We cannot tell you how many times we have spoken to business owners and managers who hire star athletes or other big men on campus who would seem to have everything it takes to sell, only to have them wilt under the pressure of professional sales. The managers cannot understand why a star middle linebacker or the president of a fraternity cannot muster the same skill sets to deliver as a salesperson. Here is the problem.
A president of a fraternity may have a wonderful, political set of skills. He may be charismatic, charming and eager for recognition and approval. Unfortunately, those are not the characteristics research shows to be necessary to succeed in sales. We are looking for Drive, not charm, and often it is not the president of the fraternity . . . it is the young man working in the fraternity kitchen, holding two jobs to pay for school and working until midnight on his homework. He may not come out of college with many fancy affiliations . . . he was too busy working toward his goals . . . that is often our man.
As for the middle linebacker, he must have had Drive to endure the training and hardship involved in that sport and position, right? Probably . . . but . . . he was probably also blesses with extraordinary speed and strength. He may have always been the biggest kid on his early teams, and success in sports may have been quite natural for him. But when he moves into sales, and gets his first taste of sustained rejection, he may not know how to handle it, and many star athletes move out of sales for that reason.
So be careful not to be wowed by a candidate’s surface resume. You need to dig deeper, much deeper, to get to the core of who the person really is and what the likelihood is that he will have the combination of innate and learned skills and characteristics to thrive in the toughest game of them all . . . selling for a living.
Dr. Christopher Croner and Richard Abraham are authors of Never Hire a Bad Salesperson Again and developers of the proprietary and patented sales test, The DriveTest™, for sales candidates. For more information, click here.