The #1 Sales Hiring Mistake That’s Insanely Easy To Avoid

The #1 Sales Hiring Mistake That’s Insanely Easy To Avoid

So you’re hiring a new salesperson for your team.

Do you hire for sales experience, or do you take a chance on a keen, albeit inexperienced, salesperson?

An experienced salesperson is a pretty attractive option. What manager wouldn’t want someone who already knows the ropes and can hit the ground running? It seems like an obvious choice, right?

Well, like a penguin that fell in a paint bucket, it’s not completely black and white. Green recruits have a lot to offer your sales team that a veteran salesperson simply cannot by virtue of their experience, and this shouldn’t be overlooked.

And inexperienced isn’t synonymous with ‘young’. It could be someone who is switching careers or coming back after a sabbatical. They may be inexperienced in sales, but could have other valuable experience and competencies, like cross-team collaboration, communication skills, and management expertise. These skills can more than compensate for hardcore sales experience, and that gap can be covered with good salesperson training.

Obviously, you wouldn’t want to hire a fresh graduate for the position of sales manager. Senior roles require experienced people to steer properly.

The point is, you shouldn’t always hire for sales experience. There are plenty of good reasons to bring an inexperienced salesperson on board, and I’m going to tell you about them in this post.

Inexperienced salespeople cost less

Not to put too fine a point on it, but experience is expensive. The more seasoned a salesperson is, the more they can demand.

An inexperienced salesperson would be willing to start for less and grow into the role.

You will have to make a certain investment in training, but you can eventually build them into someone who will be worth the higher pay.

training a new sales recruit

But salary isn’t the only concern when hiring for sales experience. The experienced salesperson may be in a position to demand extras, like bonuses, stock-options, flextime, etc. Plus, they can quickly outgrow their position and look for bigger roles elsewhere.

Salespeople who are just starting out are less likely to jump ship soon since they are learning from you. Besides posing less of a turnover risk, they are more flexible, open to constructive criticism, and eager for feedback.

Experienced salespeople can come with bad habits

The saying about old dogs and new tricks is applicable here.

When people have been in any profession for a while, they have a wealth of information and best practices. But they tend to get entrenched in their go-to methods. They figure what worked elsewhere will work for here too.

And by and large, that may be true. But it’s probably not true for everything. Besides, they may bring with them habits that are downright bad, and don’t gel with your way of working at all. This could cause friction in your team.

Their experience thus becomes a hindrance if they are inflexible and not open to adapting to the new reality.

Inexperienced hires, on the other hand, are blank slates. They don’t come with preconceived notions or ingrained habits that are hard to break. They can be moulded to fit your team culture without having to unlearn old routines.

Inexperienced salespeople are easier to train

Continuing from the previous point, with green sales reps you have a fresh start. You’ll have a much easier time teaching them to operate with your team’s established processes.

Yes – you will have a lot more to teach them. A lot of the things you probably take for granted as “well, everyone, knows that” you’ll have to actually teach.

sales leader training new reps

But skills can always be taught. With a little training for sales reps, they’ll be up to speed in a finite time. Unlearning old habits, however, is much more difficult and can take a lot more time.

Additionally, younger recruits (that is, fresh grads) are more likely to have recent and relevant information provided to them during their education.

Inexperienced reps work harder and innovate

It’s usually the case that green recruits are eager to prove themselves and work harder. They are hungry to learn and advance their careers, and this is a good time to harness that energy.

That’s not to say that experienced sales folks don’t have energy... 

But let’s be real here –  you remember your first day as a wide-eyed sales rep, right?

Fresh recruits are more curious, they are more likely to take risks and try new things, and they want to see how far things can bend before they break. They could have a much bigger impact on your team than you expect. 

Waiting for sales experience may delay hiring

You may be in a situation where you are just not able to find someone that meets the experience requirements that you have set. The longer you wait, the longer the role goes unfilled, and the longer you’ll be missing out on sales to add to your team’s revenue intake.

What then? How long will you wait until the perfect candidate comes along?

Instead, it might make a lot more sense to give someone with less experience a chance. You might need to give them some training, but at least you know you can get them to making calls rather than holding out for an experienced rep and falling behind on your numbers.

You can establish loyalty

A seasoned sales rep is likely to think they can get a job anywhere they apply to, particularly in a candidate’s job market.

But when you hire someone new to the market, they feel an automatic sense of gratitude for giving them their first (or a fresh) start in the profession. You have a chance to build a long-lasting relationship with them.

When you invest resources in training them, mentor them, and nurture their professional goals, it engenders loyalty to your organization. A green recruit is likely to stick around for longer, as long as there are opportunities for learning and growth.


Wrap Up

You might have read through these points and still be thinking, “Hiring an inexperienced salesperson is a risk, no matter what you say.” I would agree with you. But what hire isn’t a gamble?

I say if someone has the right attitude and aptitude, and you have a good feeling about them, give them the chance. They have so much to offer, they are hungry to learn and prove themselves, and in many instances they can be downright advantageous compared to a seasoned sales pro.

Besides, don’t you remember being green yourself once, and how you felt when someone gave you your first job? Wouldn’t you like to give that feeling to someone else?

To summarize, here are the top reasons to consider an inexperienced salesperson for your next hire:

  • Inexperienced salespeople cost less
  • Experienced salespeople can come with bad habits
  • Inexperienced salespeople are easier to train
  • Inexperienced reps work harder and innovate
  • Waiting for sales experience may delay hiring
  • You can establish loyalty