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The Center for Sales Strategy Blog

Know Your Talent "Must-Haves"

talent bankSCENARIO:

Your top-performing, seasoned seller just turned in their notice. You are prepared because you were diligent and have a full talent bank with well-qualified candidates. But even with all of this prep, you realize how overwhelming the task of examining the candidates in your talent bank can be.

Where do you start? The job title is the same, but the challenge is different each time.


ID The Important Components of The Role

Before embarking on your search or selection process, it's important that you consider what's particularly unique about this specific opening and identify the following components of the role: 

  • Required vs. Desired Talents
  • Developed vs. Trainable Skills
  • Mandatory vs. Preferred Experience

Pinpointing these things prior to your search will help you think in terms of talent, skills, and experience - all important components of the hiring process - so you aren't overwhelmed and don't get swayed by other factors (or shiny resumes) when sifting through your talent bank.

Start at Square One

There are many directions that this scenario could go, but for a sales manager looking to take the right path and ensure they hire the best fit for their team and company, they need to start at square one by focusing on talent, skills, and experience. All three matter to sales performance and success. Managers can train someone to improve their skills and give them great experience, but you can't change talent. Because you can't change talent, you’ve got to get it right the first time.

So, how do you start this identification process? Glad you asked. We recommend a Job Analysis and Specification Worksheet, which includes questions and prompts that help to specify each of these areas. Once this is complete, managers can take this information and share it with anyone involved in the interviewing and/or hiring process for that position.

Avoid or Don't Avoid? That Is The Question.

When managers start this process by examining the available position, it helps to determine the top talents that are necessary for someone to be successful in this role, and then the candidate qualification process becomes easier because you know exactly what you need. Sometimes, this isn’t an easy process because top performers tend to be strong in a lot of talents. But by using the worksheet as step one of your qualification process, it help you answer the question, "What are your 'must-haves'?" Are you searching for a new business developer? A hunter? 

What's necessary for the role you are filling?

  • Are they just qualifying leads, setting first appointments and handing the client off, or are they are taking the sale from start to finish? 
  • Are they going to build this business into key accounts that stay with them, or handing off to an account manager? 

The answers to these questions, along with the information discovered on the worksheet, will help identify top, non-negotiable talents. For example, "hunters" need to be high achievers, competitive, positive, and strong at starting the sales process as well as strong in the close. And that person who is going to manage the sale from start to finish and nurture the relationship? People skills need to be added to that list along with the ability to build trust and be a creative problem solver.

Another good source of information can come from just stopping for a minute to think about your current staff as well as the top performer that is leaving. What talents do they have that make them excel in their roles? Also, consider your personality and management style. Are there traits in your direct reports that you especially value like responsibility, or that you struggle with like a lack of discipline? All of this information is valuable to determine your 'must-haves' in the search for the best candidate. 

I regularly hear managers say, “If I had ten of her, my team would be amazing!" Most managers have "that person" on their team, or a past team member, they wish they could clone. Well, what makes that top person great?

Before you embark on your search and selection process, take time to consider what's particularly unique about this specific opening and identify the following components of the role as it relates to talent, skills, and experience. If you start the process knowing what talents you need, and what weaknesses you need to avoid, suddenly the job of qualifying candidates becomes easier because you have focused direction and you won't be distracted by things unnecessary to filling your open position.

The Talent Bank Worksheet

Topics: Talent sales management hiring salespeople