Hiring for Excellence
Photo by Faye Cornish on Unsplash
One of my favorite all-time sales hires was Chris. When I first met Chris, he didn't have much experience. He didn't know our industry. He didn't understand our product. There were many reasons not to hire Chris.
But I hired him anyway. Why? Chris had performed at a very high level. In his case, he was an All-American college athlete. And Chris knocked it out of the park for our company, quickly becoming one of our top performing reps.
I've written before on factors to consider when hiring for sales positions. One of those factors is what I think of as "excellence:" a demonstrated ability to be very successful in some area of life.
A lot has been stated about why athletes make great sales people (try a quick Google search). The playing field is one area where success is measurable. But it's not the only one.
I've hired musicians. Academics. Hobbyists. Artists. Writers. Programmers. Gamers. All have done well. In sales roles and other positions (customer success, marketing, technology, services, etc.).
What I've found is a pattern of aspiration, drive, discipline, and confidence. Of course, there are other factors to consider when hiring. But these traits of excellence have been meaningful in my experience. Specifically:
* Aspiration: in order to flourish, you need to have a vision for something big. You see success. And want it.
* Drive: your vision needs to be coupled with the energy and grit to pursue it. You generally have the intrinsic passion to go for it.
* Discipline: high-level success comes from commitment. The day-to-day discipline to stay with something, see it through, and overcome obstacles along the way.
* Confidence: whether an enabler or an outcome, confidence is important to fuel ongoing success. True confidence (which feels different from arrogance) can be inspiring and cascading, making others around you better.
So, as you're looking to make your next hire, consider asking yourself: has this person been great at something? Why were they great? How much did it matter to them? Do they want to be great at this job too?
If you can find someone who has been excellent before, and who fits other criteria for your company and role, there's a good chance that they'll be excellent again—for you.
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Steve Semelsberger is the Founder of Alder Growth Partners.