Here’s a quick story about the worst hiring decision I ever made.
I was working as a sales manager at a large software company at the time. We were looking to grow and had just done a headcount. Senior management said it was time to bring another sales rep on board.
We contacted headhunters, vetted the shortlist, and interviewed the candidates. All told, it took my colleagues and me six months before we finally found someone that seemed to fit.
Even at this point, some of my colleagues had misgivings about this guy. But we were already halfway through the year and a man short. I could see I was barely going to make quota as it was. And my boss was all over me to get someone on board – fast.
I was under too much pressure to listen to what my colleagues had to say. So I decided to pull the trigger and just go with this guy. He had good references and I couldn’t wait any longer.
From the moment he came on board, there were already clues that this wasn’t going to work out. At his product training, he’d interrupt the speakers and act like he knew more than they did. When visiting his clients, he’d talk non-stop and make one wrong assumption after another about their pain and needs.
Still, I gave him the standard 6-9 months to start generating a reasonable pipeline and closing some deals. But by the end of the first year, it was clear this guy had to go. His forceful manner had already alienated a number of our clients, and back in the office I heard nothing but excuses about why our software wasn’t selling.
I was ready to kick him out on the spot. But unfortunately, company policy forced me to put him on a three-month performance review. After that, his contract gave him another three months before we could finally get rid of him.
(As if that wasn’t bad enough, when he finally did leave, he refused to give back the company iPad and iPhone he had been given.)
All told, from the moment the position opened up the moment he finally left, almost two whole years had passed.
The whole thing left a bad taste in my mouth. But I chalked it up as a learning experience and didn’t spend much time dwelling on it – until a sales trainer friend of mine brought it back up.
How much had that bad hire cost my company, he asked me one day. I guessed around $120K in salary and training. What a waste of money!
But how much revenue had we missed out on if we had brought on a standard-performing rep?
Well, average quota for us at the time was about $2 million, so that would be… almost $4 million worth of lost revenue!
In other words, that single bad hire cost us the equivalent of a luxury penthouse in Manhattan with a skyline view.
Now, maybe your quota is different, but this was still a number that really opened my eyes. It made me determined never to make the same mistake again.
With the clock ticking and my boss riding my back, I made a big compromise that led to an even bigger loss in revenue.
I didn’t take the time to make the right decision.
It’s a common scenario that a lot of sales managers have to face all the time. But through this one bad hire, I realized that no matter how high pressure was to bring on someone new, it wasn’t worth the cost of making the wrong decision.
Since then, I really spent a long time thinking about what I did wrong. Next week, I’ll be sharing the insights I’ve had as well as the concrete steps any sales manager can take to avoid hiring the wrong rep.
In the meantime, I want to know – what’s the worst hiring story you’ve got? I know some of you must have brought on some pretty rotten apples. Now’s the time to spill the details!
Let us know in the comments below.