The Right People for Sales
There is a saying, mostly used in the world of athletics; “You can lose with great people but you cannot win without them.”  Clearly this theory applies to many competitive situations, not the least of which is business. As in athletics, winning in business starts with hiring the right people for sales and sales management.
Using the sports application as an example; The Chicago Cubs recently hired Theo Epstein away from the Boston Red Sox to be president of baseball operations. His first item of business?  Hire a new manager for the club.
A Major League Example
Below is an excerpt of a recent article about his process to attain the best manager.  Theo had made it clear that a most important criteria for the job was that each candidate have prior major league managerial or coaching experience.
A media person inquired what type of attributes Epstein was looking for in a manager, to which he replied “In the real world, it’s hard to find a candidate that has everything you’re looking for. 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.”
Early in the process, Ryne Sandberg’s name was being tossed around.  Below is his 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).
A Profile for the Position
His stats, while not listed, are excellent and his induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame speaks for itself.  However, he was missing a required ingredient–major league management or coaching experience. Thus he was never interviewed for the position of Chicago Cubs manager.
The point here is that Theo Epstein had a profile for the position and he stuck to it, regardless of the attractive star qualities of Sandberg.
The take-aways from this baseball analogy are for those who recruit the sales team:
• Know exactly what qualities the candidate must have,
• Communicate these qualities to likely candidates,
• Do not be swayed by experience ‘outside’ the profile,
• Consider other experience, but also consider the downside of other experience, and
• Be prepared for a ‘project’ if you hire outside the profile.
Finding the 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 to improve your probability for success:
1. Build a profile for the IDEAL Candidate,
2. Communicate that profile to attract the right candidate (in ads, etc),
3. Screen (assess) the candidate before interviewing him or her,
4. Create screening and interviewing processes that simulate the selling environment in which the salesperson or sales  manager will perform,
5. Make the candidate sell you. DO NOT sell the candidate on the position,
6. Have a detailed communication process in place so that once hired, the candidate will know the exact objectives and expectations,
7. Have a tight and detailed on–boarding- process that ALL candidates will follow regardless of experience level, and
8. Inspect what you expect for the first 180 days of a new hire’s employment.
Following these steps will improve your probability for recruiting and sales success.

About the author

Tony Cole

Tony has a lifelong focus on helping people and organizations achieve their personal best.As…

Online Courses

Learn anywhere, any time, on any device.


Learn Online

Self-paced courses from the
world's top sales experts

Virtual Training

Live, interactive instruction in small
groups with master trainers


One-to-one personalized coaching
focused on your unique situation