The Third Key in Sales Recruiting

Jun 2, 2016, Written by Jim Miley

Sales Recruiting

Call this the trilogy of sales recruiting fundamentals.  Our clients are often seeking help with recruiting and developing a sales team.  As business owners seek sales talent that matches their business culture and produces strong results, they need to identify key characteristics that distinguish the best prospects for hire.

Part one of the trilogy focused on the importance of Empathy as an key trait for effective sales performance.

Part two of this series on hiring sales talent ensures you are building a strong business team and avoiding a “mercenary army” where it’s every man for himself.

The third key to finding a good addition to your sales staff is finding a Healthy Competitor.

Find a Healthy Competitor

I have found this characteristic more complex than you might think.  A Healthy Competitor is far more than someone who is competitive.  People with intense competitive spirit are a dime a dozen and far too many may also be labeled as poor sports, sore losers or worse.

Simple competitive intensity in a prospective hire is not a good indicator of value to you as a business owner.  Consider Johnny Manziel, the now unemployed, former Heisman Trophy winner and first-round pick for the Cleveland Browns.  Clearly Johnny Football is a fierce competitor while also being an expensive and bad hire for the business of the Browns franchise.

You are looking for a Healthy Competitor.  An example such as Peyton Manning, Super-Bowl winning, all-time great, devout, humble, consummate team player.  It is very tempting to believe that the more bold, brash, flamboyant warrior will lead the team to victory or to higher sustainable business growth for our company.  Don’t fall to this temptation and risk suffering through the unintended consequences without very careful examination.

It is generally good policy to seek sustainable hires that adhere closely to our core values and desired culture.  Most of our clients espouse a culture of customer focused, collaborative and having ownership in positive results.  As such, recommending that clients recruit Empathetic, Team-Driven, Healthy Competitors doesn’t seem particularly insightful.

Oddly enough there is a temptation to recruit and make hiring decisions inconsistent with our desired business culture.  Presumably to reap what too often winds up as short term results… if we get any positive result.

Healthy Competitors are motivated to win; but not at any cost.  There is a chivalry within a Healthy Competitor that respects the competition and represents your business with integrity.  A Healthy Competitor raises the performance of the entire team and helps teammates that are struggling.  The entire organization benefits and performs better by having a Healthy Competitor in the ranks.

Sales Recruiting Fundamentals

So, the points of the sales recruiting fundamentals trilogy are pretty simple.  It’s important to identify the sales professional characteristics that match your long-term company strategy and culture.  I’ve boiled down the most impactful traits from both my personal management experience and that of my clients.

  • Evaluate for strong Empathy in your sales recruits.
  • Look for those motivated as Team Players over lone wolves.
  • Hire Healthy Competitors over sore losers.

While I can’t impart 25 years of sales management experience in three simple posts, I can proclaim with confidence that a sales team demonstrating these characteristics is very likely to drive a healthy business and positive culture for the entire organization over time.

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Jim Miley

As a Business Coach, Jim brings a broad background of operational and sales management skills and expertise to help small business owners grow their business and reach their highest potential. He has 30 years of field-proven professional experience.