A SalesForce article suggests more than 80% of sales managers don’t have time to train their sales hires.

Quality of Hire: Another Meaningless Metric for Sales Hires

Measuring recruitment success in the sales department has never been more important. In today’s hyper-competitive landscape, every sales hire counts. Time-to-fill, the all-time most important recruitment metric, has been replaced with an overarching obsession for “quality of hire.” Yet one deeply entrenched problem remains inherent in this metric. Unlike measuring time-to-fill, which is a fairly straight forward calculation, untethering quality of hire from other variables is virtually impossible. You don’ have a shot at making this measurement meaningful for your sales hires. It’s too intertwined and dependent upon other pre-hire variables.

Regardless, there’s a lot of focus these days on “quality of hire.”

Let’s look at a simple example.  

High Quality Tools

Let’s say I want to dig a hole. I go to my digging expert and tell her to give me the best shovel in town. She has a store filled with plenty of tools, i.e. trowels, shovels, trench diggers, jack hammers, and even bulldozers.

I pick the shovel because it’s inexpensive compared to my other options and I can afford “top quality.” Plus, I found one that I like; the Ames Round Point Shovel with a fiberglass handle. It’s top notch and the best round shovel available. Online reviews tout it’s the best shovel money can buy. And it’s been awarded the best round shovel for three consecutive years.

After looking around and assessing all my options I make my choice confidently. After all, I know a lot about shovels. I’ve been using them for years, so I’m confident in my knowledge and decision making skills.  

When Things Go Wrong

After a few weeks of using the shovel, I get tired. My hands are bleeding, blistered, and my back can’t take it anymore.

Although it’s a high-quality tool, well-built, and easy to use; it’s going to take me months to get this hole finished. In hindsight, it’s evident I should have gone with a jackhammer. I’m not as young as I used to be, and I don’t have the energy or time for this method. The soil is hard and I need a tool that will get results now. Six months from now is too long to wait. Although I hate it when I’m wrong, I regret my choice.

The Real Mistake

Now obviously, I made a big mistake. And it had nothing to do with quality.  

The shovel didn’t break in my hands even after two weeks of heavy use. Nope, the shovel didn’t let me down. Can I blame the girl who sold me the shovel? Not really. I told her that’s what I wanted. I didn’t give the other tools much consideration because I thought I knew what I needed.

Thousands of Factors to Consider

The real mistake in this case was that I chose the wrong tool despite its “high-quality. I didn’t take the time to assess the project, review the desired outcome, or plan the time frame for achieving results.

In fact, there were thousands of other factors I should have contemplated before I walked in the tool shop. But when I got there, I simply went with what I was comfortable with. I picked what worked for me in the past, and I was over reliant on my previous experience.

There are many reasons you may not get results from your sales hires.

Most have nothing to do with “quality of hire.”

A high-quality shovel will never produce the same results as a low-quality jackhammer. They are simply designed for different jobs.

Is High-Quality an Insightful or Practical Metric?

What’s “high-quality” mean? Does it have any value in my situation? No! The highest quality shovel won’t do anything for me. I’ll have to spend thousands of hours digging that I simply don’t have. (A SalesForce article suggests over 80% of sales managers don’t have time to train their sales hires.) Or I can ditch the shovel idea, return it, and go for the tool I should have gotten in the first place.

Hiring mistakes not only look bad, they waste valuable resources. Most hiring mistakes stem from hiring the wrong person for the job. Sticking with our analogy, some people will:

  • Choose the shovel when they need a jackhammer.
  • Pick the spoon and wonder why it’s taking so long to dig the hole.
  • Take the bulldozer and wonder why it sits idle all the time costing them so much money when all they need to do is dig a tiny hole.

Tim Gunn’s ‘make-it work” slogan makes for great reality TV, but on the sales battlefield, we don't have the luxury of costly mistakes.  “Making it work” with the wrong sales hires can create additional problems that hiring the wrong salespeople causes.

Assuming your company has the right leadership in place, hiring the wrong person for the job starts before the interview process begins. Many times, it starts with the job description, expectations, and preconceived ideas about what a successful hire looks and behaves like during the interview process.

Focus on Tracking Metrics that Matter Now

There are too many variables hiding in “quality-of-hire” to be meaningful. Instead focus on metrics that can be easily defined and measured.

Track metrics that are untethered from multiple variables and are easy to asses, e.g. voluntary quits, % of quota achieved in first 12 month, average rep tenure, lead/rep, average ARR, and more.

The Most Important Metric is Easy to Measure

Stop wasting valuable resources measuring things that don’t matter and have no direct correlation to your success. Work on recruiting and hiring the best salespeople you can. Focus on meeting revenue numbers and getting the right leadership in place. Put your attention on numbers that can be adequately measured and agreed on.

And most importantly, keep your attention on the number that will always matter most---revenue.