Why is Hiring Salespeople so Risky?

The Sales Hiring Dilemma: Unraveling the Quota Conundrum

The Sales Hiring Dilemma: Unraveling the Quota Conundrum

The world of sales is fraught with high expectations and equally high turnover rates, with a startling statistic at the center: nearly half of all new sales hires never achieve quota. This persistent issue points to a complex interplay of factors, some rooted in organizational practices and others in the personal motivations and alignments of the salespeople themselves. Among these, the lack of genuine passion for the products or services being sold stands out as a critical, yet often overlooked, determinant of success or failure in sales roles. This article explores the multifaceted reasons behind this dilemma, emphasizing the impact of personal affinity and commitment alongside organizational challenges.

The Impact of Personal Affinity on Sales Success

Passion vs. Profit Motivation

While the potential for high earnings can attract individuals to sales roles, those who enter the field primarily for financial gain, without a genuine interest in or passion for the product or service, may struggle to achieve long-term success. The absence of authentic enthusiasm can hinder a salesperson's ability to connect with customers, convey the value of the offering convincingly, and ultimately, close deals.

Product-Service Affinity

Sales professionals who believe in what they're selling are more likely to invest time in learning about the product or service, understanding its market positioning, and developing strategies that resonate with potential customers. This deep-seated interest often translates into more engaging and persuasive sales pitches, fostering trust and credibility with clients.

The Role of Belief in Persistence

Sales is a field riddled with rejection and setbacks. Salespeople who are passionate about their offerings are more resilient in the face of these challenges, viewing each setback as a learning opportunity rather than a defeat. This intrinsic motivation can be the difference between persevering through a tough sales cycle and giving up too soon.

Too often, when recruiting and vetting salespeople, their passion for the product/service is undervalued or overlooked. But, this often has an outsized impact on whether the person remains in their role and is producing results one or more years after hire.

Organizational Factors Contributing to Quota Misses

Unrealistic Quotas

Setting sales targets without a thorough understanding of market realities can set salespeople up for failure. Quotas that are not grounded in data or realistic expectations can demotivate even the most dedicated sales professionals.

Inadequate Training and Support

A lack of proper onboarding, ongoing training, and support from the organization can leave salespeople ill-equipped to effectively sell the product or service, regardless of their personal affinity for it.

Misalignment and Lack of Resources

When sales strategies or company cultures are not aligned with the salesperson's approach or when there is insufficient marketing & leadgen support, it can create barriers to success, undermining even those with a strong belief in their product.

Navigating the Dilemma: Solutions and Strategies

To address the quota conundrum, organizations and sales professionals alike must adopt a more holistic approach:

For Employers: Developing a more nuanced recruitment process that assesses not just a candidate's sales acumen but also their genuine interest in the product or service can lead to more aligned and motivated sales teams. Additionally, setting realistic quotas, providing comprehensive training, a mature/provden sales playbook, and ensuring adequate resources and support can empower sales professionals to meet and exceed their targets.

For Sales Professionals: Pursuing roles that align with one's passions and interests, and committing to continuous learning and resilience in the face of challenges, are crucial for long-term success in sales.

Outsourcing Sales: For companies facing persistent challenges in hiring and retaining passionate sales professionals, outsourcing to specialized independent sales contractors who demonstrate a genuine affinity for the product or service offers a viable path to growth.


The sales hiring dilemma, characterized by a significant proportion of hires failing to meet quotas, is a multifaceted issue that requires a nuanced understanding of both organizational practices and individual motivations. A shift towards valuing and nurturing genuine product-service affinity, alongside organizational support and realistic goal-setting, may hold the key to unlocking the potential of sales teams and achieving sustainable success in the competitive landscape of sales.