Your Gut is Not Always Good at Hiring

Steve LudwigHiring ChallengesLeave a Comment

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As a B2B tech startup, you have likely already experienced the challenges of building and scaling your business. From developing a product that meets the needs of your target market to securing funding and building a strong team, the journey of a startup is often fraught with obstacles.

One of the most significant challenges that many startups face is hiring their first salesperson. This can be a daunting task, as the success of your sales team can make or break your business. Not only do you need to find someone who is skilled at selling and has a strong understanding of your product, but you also need to avoid the pitfalls of cognitive bias when you are in the hiring process.

Cognitive bias refers to the tendency of our brains to process information in a way that is not always rational or objective. It is where we have a tendency to make decisions based on our preconceived notions and beliefs, our gut instinct, rather than on evidence. This can lead to making poor hiring decisions that don’t necessarily align with the needs of the company.

When it comes to hiring your first salesperson, cognitive bias can be especially dangerous. It can lead you to overlook qualified candidates who may not fit your preconceived notion of what a “good” salesperson looks like, or to hire someone who may not be the best fit for your team but who matches your own biases.

To avoid using cognitive bias when hiring your first salesperson, follow these tips:

  1. Understand what you really need for the role. As we have discussed, the best person for the first sales role in a B2B tech startup is a Pathfinder salesperson. Pathfinders have a very distinct and unique skillset that includes an ability to work with the ambiguity that occurs in startups that change and adapt as they grow. They have an excitement around building something new; are curious problem solvers; and remain positive no matter what comes their way.
  2. Be open to a diverse range of candidates/cast a wide net. One of the biggest challenges of cognitive bias is that it can lead us to overlook candidates who may not fit our preconceived notions of what a “good” candidate looks like. We have seen too many tech startups hire a Playbook salesperson, thinking someone with extensive sector experience and a good Rolodex is going to bring in the cash. We have found there are many diamonds in the rough that would be a great hire because they have the right mix of skills and attitudes—a Pathfinder. To avoid this, make sure to consider a diverse range of candidates, including those with different backgrounds and experiences.
  3. Avoid putting in bias in your job posting. We have mentioned previously that sometimes people exclude their best candidates just by the way they write the advertisement for the position. 
  4. Use an assessment as your first screen. When you screen a candidate based on just their resume and cover letter, that’s a huge place where bias creeps in. And, when most people spend just 8 seconds with a resume when looking at it for the first time, there is almost no way that bias can’t creep in. With an assessment tool, you ensure that you are focusing on those skills and attributes that really matter.  
  5. Use structured interviews. Structured interviews can help to minimize the impact of cognitive bias by providing a more objective basis for evaluating candidates. By using the same set of questions and criteria for every candidate, you can ensure that each person is evaluated on their own merit, rather than being judged based on your own biases.

So, how do you find Pathfinder salespeople and an assessment tool? That’s where The Right Five can help. We have developed a fully automated system that screens candidates to find five 

Pathfinder salespeople so you can pick the one that is the best fit for your startup.

The Right Five delivers:

  • A quick and painless hiring process: The Right Five automates the candidate assessment/scoring/communication leaving you simply with the selection of those Pathfinders you want to interview.
  • Fast on-ramping: Because your first Sales hire needs to be a Pathfinder (the clue is in the name) their need for on-ramping is minimal.
  • Reduced risk: The Right Five reduces the risk for you because our online assessment/rules engine identifies Pathfinders, i.e the candidates who will be successful as the first Sales hire.

Want to find out more? Watch this five-minute overview and demo of The Right Five or send us a note and we will set up a meeting.

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