How to Quadruple Your Hiring Success Rate With Science

John Pyke

The ability for HR to consistently hire the best talent is perhaps one of the biggest unsolved mysteries and areas of opportunity at almost every organization. The purpose of this article is to provide HR with advanced insight on how to predictably and systematically identify and hire the best talent. Today, more than ever, executives want to move risk as far away from them as possible by making decisions based on proven analytics. As a result, utilizing a time-tested, scientifically proven hiring solution backed by over 30 independent validity studies, conducted on tens of thousands of people provides executives with the confidence they want when it comes to hiring. Since sales roles are among the most difficult positions to hire, the focus will be on building a world-class sales team. However, the principles covered are universal and apply to all positions.

The 20/80 Rule

Have you ever wondered why 20% of the sales force at virtually every organization globally, consistently sells 80% of the total sales revenue? Or how to consistently hire the top 20% for new hire purposes? The reason the 20/80 Rule exists in sales is the top 20% possess “Sales DNA” or “Innate Talents” the other 80% do not (more on this later). Consider the difference using a proven science for hiring makes. Physician Sales and Service were selected by “Sales & Marketing Magazine” as one of the top 10 sales forces in America – and rightly so. They experienced 40% annual growth - seven times their industry average. Remarkable right? No wonder the Gallup Organization found “Recruiting is the HR function with the highest impact on revenue. Excellent recruiting practices contribute to more than 3x the revenue growth and 2x the profit margins.”

Training ≠ Sales Increase

Over the last three decades I have helped evaluate, coach, and hire over 300,000 people - most of them in sales. While working for one of the largest sales training organizations globally (at one point trusted by 85% of the Fortune 500), I learned most traditional sales training does not work. After the training, the high performers continued to be high performers and the low performers continued to be low performers. Simply put, there was no direct causal link between the training and an increase in sales. To further prove this point, in an economic downturn, senior executives appropriately typically cut this traditional training as one of the first line items in their budget. If sales training delivered results, leaders would double and triple their sales training spend in a downturn – the opposite is true.

The truth is exceptional sales performance is more of a science than an art. With the help of science, we have learned unless a person’s brain is hardwired a certain way, they will not and cannot excel in sales – period! This hardwiring is the biggest reason for success and failure in selling or any other role. While personality and motivation are factors, they are not nearly as important as “Innate Talents.” There is a compelling, direct connection between high scores of what I call the “Sales DNA” or “Innate Talents” and high performance in selling. Selling then, is a complex, internal game, consisting of hidden, critical and very specific “Sales DNA.” A partial list of the “Sales DNA” required for high performance selling includes: self-starting ability; handling rejection; persistence; drive; self-discipline and 70 more hidden, critical attributes. I recently interviewed the Vice President of the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World, Dan Cockerell. Regarding talent he said, “Learn what your talent is…what is ridiculously easy for some is excruciatingly difficult for others.” Organizations that possess the ability to measure a candidate’s talents or how well they are able to perform a certain function have a massive competitive advantage.

At the height of the recession in 2010 and after seven years of negative sales growth with greater than a 50% sales turnover rate, Furnitureland South retained our services. In their first month working with us, they experienced an unprecedented 48% sales growth and were featured on the CBS Evening News With Katie Couric.

CBS Evening News Clip from John Pyke on Vimeo.

In our first full year working together, they achieved their first sales growth in eight years and eliminated their 50%+ sales turnover. Using a proven science to evaluate and develop your existing team and using this same proven science for hiring is a total game changer.

The Tip of the Iceberg

Since the “Sales DNA” cannot be taught or learned, selecting salespeople based on the “Sales DNA” is absolutely critical. Although the traditional approach is to hire based on an interview, industry experience or perhaps with the assistance of using a limited, one-dimensional personality assessment, these are all woefully inadequate. Otherwise, the 20/80 Rule would not exist at virtually every organization. The graphic below helps to explain why most organizations are flying blind and have a significant disadvantage when hiring. The interview is like an iceberg. In an interview, you are only able to access or see merely 12% of the complete person (what is above the surface). The troubling part is that the vast majority of that data is behavioral or personality only. Research conducted by Professor Frank Schmidt, professor emeritus at University of Iowa, revealed the following, “Workplace hiring data from the last 100 years reveals personality tests alone were only slightly more helpful as a predictor of future job performance than looking at just a resume alone.” Unquestionably, it is what is hidden (below the surface), that matters most. Having access to and being able to measure attributes like handling rejection, persistence and drive have an unmatched track record of quadrupling an organization’s hiring success rate.

Iceberg in water with light blue and dark blue colors

The Hardwiring of the Brain

James Watson, winner of the Nobel Prize for helping discover DNA, described the human brain as “the most complex thing we have yet discovered in our universe.” Author Daniel Pink in his book, A Whole New Mind, helps us appreciate the complexity by writing, “Our brains are extraordinary. The typical brain consists of some 100 billion cells, each of which connects and communicates with up to 10,000 of its colleagues. Together they forge an elaborate network of some one quadrillion (1,000,000,000,000,000) connections that guides how we talk, eat, breathe, and move.” Is it any wonder then why recruiting sales stars the first time, every time is such an enormous challenge? Sadly, most organizations don’t even know there is a time-tested, scientifically proven instrument to measure what is most important for consistent high performance. The great news is the costly, frustrating guesswork of hiring can be significantly reduced. It is time to stop making critical hiring decisions based on guesswork or incomplete information.

My newest book entitled, Hire Fast Fire Fast – How Scientific Breakthroughs Eliminate Costly Hiring Mistakes is scheduled for release in 2018. The main point is a time-tested, scientifically proven set of analytics enables one to be supremely confident in the quality of hiring decisions which is turn helps to quadruple hiring success rates. The author of Mavericks at Work states, “Leaders…understand that the only sustainable form of market leadership is thought leadership.” What I have shared with you is undeniable sales truth and sales thought leadership validated by a history of proven results. To experience the power of the “Sales DNA” firsthand, I invite you to test drive our capabilities. You will never look at hiring, sales and peak performance the same way. The time is now to replace hiring guesswork with certainty.