The other day I read that Forbes ranked Sales as the second most difficult profession to recruit . I just couldn’t wrap my head around it. I thought for sure technology would rank number one or number two. Imagine my surprise when I found out technology wasn’t number one, or two, or three, but number four!!! Not too far behind, but it seems that 90 percent of the recruiters I know are all in the tech space. That leaves a HUGE gap! Why aren’t there more sales recruiters? Why do people see it a difficult skill set to recruit? I guess it is because technology is more black and white. Either you have the skills or you don’t.
After further thought, maybe Forbes was right? I outlined in a blog last year 10 essential traits of effective sales people what it takes to be a successful. I’m going to take it a step further and talk about a sales person I hired who didn’t succeed.
Let me tell you the story of Baker Schneider (different name to protect identity). Baker came in my office in 2009 and he looked sharp! Shirt was pressed, tie was the right length, polished shoes, and he came highly referred. He got his Master’s degree from Baylor University and had the right presentation skills. He was articulate, had a great smile, and knew the market well. He was a natural. He hit it off with the staff immediatly and had the 10 traits you would look for in a salesperson. When I hired him I was sure he was the right fit. I was wrong. The hiring manager was wrong. The company was wrong.
You see, Baker had an amazing track record. He had succeeded at every company that he had ever worked. I saw his W2’s. I knew he would fit right in at my company. Where did it go wrong? Well, we should have done more research and a done a better job of asking HIM about what HE was looking for in a position.
Baker had been at his last company for 6 years. Making a change was a big deal to him. He knew how things worked at his last company. He knew all of the in’s and out’s and how to get things done. Companies had been escorting him heavily for the past couple of years and he was finally willing to listen.
“What was there to lose?’ thought Baker. Someone is going to pay him more money, and he is going to have a chance to do something different. You see, here is the problem. He really WASN’T ready. He and his manager really didn’t compliment each others skills. When Baker went out to sell, everyone was floored. His sales were some of the worst in the company. A rookie with NO sales experience in the industry was surpassing his quota numbers.
When you make a change, you have to be ready to make that change. You have to accept that things are done differently than at your old company. Your boss WILL be different. Different expectations will be placed upon you. YOU will have to learn the new in’s and out’s. A sharply dressed man with the right contacts will get you nowhere unless you embrace the changes.
Looking back on this experience, I could have done further personality testing. There isn’t a right or wrong answer, but everyone is good at something and not as good at other things. What you are looking for when you hire an employee is a match. A match much like a marriage; someone who compliments the other.
I could have asked specifically WHY he wanted to join OUR company and DO this job. I wanted it to work, I think he did too, but at the end of the day, he left after 6 months. He is still the best salesman I have ever hired that failed miserably.
You see, he did go back to his old company, and he is still the top producing sales representative at his company. I guess that is what Forbes meant by Sales being the second hardest profession to recruit. We have to do everything we can do as recruiters to do our due diligence on every level. People are people, and mistakes do get made, but this is the one that got away.