Use a Little Patience At The Plate To Improve Your Sales Hiring
Think back to your Little League days in softball or baseball. Among all the tactical wisdom you received from the various baseball dads who coached your team was this important nugget: Never swing at the first pitch.
The idea was that you could learn something about the tendencies and capabilities of the pitcher you faced if you sat with the bat on your shoulder and watched the first pitch cross the plate.
If you listen to radio or TV broadcasts of baseball, you’ll often hear the color commentator talk about a batter in a slightly condescending manner, describing him as “a first pitch hitter.” The implication is that the batter is being unwise by not being patient and not “working the count” until the pitcher throws a better pitch to hit.
You could fill a book arguing about whether the accepted wisdom of not swinging on a 0-0 count is a good strategy. But, there is no argument that ‘never swing at the first pitch’ is a gold standard you should integrate into your sales hiring process.
I’ve seen too many hiring managers, who lack confidence in their ability to effectively evaluate sales talent, and follow the path of least resistance in interviewing and assessing sales candidates.
They typically default to one of the following three standards for hiring:
#1: The Love at First Sight Standard: This hiring manager finds the process of hiring a salesperson so uncomfortable that he or she hires the first minimally acceptable warm body that walks through the door for an interview. In this instance, the outcome is sadly predictable.
#2: The Armani Suit Standard: This hiring manager has only a generic, formulaic, motherhood and apple pie description of the skill set his company is looking for in a salesperson. Instead of hiring experience and expertise directly related to the products his or her company sells, this hiring manager values style over substance and hires sales professionals who dress well and present themselves with an extra helping of self-confidence. (And, of course, the hiring manager is later left to wonder why these people never worked out when they looked so “qualified” on paper and in person).
#3: The Interchangeable Cog Standard: This hiring manager harbors a range of emotions from slight ambivalence to outright hostility to the idea of hiring a salesperson. He or she reluctantly agrees that sales people are a necessary evil, but is so risk averse and appalled at the idea of making a mistake, and paying good money to someone who might never produce, that no one ever is good enough to fit his or her expectations. As a result, the process drags on too long and and the hiring manager relents by choosing a candidate at random on their belief that one salesperson is the pretty much the same as all others.
Identifying and qualifying the best sales candidate (that’s right, you have to qualify sales candidates just like salespeople qualify prospects) who can do the job you need done and integrate smoothly into your sales team should be the goal of your hiring efforts.
CLICK HERE to read Part 2 of this article and I’ll give you 5 easy steps you should take to improve the effectiveness of your sales hiring process.