand me, if you’re underpaid for your talents, start looking.  Just keep in mind the other aspects of a position that you find motivating such as: career development, sense of team or challenge.  Internally we have a phrase at Sales Talent for the sales rep that only chases money – BBD.  Bigger, Better Deal.  You can see it in their resume when they get a new job every 18-24 months for, you guessed it, more money.  There are several problems with this approach to your career.  A primary problem is that the ramp up and sales cycles get longer and longer the higher up the sales food chain you go with your career.  If it takes a company 18-24 months to break even on a hire, how can they choose you if you’ll most likely be gone by then? Don’t doom yourself to a life of mid-tier of sales opportunities.

In closing, don’t let fear stop you from advancing your sales career.  Have a clear vision of what motivates you, what you’re looking for and be ready to walk away from opportunities that don’t align with your talents and goals.



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Chris Carlson

My name is Chris Carlson and I’m the founder and President of Sales Talent. This blog grew out of my desire to document and share what I’ve learned in my two plus decades of sales recruiting and leading Sales Talent. We post a new blog once a quarter on the 3rd Thursday of every January, April, July and Oct. These posts are aimed at sales professionals and leaders that speaks to talent selection, team building, or career advancement. If you have a topic that you’d like my take on, please reach out to me.

You can find Chris Carlson on LinkedIn or contact him directly at: