Mishires in the Sales team: Here’s why all scaleups struggle

I have to make a confession here. Our first sales hire was a mishire..

I have to make a confession here. Our first sales hire was a mishire. Yes, Equalture is a company that builds software to actually help companies prevent making the wrong hiring decisions. But we failed ourselves. In case you don’t know us yet: Equalture’s hiring software makes use of gamification (measuring skills and personality) to help scaleups SMBs hire people on predictive data instead of gut feeling and biases.

And yes, we did use our own software for this hire. But we still failed. I can hear you thinking: How is that even possible? Well, here’s why, as well as how you can prevent this from happening.

The art of selling,..

Selling is an art. Here at Equalture, my Co-Founder (and twin sister) Fleur is our CCO – and she’s an absolute sales wonder. Not because she’s pushy or because she stunts with discounts all day. But because she masters the art of selling. 

Fleur has the exceptional ability to be both a good listener and a storyteller. The ability to find the right tone of voice for each conversation, without letting go of Equalture’s tone of voice. The ability to deal with 9 no’s, and to get her joy out of that 1 yes. And the ability to actually understand the problem behind a problem. Fleur is conscientious, accurate, empathic, flexible, and a problem solver. Fleur, if you’re reading this – kudos to you.

.. and the danger of selling.

If you google ‘Sales methodologies’, the internet explodes from the articles explaining each and every one of the dozens of methodologies in the greatest detail. You would be thinking: Why are there so many different sales approaches? Isn’t there just one magic recipe?

The answer to this question is a hard no.

And that’s simply because the best sales approach for your specific company depends on a lot of different factors.

But what about the danger of selling? Isn’t a good salesperson supposed to be able to sell anything to anyone?

Selling anything to anyone is a tactic built entirely upon nonsense and should never be used. Especially not when selling B2B. Yes, it might help reach the monthly revenue goals set out, yet it will not create and foster a business model that is sustainable in the long run. The ability to sell without being obnoxious and with actually investing the time to understand the problem behind the pain point is a form of art and not everyone is made for it.

The requirements for sales change continuously and can be a thousand percent different per organisation. This makes it not only extremely difficult to train people, but it also won’t allow you to evaluate candidates based on their previous experience. Your sales approach can namely be worlds apart from your competitors.

Yet, we still heavily rely on the resume when selecting sales candidates, and when we do make use of an assessment, all assessment tools provide you with a one-size-fits-all Sales Executive assessment.

An example: The 3Ps of a Sales Executive

I always use the 3 Ps to describe the context on which the success of a Sales Executive depends:

  • Product: Is your product very straightforward and feature-focused, or more complex and solution-focused;
  • Price: Do you sell a hundred subscriptions to small companies, or ten subscriptions to larger companies;
  • People: Do you sell to decision-makers, or to stakeholders who need to sell your product to decision-makers.

A different combination of these three dimensions requires a completely different Sales Executive, for example, – but unfortunately, most of us don’t take this context into account when deciding who we hire for each open position in the sales team.

To give you an example of this, if you’re selling a product that is more complex and solution-focused then the job of your sales team is to be able to successfully identify the problem and pain points of prospects, effectively address these paint points and make the prospects believe that your product is the best solution to the problems they are facing.

If you hire someone who cannot see through the words of the prospects what are the issues they are facing, then this person will not be able to communicate solutions your product offers to the prospect in a convincing manner.

Nothing kills a sales process more than lack of or inadequate understanding of the product.

The danger of not knowing why: A ‘blueprint’ of your top-performers

Sales is a skills job. You can have zero experience with sales and become the top-seller in your team, or you can have years and years of experience without being able to close a single deal. Just because your skillset doesn’t match the skills required in your specific organisation or sales team. 

Here at Equalture, we have the privilege to be able to work with our own product – a hiring software that leverages neuroscientific games (measuring skills and personality) to objectively and unbiasedly map someone’s skills, talents and behaviours

On top of that, we have a so-called Teams feature in our platform, allowing you to let your current team members complete the games, with the aim to get a better understanding of the represented skills, talents and behaviours. This can be used to do a top-performer analysis – by putting your top-performers together in a team, you get a crystal clear overview of these team members together.

By performing the top-performer analysis we found out what it takes to successfully sell our product:

  • Conscientiousness;
  • Adaptability;
  • Critical thinking;
  • Collaborative skills.

In fact, we for example don’t benefit from a lot of competition within the sales team, while most companies think that this will increase productivity. However, now that we have those data-driven insights into our team, we exactly know what to look for in a next hire.

Keen to try out one of our games, measuring one of our required sales skills, yourself? Leave your details below and start your game right away. However, we won’t tell you what we will measure only until after you’ve completed it. 😉 

We had to learn it the hard way too. Failing first, before realising that recruiting people from other B2B SaaS companies, or even HR (tech) companies isn’t necessarily the key to success for a sales position within Equalture. In fact, our Sales Lead, Greg, who’s doing an amazing job here, worked at Accenture before. Not the typical company to compare ourselves with. 😉

I would therefore really encourage you to have a brainstorm together with your CCO, Sales Manager, or top-performers to reveal what that secret skill-blend looks like for your organisation. Also, if you’d like to learn more about how our gamified approach can help you do this in an objective and data-backed manner, feel free to reach out to us

After all, selling is art, and you simply need it in order to survive.

Charlotte Melkert Co-Founder and CEO of Equalture in Portrait picture

Cheers, Charlotte
Founder & CEO

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