Dave Kurlan is a top-rated speaker, best-selling author, sales thought leader and highly regarded sales leadership expert.
The NY Times posted a story on June 20 about Google, their recruiting efforts, and big data. The story really doesn't reveal that much, but there is an interesting quote (that I will get to shortly) that is relevent to hiring salespeople. When we help companies get the sales selection piece right, there are several components that we tweak. We help them get the following things right:
- Sequence of Steps
- The Posting - The entire sales recruiting process is only as good as its weakest link. Most companies get the posting completely wrong and get wrong candidates into the candidate pool. Then, what happens after this step is applied to the wrong candidates!
- Sourcing - see my explanation for #2
- Applicant Tracking
- Sales Candidate Assessment - There are two keys to this piece. The first is the use of the right assessment. The second is that the assessment be used this early in the process to disqualify all candidates who will not succeed in the particular role, at your company, calling into your marketplace, and your ideal decision-maker, against your competition, with your price points, and particular challenges.
- Short Phone Interview - Make sure that recommended candidates have the right experiences and sound good.
- Face-to-Face or Video Interview - Challenge the candidate and make sure they own what is on their resume as opposed to them being the author of a piece of fiction.
- Final Interview - Sell the opportunity.
It typically takes a day or two to help clients integrate and apply this process to their business. Clients love it because it not only results in consistently hiring much better sales talent, but it saves a tremendous amount of time and money too. The value of getting it right? Priceless.
Clients usually agree with all of the above. One part, that they often disagree with, is that too many clients require that their salespeople have a college degree and that's where the NY Times and Google article comes in. I don't have anything against college graduates, but I have never seen a correlation between higher education and sales success. While many successful salespeople have college degrees, salespeople don't succeed because of their education. We learn from the NY Times article that Google has not seen any correlation between education and success at Google, arguing that success in school requires a different set of skills.
I was not a particularly good student and did not finish college. Most of the skills I have needed to write, type, speak, communicate, persuade and sell, research, manage, lead, use technology, build, create, opine, listen, question, and think outside the box; to stand-out and be analytical, practical, memorable, animated, dynamic, entrepreneurial and entertaining, to talk the language of business and CEO's, are not things that were taught in college. I learned most of what I needed to know in high-school, from books, coaches and mentors, and mostly, on the street by taking risks, trial-and-error and early on, making mostly errors.
In my not so humble opinion, if you want to put an educational requirement on sales candidates, it should be that they are street-smart rather than degreed. Here are two exaggerated examples:
- Educated - "Where is the documentation for this? Show me where to go for that? How does this information apply? I'll need some time to learn and assimilate this. I should be ready to begin visiting customers, to learn about them, next month. When I understand a little more about why they buy from us, I'll start to make some business development calls."
- Street Smart - "Thanks. I'll figure it out. When can I start selling?"
This is truly a no-brainer. Which salesperson would you prefer to be on boarding right now?
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