If someone has been in sales for at least two minutes they are fully prepared for their next interview – but not necessarily for their next job. They spent their first minute learning features and benefits. They spent every other minute being told how to be successful. “You need to actively prospect and keep your pipeline filled. You need to listen to your clients. You need to have a strong work ethic, ask good probing questions and sell value.” They may not have followed those instructions, but they can sure recite them. They may not be a perfect seller at their current company, but to you, they seem the perfect hire for your opening.
If we are honest with ourselves, very few leaders love to interview. Our time seems better spent driving revenue, motivating our team. That is our preferred role. It is far easier to lament on a poor hiring decision than to actively prevent our next one. Having managed through other pandemic like crises and significant changes (truth be told, none of us have been through anything like 2020) I have learned the importance of those first several months coming out of the crisis. This is when our teams will be the most tested. This is when we will see the biggest gaps in talent and productivity. The next several months will be filled with losing key talent and watching B level talent struggle.
It will also be a crucial time to replace talent and motivate your team. You may find a larger pool of candidates than ever before. You may find several that appear perfect. They will possess a strong resume. “Why are they leaving their current employ?” They will have a very plausible answer. They will know all the right things to say. What they will not tell you is that they really struggled in 2020. They will not tell you that when things got turned upside down, they failed to adjust to the new normal. They are not on their way to being great in 2021.
As a VP of Sales for Clipper Magazine I had interviewed and hired hundreds of sales executives and managers over 28 years. Interviews conducted after 9/11, after the 2008 recession, and during the years when print was supposedly dying. I learned the hard way how to look past the perfect candidate. I needed to find the candidate that would be successful in whatever situation our company was facing today. I needed the candidate that would be a perfect fit for my team at that time. This is what you need today. As a business leader these next few hires may be the most significant you make for your organization.
So, start by assessing your current talent. Performing a talent audit today will help you discover probable changes to the type of talent you should be looking for. Has the job description changed for your current team? Which candidates now best fit this new role. Review your benchmarks for success to confirm which behaviors, experiences, and development you need to focus on. Are those on your team best equipped for networking and virtual lead gen prospering? Finding a perfect square peg candidate will not help you if your current needed role is a circle.
Next perform a Job Study. Examine the roles everyone on your team is best suited for. Before you add to your team, determine if there may be better ways to get the most out of those you already have. Your team may need another “hunter” or two. Possibly, you have enough hunters, but increasing the level of support they have may provide the extra time they need to be more productive. Your post pandemic process may need your more experienced and stronger sellers with time to generate more new business.
Finally, increase your recruitment efforts. Coordinate your entire team in a concerted effort to find and help recruit some top talent. Instead of only interviewing the candidates that have decided to seek you out, your actual perfect candidate may simply need a slight nudge in your direction.
To find a perfect candidate today, you will need to delve a little deeper than before. You will need to accept this role or find someone you truly trust to handle it for you. Look into the various tools and assessments available. A wrong hire will cost you- in lost time, lost revenue, and lost training efforts. Conversely, the right hire will produce a significant return on your investment. Make the right choice. Beware what seems to be the perfect candidate.