To hire the right candidate, you should avoid ‘Numbers Myopia’

One of the things I often do is to look at job ads, specifically those related to salespeople: it’s not one of my hobbies, but it’s something I enjoy and it’s also educational.

Looking at these allows me to know more about the market (national and international), my country, the type of roles sought-after, the characteristics they should have and the perception companies have of salespeople.


Let’s start from this so we can delve into a topic that is not often considered, something I name ‘Numbers Myopia’.

Let’s start with an example: if you search on any job site you’ll find that most of the time one of the characteristics sought is the quota achieved, perhaps for a certain number of years in a row.

In some cases the achievement of certain titles (such as President’s Club or similar) is also a prerequisite.


Now, there’s nothing wrong with this: I also use the quotas achieved as a business card and it often helps, but the error is to give too much importance to these numbers.

In other words, the problem arises when the numbers drown out our vision and don’t let us look at everything else: the result is that, just like myopia, we just focus on what’s nearby but we see everything else in a blurred and distorted way.

The reality is that a sales performance should be contextualised in order to be judged appropriately – in fact, it is necessary to take into account the solutions sold and, for example:

  • the historical and social time the salesperson works in;
  • the conditions of the market;
  • the maturity of the market
  • and, above all, the level of support offered her during that time.

Taking these variables into account shifts the concept of effectiveness from the quota to the market: the effective salesperson won’t be the one who has achieved the highest numbers but the one who (considering these variables) achieved the best possible result.

According to this the next time you’ll hire a salesperson, don’t get distracted by the ‘Numbers Myopia’ but ask yourself and herself:

  • What historical/social period was she working in?
  • What were the conditions of the target market?
  • How mature was the target market?
  • How much support was offered her throughout this time?

These (and other) questions will help you better contextualise her performance and look beyond.

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