There is a saying in sports; “You can lose with great people but you cannot win without them.” This theory applies to business, and winning in business starts with a winning sales team.
Let’s return to the sports application first. Theo Epstein was the general manager for the Boston Red Sox. The Chicago Cubs hired him away from the Red Sox and his first item of business to address is the hiring of a new manager for the club.
Below is an excerpt of a recent article about the process he is going through to get the right person for the job. Earlier in the week, he had made it clear that one of most important criteria for the job was that the candidate MUST HAVE major league managerial or coaching experience.One media person inquired what type of attributes Epstein is looking for in a manager.
"In the real world, it's hard to find a candidate that has everything you're looking for," Epstein said. "What you do is you weigh your variables and make your sacrifices where you have to. Often times, if you're going to take a candidate without previous managerial experience, even at the minor league level, he has to represent real upside in other areas. In that case, you have to do even more due diligence than you normally would because you're projecting him into that role."
One of the talked about candidates early in the selection process was Ryne Sandberg. Below is his stellar baseball resume.
Ryne Dee Sandberg (Ryno)
Positions: Second Baseman and Third Baseman
Bats: Right, Throws: Right
Height: 6' 1", Weight: 175 lb.
Born: September 18, 1959 in Spokane, WA (Age 52)
High School: North Central (Spokane, WA)
Drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies in the 20th round of the 1978 amateur draft.
Signed June 15, 1978. (All Transactions)
Debut: September 2, 1981
Teams (by GP): Cubs/Phillies 1981-1997
Final Game: September 28, 1997
Inducted into the Hall of Fame by BBWAA as Player in 2005 (393/516 ballots).
I won't list his stats - induction into the baseball players Hall of Fame speaks for itself. The one thing that is missing is managerial or coaching experience at the major league level. He was never interviewed for the position.
The point here is that Epstein had a profile for the position and he stuck with it, regardless of the star qualities of Sandberg.
The lessons in this story for senior sales executives include:
- You must know exactly what qualities the candidate must have
- You must communicate this to likely candidates
- You must not be swayed by other experience "outside" your profile
- You can consider other experience but consider the downside
- You must be prepared for a "project" if you hire outside your profile
Finding the exact right candidate is a long shot no matter what the position. As Epstein points out, you have to weigh all the information and consider what you are willing to sacrifice. As you prepare to "upgrade your sales staff", follow these steps for Sales Talent Acquisition and improve your probability for success:
- Build a profile for the IDEAL Candidate
- Communicate that profile to "attract" the right candidate (in ads, etc)
- Screen (assess) the candidate before interviewing the candidate
- Create screening and interviewing processes that simulate the environment in which the candidate will have to perform
- Make the candidate sell you, DO NOT sell the candidate on the position
- Have a detailed communication process in place so that once hired, the candidate knows "exactly" what the objectives and expectations are.
- Have a very tight and detailed on - boarding process that ALL candidates go through regardless of their experience.
- Inspect what you expect for the first 180 days of their employment
Following these steps will improve your probability for recruiting and sales success. To help you begin, try this Free 3 Day Express Screen Trial (select the "Sales Candidate" option).