Stop hiring salespeople who cannot sell.

Avoid repeating sales hiring sins of the past.

by Chris Young

Hope is not a strategy.

Hope without meaningful action is insanity.

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.” - Albert Einstein.

You know what most CEOs, VPs of Sales and HR does when an under-performing salesperson or Sales Wolf (or one in-between) leaves?

They do little or nothing more than look for a replacement. And that is a waste.

Choosing to not study what went well and what did not is recipe for repeating sins of the past. 

That is insanity.

Never miss the powerful lessons only an autopsy feedback loop will provide.

Stop hiring salespeople who cannot sell.

Two massive sales opportunity losses.

Following are two massive sales opportunity costs you must be keenly aware of:
  • Sales that under-performing salespeople miss. Under-performing salespeople miss sales that feed your company's bottom line. 
  • Sales that your Sales Wolves capture working for a competitor after they leave you. Lost Sales Wolves generate sales that feed your competitors.

Neither are captured nor illustrated in accounting. 

If accounting truly-captured the opportunity losses associated with the hiring of lousy salespeople and the loss of Sales Wolves, heads would roll. 

The tell tale signs are always there.

You just need to be open to seeing them.

  • Future under-performing salespeople have sales personality traits and sales hiring scorecard elements that predict future low performance.
  • Future Sales Wolves have sales personality traits and sales hiring scorecards that predict future top performance. 

The signs and patterns are there. You just need to be open to seeing them.

An under-performing salesperson is insanely expensive.

Every under-performing salesperson represents missed / wasted opportunities. Sales are missed. Customers who should be yours go to the competition. Referrals are missed. Your sales culture suffers. Shareholder value is lost. And Sales Wolves hate sales teams filled with under-performing salespeople. 

When a new or existing salesperson fails to perform, you must understand what you did wrong. It is essential to double down on what is working and stop doing what is not.

The only way out of this problem is to take responsibility and work through it. You must own the problem or it will recur without a doubt.

What I am about to say will be painful. And appropriately so. 

You. Screwed. Up.

You are in charge. What happens under you is on you.

If you are the CEO, VP of Sales or HR, you screwed up somewhere. Do not blame anyone else. Own this problem and go find out what went wrong. This is where growth and improvement comes from.

If you are the CEO, it is absolutely your role to be involved in EVERY final sales selection decision.

Following are autopsy areas we recommend serious review / consideration by category:

Sales Selection

  • How did the under-performing salesperson score against the sales hiring scorecard?
  • Was the sales hiring scorecard followed? What does the under-performing salesperson's scorecard suggest? 
  • Was a sales personality test completed by the under-performing salesperson?
  • How well did the under-performing salesperson's "sales personality" fit the job benchmark?
  • Was there anything "interesting" about the under-performing salesperson's sales personality test results that requires further review?
  • How would one characterize the search the under-performing salesperson was sourced from? Were they selected from a finite group of finalists (best of the group) or did the search continue until the best possible sales candidate who lit up all aspects of the sales hiring scorecard was discovered?

What should be improved upon in your sales selection process?


  • Was an onboarding plan in place?
  • Was the onboarding plan followed?
  • What should be improved upon in the onboarding plan?
  • Were there any challenges in onboarding?
  • Did the under-performing salesperson know what was expected of them?
  • Was the under-performing salesperson held accountable to an activity standard?
  • How did the under-performing salesperson engage onboarding and sales training?

What should be improved upon in your onboarding process?

Sales Coaching

  • Was a sales coaching plan in place?
  • Was the sales coaching plan followed?
  • How was the under-performing salesperson engaging and reacting appropriately to the coaching plan?

What should be improved upon in your sales coaching plan process?

Sales Performance Accountability / Sales Management

  • Was the under-performing salesperson aware of an activity standard?
  • Was the under-performing salesperson held accountable to meeting / exceeding the activity standard?
  • How did the under-performing salesperson respond to their sales manager's management?

What should be improved upon in your sales performance accountability / sales management?

Sales Environment

  • Is there anything unique about the sales environment or the sales territory the under-performing salesperson worked in?

What should be improved upon in the sales environment to make the under-performing salesperson more successful?

Sales Culture

  • Did the under-performing salesperson fit in with other salespeople?
  • Is the culture of the sales team one of accountability for actions and results?
  • Is the culture of the sales team one of playing favorites based on relationship?

Is your sales culture what you hope it to be? Hope is not a strategy.


  • Did the under-performing salesperson feel their sales manager believed in them?
  • Was there a personality conflict between the under-performing salesperson and their sales manager?
  • Did the sales manager seem to like the under-performing salesperson?
  • Did the under-performing salesperson lose their mojo?
  • Did the under-performing salesperson feel the sales role was misrepresented?

How could the salesperson have been helped to improve / maximize their mindset (if

Even if you believe you know the answer to the above questions, dig into each of the above autopsy areas. One problem area often interacts / compounds another quite differently.

Do not assume.

You must know as definitively as possible.

A Sales Wolf leaving to work for another company or worse yet a competitor is insanely expensive.

Notice my language. It is intentional. It is painful. The Sales Wolf left you.

Repeat after me, "The Sales Wolf left me."

Avoid losing your best salespeople to competitors.

Now take a deep breath.

This is powerful personal accountability.

When you take accountability, you will own the problem. And you must own this problem. You must know definitively the real reason(s) why every single Sales Wolf leaves.

And you do not send others to get the answers. YOU get the answers.

Keep in mind...Sales Wolves do not always leave alone. They often leave in groups of two or three or four. Failure to quickly and comprehensively understand areas for improvement could lead to compounding your loss of Sales Wolves.

Sales Wolves are the LIFEBLOOD of your company.

Review prior questions for under-performing salespeople. Yes, you must review the same areas.

Additional areas to discover:

  • Is the Sales Wolves sales manager a Sales Wolf themselves? (Sales Wolves do not work well with non-Sales Wolf managers.)
  • Did the Sales Wolf feel appreciated?
  • Did the Sales Wolf feel fairly compensated?
  • Did the Sales Wolf leave for more income upside / advancement opportunity?
  • Did the Sales Wolf feel fairly treated?
  • Was the Sales Wolf challenged in the role?

Walking into emotional propeller blades sucks.

These autopsy opportunities are there for a reason. They are learning opportunities.

And the truth is few will do this essential work because the emotional pain is too great.

The good news is when you do this work, you and your sales team will be better for it.

Suck it up and get on with it.

Request a sample sales personality aptitude test

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