Why Data-Driven Hiring Is the ONLY Way to Go (ESPECIALLY in Sales!)

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If you’re looking for a Hunter – and you likely should be – don’t rely on intuition or interview performance. You need science. Here are seven reasons to assess sales aptitude before you hire.

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Chicago, IL (June 2021)—How many times have you said (or heard someone in your company say), “Wow, I just know in my gut this person will be a good salesperson.” This is how too many sales managers go about hiring. But according to Dr. Chris Croner, there’s really no such thing as the “golden gut.” And when you rely on your intuition to hire salespeople, rather than on objective aptitude data, you can end up getting burned.

“It happens all the time,” says Dr. Croner, a psychologist, sales retention and recruitment expert, and principal at SalesDrive, a content-rich resource center overflowing with educational articles, podcasts, masterclasses, science-based sales psychology strategies, and other tools and techniques aimed at helping companies maximize their sales team’s performance. “It’s just too easy to hire candidates who seem great in the interview but end up underperforming over time.

“And right now, when markets are opening back up and your competitors are launching a full-scale comeback, you can’t afford to make a bad hire,” adds Dr. Croner, who is also coauthor along with Richard Abraham of Never Hire a Bad Salesperson Again: Selecting Candidates Who Are Absolutely Driven to Succeed (The Richard Abraham Company LLC, ISBN: 978-0-9741996-1-0, $19.95).

You really need to hire a “Hunter,” he asserts. These revenue-producing superstars have the innate ability to develop new business opportunities and close new accounts.  Problem is, Hunters are rare (only 20 percent of the population). The only reliable way to snag one is by taking a data-driven scientific approach.

Dr. Croner advises sales managers to apply a sales aptitude test early in the hiring process to both capture high-potential candidates and avoid low-potential candidates. Then, follow it up with a well-conducted behavioral interview to get past the candidate’s initial impression and unearth what’s actually under the surface.

Reasons To Apply A Data-Driven Hiring Process

Here are seven reasons why data-driven hiring is the only way to go:

  1. There are lots of sub-par salespeople out there

According to HubSpot, 40 percent of all salespeople do not understand customer pain, which plays a large role in the fact that 75 percent of salespeople miss their quotas. If you don’t want to inadvertently hire one of the many smooth-talking duds that fake their way through phone and in-person interviews, you’d better weed them out with a good sales aptitude test.

  1. A bad hire simply costs too much

According to the SalesDrive website, the average cost to onboard a new employee is $240,000. Wrong hires account for nearly 80 percent of all turnover rates in business. And when you look at the big picture, you will see that if you onboard a bad hire to your team, you can actually see a bottom line cost of $840,000. This includes the cost of hiring new employees, how much it costs to keep employees on staff, the cost of paying your employees, their severance pay when you let them go, missed business opportunities, and the potential for damage to your company’s reputation and/or client relationships.

  1. Drive matters more than anything else and it’s not easy to identify

Dr. Croner says Drive is the most critical personality trait needed for success in sales. It’s made up of three non-teachable traits: need for achievement, competitiveness, and optimism. SalesDrive’s proprietary DriveTest®—an assessment based on 90 years of research on the subject as well as on the company’s own work—helps businesses identify this elusive trait in candidates before they hire one.

“They either have Drive or they don’t,” asserts Dr. Croner. “And it’s hard to tell if someone has it in an interview. Once you know Drive is present, you’ll need to identify and help them sharpen other skills like persuasiveness, resilience, and so forth—but Drive should be the price of entry.”

  1. Salespeople are masters at fooling you in an interview

Too often, the interview is the best sale you will ever see out of your candidate. They are on their best behavior, probing for your pain and promising you the world. But their performance in an interview is NOT a reliable gauge of whether they will actually be able to sell your products and services.

“Sales candidates can trick you in all sorts of ways,” says Dr. Croner. “They use their personality and charisma to build rapport with you. They exaggerate previous results. They say what you want to hear. But in the end, long after you’ve hired them, you realize you were fooled.”

  1. It’s too easy to mistake confidence for Drive

There’s nothing wrong with confidence. In fact, it is necessary for success in sales. But as too many hirers have discovered, you can’t rely on the confidence you see in a job interview to steer you toward the right candidate. For one thing, it can be faked and can overshadow true sales aptitude. It can fluctuate. It can go hand in hand with arrogance. Finally, it can manifest in different ways.

“It’s easy to overlook qualified candidates because they don’t express confidence in an outward way,” notes Dr. Croner. “Introverts are a good example—and yes, they can be great at sales.”

  1. "Demonstrated success" isn’t always enough

You might think that because a candidate has years of sales experience you don’t need a sales test. Not true. What if they have a track record of success with established products with a short sales cycle, yet your product is new and has a long sales cycle? What if the products they represent have strong brand recognition and that’s what was doing the heavy lifting? Bottom line:  you can’t assume a good track record means the person will be right for you.

  1. Personality tests are easy to fake

Quite often sale managers use basic personality test to help them hire a salesperson. Unfortunately, says Dr. Croner, these fall short in many ways. They’re not science based. They’re broad, subjective, and inconsistent. Worst of all they can be faked by a candidate angling to get hired. If the question asks the test taker to rate the statement “I am very persuasive” from 1 (not at all like you) to 5 (very much like you), they need to be honest if you’re to get accurate data. In a high-stakes scenario when the candidate is motivated to score well and knows the qualities important for the role for which they are applying, they can shape their responses to fit what the employer is likely seeking (a persuasive person for a sales role).

“That’s why we designed the DriveTest® to have a forced-choice format,” he explains. “All the answers are positive so the candidate can’t really guess what the ‘right’ one is.”


Dr. Croner says that it always surprises him when people balk at the $200.00 price tag on a solid, science-based assessment.

“It’s really a tiny investment with a huge ROI,” he says. “When you consider the huge amount you save by not hiring the wrong person—and the huge amount of revenue you generate by hiring the right one—there’s no reason not to go the data-based route.”

About the Author:

Dr. Christopher Croner is principal at SalesDrive and coauthor (along with Richard Abraham) of the book Never Hire a Bad Salesperson Again, which details his research and practice in identifying the non-teachable personality traits common to top producers. Dr. Croner received his BA in psychology from DePaul University and his master’s and PhD in clinical psychology from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. He developed the proprietary DriveTest® online sales test and The Drive Interview®, both used for hiring “Hunter” salespeople. Using this methodology, he has helped over 1,200 companies worldwide to hire and develop top-performing salespeople. To learn more please visit https://salesdrive.info.

About the Book:

Never Hire a Bad Salesperson Again: Selecting Candidates Who Are Absolutely Driven to Succeed (The Richard Abraham Company LLC, ISBN: 978-0-9741996-1-0, $19.95) is available from major online booksellers.