In each of the dialogues and in our ongoing conversations with clients, we always seek out leaders’ perspectives on what the professional of the future really looks like. Call them A+ Players. In this economy especially, it has become critically important to hire the best of the best. You must be rigorous and disciplined in assessing future team members to ensure the people you are recruiting truly fit and will help you carry the company into the future.
While many organizations have started to hire to specialize positions which fit function focused on three specific parts of a sales cycle – client recruitment, revenue optimization, and client retention – each is clear there is a future where we return to a full cycle sales representative who will be responsible for the entire client journey. What follows is the summary of all their thoughts that should make up the ideal candidate for the future of sales and many other roles you are seeking to fill near term.
Passion will Drive Peak Performance
You just cannot teach drive, and passion is continuously at the top of the list for almost everyone we talk to….It forms the basis of the favorite interview question always used by one of our recent podcast guests: “Passion, passion, passion,” says John Barrows, CEO of JBSales, who always asks potential hires, “What are you passionate about?”
We are all fond of saying past performance is the greatest positive predictor of future success. What may be even more true is to say that people will perform incredibly well when doing what they are most passionate about.
Peak Performers realize that to achieve maximum success demands their passion burns bright despite daily challenges. The true challenge is not finding passion, but rather aligning it to the job you hiring to and sustaining it. Do this, and you will increase your company’s performance, providing you countless opportunities to maximize success for the team and discovering new clients for our company.
If you wish to achieve peak performance,
- Plug into each individual’s passion, using it to fill their sails and fuel your sales
- Keep it aligned to your purpose and the call of your team, and
- Their belief will catapult you to success.
Evidence-based career studies point out employees who are passionate about what they do are both happier and more productive at work. Their passion stems from caring deeply about what they do or where they work. They are personally invested in and motivated by its mission. These actively engaged devotees achieve the greatest amount of efficient performance for their teams
Find those who absolutely must love what they do, and they must love building relationships around that. To network and connect with real intensity and even, dare we say, obsession, will ensure they are able to capture demand for your products and services.
Make Sure There is Relevant Competency
When it comes right down to it, a sales Process divides into three stages: the value proposition, covering the bases and closing work. Finding a sales professional who basically understands what they are saying is therefore pretty easy: scan the resumes for those with academic knowledge of biochemistry-related subjects and strong sales backgrounds. This could be from an academic perspective or from previous professional experiences.
Why? Because if the experience is from an academic perspective, many scientific fields pay scales can be found wanting, leaving the graduate looking for something more lucrative. If it from previous professional experience, then they will have the necessary credibility to progress quickly with your current customer base.
Do some salespeople do well with zero technical experience? Yes, but if you are looking for someone who can “hit the ground running”, then look for a good balance between sales acumen and technical expertise.
Find a Person Who Completes the Needs of the Team
In the ideal environment, salespeople are left to their own specialties (namely, selling the product) while at the same time feeling like a part of the team. While some will remain fiercely independent, you want them engaged. Since salespeople generally don’t need much handholding, seeing how they interact with the team beforehand to ask questions, uncover where potential revenue streams can be found, and gain clarity as to how they generally participate is vital.
The required hard skills should be evident, but what are some of the intangibles that a team member must bring to be great at the role you are hiring to…?
A top candidate will be flexible and adaptable and have demonstrated a high level of emotional intelligence and grit over their career (we will get to both later). You will want those that indicate they have deep intuition and intensity of focus to make a daily positive impact and display a willingness to closely collaborate with others.
Chris Walker of Refine Labs reminds it is perhaps most important to seek out those who remain constantly curious. For sustainable growth, the company and its employees must pick up innovative marketing skills and information over time — and they can only do that if they are genuinely interested in always discovering more about the industry, their customers and career path.
Curious team members don’t just focus on the task at hand. They venture outside their comfort zone, study up on industry trends, observe competitors, and often come up with the freshest or most unique ideas. Marketers with natural curiosity are always looking for new things to learn and new ways to improve. This makes them a valuable asset to any marketing team.
To discover this in an interview, pay attention to whether they Demonstrate curiosity by expressing interest in opportunities for growth and shifts in market dynamics. Seek out those who express a clear willingness to go above and beyond the job description and make it clear they are willing to learn innovative marketing skills and take on new responsibilities.
Define what an A-B-C player looks like within your organization and communicate throughout the ENTIRE company. State what having the right players on your team means to the success of your organization, and how the wrong players contribute to your detriment. Think in terms of $$$ and overall morale. Make it a part of your dialogue, both internally and externally. It must become a part of your culture, who you are and match your vision. If they cannot merge into and complement the team, then do not consider bringing them onboard.
A hire who sits in the corner and doesn’t want to be bothered is far from the ideal choice. Also, diversity matters, so make sure you are not hiring a sales team of your clones. Differences in background, experiences, relationships and education can only add to the quality of your team.
Find Someone Who Understands What It’s About
There are many talented “generalist salespeople” who are focused on the close. Since that’s the job of a salesperson anyway, learn what they know and feel about what you’re doing in Clinical, Molecular or Genetic Diagnostics. It’s a common dictum in Sales and Marketing that “everyone needs us, and we can go anywhere”. To the degree that’s true, what you need is a salesperson who believes in your organizational goals and will evangelize to everyone.
Plain and simple, those coming in each day to check a box, complete the tasks at hand and clock out, without inventiveness and curiosity, will not help your company thrive.
You should look for those that have a bit of a “limitless” attitude. Not over-confidence, arrogance or narcissism, but those that just aren’t afraid and genuinely thrive in taking calculated risks and venture, routinely, to the very edge of the proverbial envelope. If you are just standing still today, doing things in a monotonous fashion as you always have, you are actually moving backward.
Seek out those that do not know what cannot be done. These are the kind of contributors who will make sure you can accomplish anything.
Are they good people?
We spend a good portion of our waking hours at work, so being around people we believe in and enjoy is essential to making our work that much more effective and engaging. Without doubt, one of the greatest influences in our professional life is our core team. Our ability to perform, our effectiveness, our earning ability, and often our health, our peace of mind, our sense of wellbeing and contribution depend greatly on those we work with….. Our team impacts everything.
Todd Hartley of Wirebuzz made it clear “we all need less rocking of the boat and more rowing together as a team.” Those who have played team sports or who has a passion for camaraderie and esprit de corps should thrive in the dynamics we face today. You need those who can strengthen the core relationships, both inside and outside your company. This leads to increased levels of closeness, trust and enjoyment. A soft or weak set of core relationships undermines the team’s pace and is harmful to long term growth as you are forever operating from a position of diminished trust.”
When we work in an environment where we are challenged and supported by good people, we feel more alive and can accomplish more. Picture a workplace that reinforces the mindset you need, that equips and empowers you to drive the results you want, and routinely encourages you to take the necessary actions and display the behaviors to create great success.
In this environment, wouldn’t you feel you could do anything? Wouldn’t you build the confidence no force on earth could spoil or slow down?
It takes a team of likeminded, good people to create such esprit de corps.
Past Performance Predicts Future Success (?)
Most of those hiring still put this first on their list. It is essential you know they have “been there, done that”. Many hiring managers still like to see Brag Books, recommendations from others, AND now add social proof.
It has become essential those we hire in sales today have created a personal, professional brand that resonates with the clientele you will be seeking to access. You have to be able grab their attention, and someone who has intentionally built a well thought out social footprint is going to help your company and talent brand tremendously. Brynne Tillman of Social Sales Link indicates this should be something you can clearly tease out on LinkedIN by looking at the endorsements a potential hire has and what others may be saying about them or sharing with them.
We added the question mark in the header for this section as many are saying they are thinking beyond this measure today. Instead, they are seeking out real drive that indicates a future team member just might be limitless. In everything they do, we want to see professionals with big goals in mind – income goals, revenue goals, personal and professional achievement targets, etc. We expect they will have high expectations of themselves and their team.
Marcus Chan of Sales Ninja challenged us to look for those who will do whatever it takes, within the bounds of integrity, to make great things happen for the company, their clients, and, as an adjunct, themselves. The philosophy of “Do. There is not Try” (Yoda) has to be their mantra.
No matter, it still remains true you should measure this in some way, even if passion and drive may eclipse the longstanding metric. Especially in sales, closes are seen as victories or trophies (in some organizations people win trophies), and every salesperson will list off their trophy closes in their minds before you interview. Try to interview with a goal of finding how they filled the “win” column and how that matches your goals.
People who begin to ask quota questions with positive implications are usually confident in reaching them.
They must have a set of core values that aligns with yours
When describing how he hires, John Barrows of JBSales mentions his 12 personal guidelines to success. He always seeks in interviews to understand that a person has a core set of guiding principles and that they align with the company.
“If you and I have a similar set of values,…we can do some really special things,” he continues. Recognize, this is essential in our remote, work from home world. Those you hire must be noticeably clear about what drives and shapes them and have those things clearly baked into their daily work effort.
For about a decade before the crush of COVID, most major life sciences companies were once again getting serious about their mission, vision and value statements, amplifying them in their work. Just before the pandemic hit, however, we saw many letting those fade back into being mere plaques archived on a wall in the hall, without much relevance. Some were even proud of the fact that weren’t spending much time on these. Business was GOOD!
Interestingly, as we have talked with thought leaders over this season, almost everyone who shares with us their thoughts on hiring has begun with some form of the statement, “They must share our values.”
James Carbary of SweetFish Media makes it clear that being aligned in this way just means a team will be most efficient, as, at their core, there will not be a certain discord that creates unnecessary tension. We all have to be careful here, as it is clear, we also do not want to hire clones. Diversity, in both life experience and thinking, is essential in helping a company always grow and expand its capabilities, and in doing so, expand the base of clients it serves.
Still, great hiring requires clarity around the non-negotiable intangibles of core values. Host a day or half-day workshop with your team to decide these essential elements, and then routinely model and celebrate them.
They must be coachable
Chan shared with us, “At the end of the day, no matter how good they are, they can always take feedback whether it is from their sales leader or their customers. AND they can execute on the feedback.” Great hires are always willing to put the ego aside and be coachable no matter the circumstances!
To discover this, Barrows brought up a really interesting technique those of you hiring Sales Business Development Reps today might seriously consider. He asks for them to cold call him on what they sold before, give them feedback, ask them to do it again, and see if the direction is applied.
This takes the old “sell me this pen” to a new level, yet likely is a good exercise for some. Still, you do want to understand how they learn and have them indicate, throughout their interviews, they have a teachable spirit. Constant and continuous improvement, after all, will create continuous customer preference.
Just as many are minimizing experience as essential, most are holding this one thing in very high regard. Experience sometimes is not as essential as a willingness to be taught and to embrace new methods. Those who cannot adapt will be weeded out….
The wonderful thing about achieving excellence is that it is made possible in qualitative adjustments that lead to quantitative shifts into higher gears – pure grit and relentless drive. This means you need to focus on adding key talent then working on the quality of their processes, the shaping of a positive attitude, the creation of real expertise, image, and preeminent character, leadership and reputation. Focus on the qualitative and you will get quantitative.
No matter how you find them, you want those who continuously “sharpen the saw” then take action based on the attainment and correct use of knowledge. It is essential professionals learn and grow every day. They must also suck up ideas and latch onto the successes of others; then incorporate these things into their own daily wisdom.
Thinking Outside the Nine Dots
Imagination is the ability to see things not already there, to make the invisible visible, and to bring to life today the promise of what may one day exist. Not just the purview of creative types, like designers, architects, artists, marketers and performers, the leaders in any field recognize the importance of innovating. In their heads, there is a workshop where ideas and concepts are welded together and given form with words, metaphors and analogies.
Being Entrepreneurial and Inventive, while often data driven, is not an exact science. Therefore, look for those with the will and courage to routinely test new ideas and learn, both vertically and horizontally, from those experiments.
Such an Entrepreneurial spirit comes from an unwavering mindset that actively seeks out change, rather than waiting to adapt to change. It’s a thinking that embraces critical questioning, innovation, service and continuous improvement. According to Michael Kerr, an international business speaker, author and president of Humor at Work. “It’s being agile, never resting on your laurels, shaking off the cloak of complacency and seeking out new opportunities. It’s about taking ownership and pride in your organization.”
To have an entrepreneurial spirit requires you approach the dynamics in any market motivated and capable of taking things into your own hands. Seek out those with a more innovative approach to thinking about products or services, new directions to take the company in, or new ways of doing old things.
This usually means that a candidate should have exhibited strength in working within a budget and corporate guidelines where they still found inventive and imaginative ways of getting the job done. “This attitude can have amazing effects not only on profitability, but from an HR perspective can contribute to increases in employee satisfaction, retention, public image and productivity. Other HR effects can include reduced time to fill jobs, especially if the entrepreneurial spirit is used as a leverage point,” according to Jay Canchola, an independent human resources consultant.
Look for those that can expand your thinking and challenge the team to exceed what they believe to be their limits. You will be thankful you did.
Once goals are set and objectives established, challenges will show up….The common thread woven into most great lives is an ability to overcome adversity and use barriers and obstacles to success as instructional and motivational. Top talent will be able to demonstrate an unswerving devotion to the cause and professional persistence to achieve goals, not just despite the barriers, but sometimes because of them.
We tend to believe factors beyond our control play key roles in our success. Things like IQ, household incomes, family upbringing, fate, looks, bosses or the prestige of the school we’ve attended, etc. But in 2009, Angela Duckworth — a former middle school teach turned psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania — found these factors didn’t matter nearly as much as something she called “grit”.
Grit, as Duckworth describes it, is passion and relentless perseverance towards a very long-term goal. It’s the determination to continue working despite obstacles you face along the way.
She looked at education in New York’s worst schools, top performing sales teams, national spelling bee competitors and even West Point Military Cadets. She was looking to understand why the smartest were not at the top, and some of the less intelligent outperformed everyone; her data pointed out the best performers were always the grittiest.
BE CLEAR: hard work itself is not the distinguishing factor of grit. There are a lot of very hard workers that do not reach levels of preeminent success. So, what makes for good grit? Duckworth summed it up in three qualitative equations she actually quantified in her work:
TALENT + EFFORT = SKILL
SKILL + EFFORT = SUCCESS
PASSION + FOCUS = GRIT
The nitty gritty on becoming truly gritty is this: you must have an extremely specific focus on the goal that drives so much passion out of you that you are willing to give it the grind it will take to get there…. See your great future in front of you and pursue that future with relentless perseverance and passion.
Look for folks who are intensely focused and relentlessly driven. Find those who are gritty!
The cacophony of negative news around the Corona virus and racial tensions could make even the most positive among us wander into the dark corners of thought and stay there way too long. Yet, as in everything, you can choose to look on the bright side.
It is not surprise that almost everyone we have spoken with over the last few months has placed great emphasis on the power of positivity. Your whole approach to thriving, especially in crisis, will depend on whether positive or negative thinking dominates your corporate culture.
Shep Hyken, Chief Amazement Officer at Hyken.com, reminded us all that positivity can be a real superpower. It provides keys for unlocking your peak potential and making the most of the days, even in what is decidedly an exceedingly difficult situation.
We are all experiencing these same events together. We have no choice. Still, we do have choice in how we view them and the actions we take to deal with them, meaning we will all experience crisis in different ways. You want those who are taking this moment as an opportunity to consistently improve and learn new and innovative ways to respond. These are the team members that can help you build new enterprises and amplified Success.
Seek out those who embrace creative collaboration and will thrive in helping carry teammates and clients to new heights of connectedness. Recognize for many a sense of positivity can be achieved reliably only through intentional effort. Choosing to be response-able for shaping an optimistic view requires we make choices throughout the day with our values and goals front of mind, regardless of difficulties.
While this time may mean many are enduring lack of immediate success, others are taking it as an opportunity to consistently improve and learn new and innovative ways to respond. Some have spent this time lamenting the loss of their usual income, while others have created new enterprises and amplified motivational voices in such a way it is clear they are building a bright future.
In interviews, find those who thrive in helping carry teammates and community members to new heights.
You will also want to ensure their positivity is realistic and rational, so ensure they understand the balance between being visionary and upbeat while using facts through intentional effort. They should be response-able for shaping an optimistic viewpoint and have demonstrated choices throughout their career that clearly indicate they can endure.
The world remains full of possibility. Today, look for those who cultivate a climate of optimism, for yourself and others, and expect that great things will happen…then can make them happen.
Organized thinking and routines
Self-discipline is your daily fork in the road. An individual’s ability to understand it and enforce it, with rigor, consistently, will make a monumental difference in the performance of your team.
Bill Jensen of Simpler Work reminded us to seek out candidates who understand mastery of self leads to real freedom and will help fast track them toward peak performance. All success is attained, in large part, through the application of rigor.
Every goal your team is set to achieve and every dream you hope your organization will manifest all require the enforcement of self-discipline, self-control and self-awareness….or great personal rigor. This requires organized, or disciplined, thinking and a clear set of routines that can be adjusted when indicated.
Find those people who spend the first part of each day getting clarity around goals and establish corresponding activities detailing the individual tasks that will help exceed them. They must be SMART – Specific, measurable, attainable, results oriented and time bound.
Look for those with the right forward focus allowing them to avoid the unnecessary, minimize impulsivity and eliminate the time suck of the attention whirlwinds that circle around us all the time. The pathway to mediocrity – the one most traveled – is filled with people who give into the tyranny of the urgent versus having a long-term vision.
Organized think and rigor are the smartest, simplest and fastest ways to make life as easy and enjoyable as possible. Find those who in the power of your goal, embrace the importance of rigor, understand the result of real process is reaching the goal, and are confident anything is possible if the team builds skills and applies GRIT!
Game changers and GOATs
The one constant and dramatic force in our life is change. Everything is in the process of becoming something else. Change happens everywhere and with everyone, constantly. In our lives, change is the one constant that we can be absolutely sure of….So seek out those who live each day acknowledging this and initiating positive change on a regular basis,
There are three main factors directing change in our life: choice, chance and crisis. All three carry power and have their own particular dynamic. Of the three, favor choice. Choice allows everyone on the team to be proactive in orchestrating change, versus having undesirable transformation just happen. Initiating change through choice, will and practice is the path to constant and continuous improvement to create a better company and for the company to have positive impact on the world.
Search for those who embrace change as a constant reality and tool they can control, are vigilant in looking for changes that would help the team and others, and then are proactive in initiating them. In business, it is true no market stays the same year after year. You are either gaining share or losing share. You are either innovating new products and gaining on your competition, or your competition is innovating new products and supplanting you. You are becoming either more competitive or less competitive. You are either gaining customers or losing logos.
If things are going well, you may choose to make no changes and run your business exactly as you have in the past. The marketplace, however, is not static. Then world is ever changing. It is a constant system of development, improvement, degradation and adaptation.
By not initiating change, you may easily fall behind. We usually don’t make changes when things are going well, and that is often a problem. We must pay homage to the change agents; they demand change, and if we do not initiate change, life, competitors, compatriots and bosses will initiate it for us.
As to the GOATs – the greatest of all time – we all want the best of the best on our team. None of us think we are going to interview for mediocrity. We do not want pack players. But what really makes someone the best in class?
They care – they truly do care. They care about their prospects, their reputation, their brand, and all the people they work with to deliver their solution. To them, providing a mediocre product is unacceptable as it is their name on it!
A constant and caring concern for others has served many we know quite well over the years. Still, companies often rail at using this word “LOVE” at work. Interestingly enough, a previous podcast was with Sam Parker, a man who built a company and prominent career around the idea of Loving Your People, focuses on doing that very thing. Even the military, famous for being quite tough on its “employees”, has embraced his teaching.
Those who know how to focus on the goals others hope to achieve, aspirations they hold and can find solutions to problems others face are the key drivers of an attention economy – the kind of economy we now operate in….Search for team members who, at their core, want to elevate the work and performance of others, helping clients and teammates alike become better, faster and stronger each day.
We might add, find those who are incredible passionate about, or love, what they do. Work, especially preeminent work, is all about putting your whole heart and soul into everything; it is about having a passionate obsession with excellence and mastery; it is about loving your customers, making them happy, and keeping their very best interest at the forefront of your mind.
The kind of employee who clearly loves their work and the team they operate with will manifest that passion for performance in high intentions, uncompromising devotion, sincere effort, intelligent planning and design, attention to detail, and skillful execution.
Put simply, hiring those who love what they do, expressing your company’s core strengths, is the calling card of greatness and the one certain way to ensure your company makes a tremendous mark on the world.
You will want this in all of your leaders, especially. Gone are the days of hard driving, micro-managing autocrats. They may have temporary success, but their enduring stain on the performance of the team will rob everyone of genuine accountability.
Focused on amazing clients, Shep Hyken reminded us there will always be a demand for delivering commitment, sacrifice, discipline and focus to the team, along with a number of other performance demands. You must seek out those with the will to rise up and supply a much-needed asset and display a real passion for the mission they will infuse into the team.
The common core of all great teams is a profound awareness of the goals and an intense ownership of meeting and exceeding them. Hiring people that always take action to advance those goals, follow through on commitments and act as prudent stewards of corporate resources, to include time, is essential to sustained success.
Building a great future demands we hire those who are proactively managing themselves and their work effort. Seek out those who can make the greatest contribution to the team with the minimal amount of dire management. Then, while we expect they will develop themselves and embrace both self-reliance and initiative, spend time further enhancing their strengths to ensure they reach their Peak Potential.
“Accountability” is not a “bad” word in the mind of a top professional. They believe they have full ownership for their results and everything else. If they have a bad month, they don’t blame anyone else but themselves. No matter the result, no matter the circumstances, they always take full ownership and accountability and that is why they are successful.
There is only one reasonable measure of commitment to the team – total! Your staff must be all in; your future success will be based on their fulfillment of commitments to the team and your clients. Their ability to honor commitments directly impacts your brand credibility, reputation, and trustworthiness.
Every day, they must display an ability to make promises and deliver unwavering commitment to their colleagues and clients to fulfill them. This will lead to success; Nothing builds confidence, trust and loyalty as much as a history of well-kept promises.
Look at those brands with the greatest amount of success in any field. What they all have is a clear understanding all great accomplishment is preceded by great commitment. They simply Know the pain and momentary discomfort of today’s demands combine with unity and consistency of the team effort leads to the strength and success gained tomorrow. They know the commitment to fulfill promises is what guides them long after the initial excitement of a new goal has left. They have focused on building the demand for their services through constant improvement and strengthened corporate resolve.
High emotional intelligence is a big one – top professionals have a massive amount of social and self-awareness. They know how to change and modify how they carry themselves to increase trust with prospects and to gain and retain business. This is especially important in complex sales processes with multiple buying influences.
Greatness is determined by being deeply, emotionally committed and loving what you do. Being emotionally committed to a cause, project, or problem enables you to go to a place others are afraid to go, to try things others are unwilling to try, and to be the kind of person others are afraid to be.
The ones genuinely great by any reasonable measure have a real presence about them – a sense of power and conviction that transcends current circumstances or their position. Unlike most, they know who they really are, deep inside, what they were born to do, and why they truly exist. They recognize they are free to pursue their highest ideal once they have crafted certainty around their purpose. Remember, the one looking out the window is only a dreamer, while the one who searches deep inside awakens the giant within.
They must understand how to control the controllables
John Barrows closed our podcast with his EAT IT principles around ensuring you focus on what you really can control. It ends up being something we all should interview for, since, as leaders, I am sure we have all found ourselves talking people out of a tailspin where they have spent tons of energy on something they literally cannot affect, in any way.
His EAT acrostic is this: Effort, Attitude and Treat. We have already covered effort above, and a positive attitude, especially in times like these, is essential. The T is the old golden rule, and
At CERCA Talent+, we have worked in your field as both leaders and recruiters. We know the space and the people that will help you attain your important goals. We exist to ensure you achieve Peak Performance. It is our passion.
Contact our managing partner, Scott Rivers, today: firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will begin helping navigate the intricacies of hiring well and exceed expectations in the ever-evolving life sciences market.
Scott Rivers is the Managing Director of Cerca Talent+, a talent agency for the Oncology, Genetics and Life Science Industries. Scott’s recruiting experience extends into the areas of Diagnostics, Equipment and Device, Genomics and BioInformatics. His team manages recruitment for businesses focused on these areas in all roles.
As a leader who has worked at every level of commercial, medical sales and global marketing, Scott is an intense professional who partners with organizations to fine tune talent branding. If you are a leader looking to expand your team with professionals who are focused on delivering work in which they take pride, and you can be proud of, every day, then Scott would be privileged to help you in the process. Having been a professional in the fields where you focus, Scott knows the ins and outs of the companies, the business and the customers you are working to come alongside.