Resumes are marketing documents. Some entrepreneurs assume that resumes contain the gospel truth when it comes to a candidate’s background and experience. The truth of the matter is that resumes are engineered to highlight (even embellish) strengths and accomplishments while omitting clear and obvious failures. Think about it – have you ever seen a resume that read, “Hit 56% of target sales target due to my inability to set appointments and unwillingness to consistently make cold calls”?
Treat resumes like you would any other piece of marketing collateral. They serve to tell you the features and benefits, but come up short on the deficiencies. That’s where a keen eye and experience come into play.
It takes a salesperson 6 months to become productive. With rare exceptions, I advise customers to expect a six-month ramp-up period when hiring new sales staff. The first 90 days are a write-off from a production standpoint, and the next three should yield slow but steadily increasing progress. By month 6, they should be in full-on selling mode. Within the year they should be consistent. This timeline affects the lens through which a manager should look at a sales resume.
For example, if a salesperson has been at their current employer for less than 6 months and is looking for work, that’s a major red flag. What that tells me is that either this person is failing miserably and knows it; or they made a huge mistake in accepting the position and they want out. People make mistakes, and I’ve seen a number of cases where great candidates have taken a job only to realize that their new employer is headquartered in the Arctic Circle. Most of the time I find that the reason they’re leaving is because the feel like they’ll fail in the job, and are cutting their losses early.
No matter the reason, what a duration of less than 6 months on a resume tells me is that the salesperson didn’t do enough fact-finding during the interview process to make a good decision, or that they’re not cutting it and are afraid for their job (or were fired). Both insights tell me that they’re not at the top of the game, and that I should keep looking. I have made some exceptions to this rule, but only after really digging into the facts.
Are you so desperate to throw your company’s money at a salesperson that you’d hire someone whose resume creates doubt before they’re even in the job? Someone better is out there, with less baggage – Take your time to make the right hire.
Great salespeople don’t leave jobs where they’re making money. It’s human nature. If you’re earning a cool $250,000 a year selling cloud solutions and crushing your quotas in the process, chances are that you’re a hero at your company. Praise flows freely, and you get sent on trips where you sit on a beach with your family and drink rum cocktails. You’re probably happy. Well maybe a slight exaggeration, but you get the point!
What you emphatically don’t do is actively look for another job. I can’t stress this point enough – great salespeople don’t leave great jobs. Great salespeople leave that great job when the company decides to cap their earnings, or because they get acquired and the new regime wrecks what was working. They don’t want to start over working for you and your giant question mark without a major upgrade to compensation potential.
Here’s what it all means for you as the hiring manager with regards to the resume review: If a salesperson is looking for a job that should immediately makes you wary. If this person has stints of less than 6 months on their resume, that’s a warning that there’s something more to the story. Why? Because it takes at least 6 months for even a great salesperson to get to a consistent, quota-reaching level of production. Make sure you know why they’re looking for a new gig. The answer, “because I’m looking for more opportunity” typically translates to “I’m not making my number.” You need to find out why.
What’s been your experience? Chime in and let me know your thoughts.