The Costs of Hiring the Wrong B2B Sales Person

Examining the costs of hiring the wrong B2B Sales person can be a little like peeling the layers of an onion, as one looks at intangible costs, cost of missed opportunities and actual hard costs.  Actual costs are easier to measure and include things like hiring costs, base compensation and incentives, training costs, projected lost sales, wasted leads and lost customers to name a few.  These can add up to as much as seven times the annual salary for the position.  These costs support the extremely obvious case for taking extra effort and care to hire sales professionals with the greatest chances for success with your company.

Sales is a highly skilled profession and excellent B2B sales people are hard to find, making it a challenge to build a team and drive revenue to increase business.  Let’s look at some promising and desirable characteristics of a good B2B sales rep.  Below are a few major deciding factors which, when taken into consideration, can greatly reduce the risk of a hiring mistake.

Sales Experience

Previous successful sales experience in an industry with the same or similar characteristics, or from the same industry, is the greatest indicator of success in a new sales position.   In addition to sales experience, the background qualifications need to match the description of responsibilities that your position requires. Both the industry sold to and the level within the companies at which the buying decision is made, as well as technical requirements, length of sales cycle, and transactional processes all have an impact on whether a candidate is well-suited to fill the role. If you cannot find an appropriate candidate from your direct industry, then seek as many similarities to your job description to reduce risk.

Quick Thinking

B2B sales people need to be agile thinkers with the ability to adapt quickly to various situations; they need to be able to deviate from the script and engage prospects.


The ability to make insightful observations and inferences about the prospects’ business needs, gained by developing in-depth knowledge of industry trends and customers.

Social and Emotional Intelligence

Is the candidate empathetic and sincere? Do you believe them? Listening and connecting skills are imperative.


When faced with objections or setbacks. Rejection is an everyday part of working B2B sales. Sales reps that give up too easily or take rejection personally may struggle to succeed.


This is the characteristic most often overestimated in importance when hiring salespeople.   It is really easy for a charismatic individual without persistence, work ethic and empathy to fail in sales. Do not hire based on charisma! Someone with zero charisma, who makes calls methodically and persistently will be far more successful than the over friendly, outgoing individual who is unprepared or incapable of making calls.

Technology Skills

As most companies manage their sales through complex CRM or leads management programs, B2B sales personnel will need to keep their technological skills up to par. Today, social media is an essential and unavoidable source for leads and therefore, makes technological skills a mandated requirement for an effective B2B sales rep. More important than the ability to operate technology, the ability to utilize data and technology strategically is crucial to above average performance.

Possess An Urgency To Close Sales

As much as they listen, build relationships, fact find and provide solutions, if they are not closing the sale and asking for the order, they will not be successful.


I am surprised at how many hiring managers tell me that references are not helpful. References are crucial but must be direct previous employers who managed the candidate. We go to great lengths to personally speak to 3-5 previous supervisors. These recommendations will give you a reliable pattern of work ethic, sales success, and detailed characteristics of your applicant. If a prospective salesperson does not have past supervisors as references, proceed with caution. Prior customers and coworkers are much less credible as references than supervisors. Finally, it is very reasonable and effective to perform a legal, driving and/or credit background check. Personality profiles can also be easily conducted to provide thorough feedback and additional information, but this is an entire topic on its own.


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