It is always a red flag when sales people leave jobs before 18 months. I would say the first 6-9 months are really about the individual learning about the company, the products, and seeing if they are a good cultural fit. The next 9 months are really about performance. Either you get it and do well in your job, or companies feel like there is a need for a change. Would you agree?

It is true most of the time. Not all the time.

I talk to people all of the time who have had short tenures at jobs. I have heard it all. I know that sometimes it isn’t the individual’s fault for making a job change. After all, things do happen. I also know that somewhere in your career you are going to have a failed venture. Sometimes, it takes a failed venture to prepare you for your next role. Trust me, I understand.

What is bothersome is when sales people consistently have short tenures. When I see 18 months at one job, 9 months at the next and then 1 year at your latest job, I begin to question is it you or is it the company you are working for that is causing the job changes.

When an economy is in a recession, it is common to see “layoffs” or “downsizing”, but in a thriving economy, companies begin to get concerned. I don’t blame them. As you get older, your career can either progress or regress if you are in a sales role. If it begins to regress, you have a long uphill battle to climb because the high paying jobs you want will not be available to you.

I know there are risk takers. I, for one, am a huge risk taker. I don’t mind pushing all of my cards in to see if I can win. If you want to hit the bulls eye , sometimes you have to do something that others will not. Working for start-ups is a risk. In 2017, you are seeing an abundance of start- up roles. I would say if you join a start-up, make sure you have done your research.

You need to know how much money the company is making and how much VC money they have coming in. Be sure you understand the leadership and the product that they are selling before taking a role with a start-up. Understanding the vision is essential when you roll the dice.

So, if you are a company and looking to hire sales talent, how do you decipher which candidate is better than the other? Despite common theory, not all sales people who have less than 18 months tenure are bad sales people. Here are some questions to determine what kind of sales person you are really getting. Hiring the wrong person can be detrimental to your company and cost you a lot of time and energy.

  1. You worked for company XYZ. Tell me what attracted you work at this company? – This question will allow you to determine how well the candidate evaluated their previous company before joining. Was he/she desperate for a job or did they make an educated risk and it didn’t work out?
  2. Tell me about the leadership at XYZ Company. This can tell you how they interacted with the leadership at the company before leaving. If you find the candidate is constantly badmouthing their former employers, the problem may not be the employers, but the candidate!
  3. Why did you leave? Okay this seems simple enough, but you will be amazed at the answers I get. It could be company funding. It could be the product. It could be the quotas. It could be the territory. You need to understand what kind of individual you are getting. Ask them point blank.
  4. What is the biggest deal you sold? This will cut through the crap. If they haven’t sold anything, don’t hire them. If they badmouth the employer, the leadership, the product and a bad territory, then cut your meeting short. Your time is valuable and you don’t need to waste any more of your time.
  5. Did You Hit President’s Club? There are some great sales people who have overachieved quota and done some great things in 18 months. You shouldn’t discount them, but proceed with caution. You may be that next employer that gets a short-term hire. Like I said earlier, it takes time, money, and energy to on-board people.
  6. What would you have done differently at XYZ Company? This will tell you if they blame other people for their mistakes or own their own mistakes. If they can tell you something they have learned and not made the same mistake over and over, it is worth listening to what they have to say.
  7. What are you looking for in your next company? So often companies are so busy talking, they forget to listen. Does your company offer what they are looking for in a role? If you are talking to an account manager and you are asking them to hunt new business, then you may get an employee that only lasts 18 months.
  8. What attracts you to this company? If they are talking to you about a role, you need to understand in their own words why they think this is the right role for them. After asking them this question, you may realize that they are an ideal candidate OR they don’t know anything about what you do and really shouldn’t be considered for your role.
  9. Are you a risk taker? So, put it back on them. If they say “no”, then they haven’t been successful. They were “laid off” or “downsized” for performance. You don’t want anything to do with them. Move on. If they say “yes”, then ask why they are risk takers. Get to know who you are hiring.
  10. What questions do you have for me? What kind of research have they done on YOU? YOUR COMPANY? C’mon, they should do their due diligence and have some educated, well thought out questions.

In conclusion, since unemployment is low and the pool of available candidates has shrunk it is important to view every candidate. You should even evaluate candidates with short tenure. Move forward with caution and ask the right questions and you can build your dream team.