Choosing Between Sales Skills and Technical Talent with Confidence

Choosing Between Sales Skills and Technical Talent with Confidence

Making a hiring decision that addresses all the needs of your business and demands of the role takes forethought, patience, planning and insight. As you find yourself even more deeply concerned today about making the very best hiring decision for the future of your company, looking to emerge stronger from the COVID crisis than before, you may be considering whether you should focus more on sales or technical experience throughout the recruitment process.

Truth is, both are integral to success. In fact, research shows, while sales experience is more important long term, technical expertise is more important short term. Let’s go into more detail.

The question plaguing many hiring managers — not just in the Genomics, Genetics, Molecular, Clinical Research and Diagnostics spaces — but indeed in all businesses, is:

  • Should you hire a candidate with technical expertise and train them in becoming a great salesperson, or…
  • Should you hire a candidate with a strong sales background and train them in technical and product knowledge?

The ideal salesperson in the highly complex medical sales arena possesses great sales science and top-tier technical acumen. Yet, these professionals are often so hard to find an even harder to attract. Faced with the choice, which way do you lean?

Some say truly good salespeople are harder to find than those with technical expertise, being that the ability to sell is often an innate trait one can’t really train to as readily and aptly as technical proficiency. Most can learn about a process, product, service or idea, but if you can’t sell that same process, product, service or idea to the public, matching the message to what you are marketing, you’re dead in the water. That’s why many believe sales experience is a better, more essential strength, long-term, than its technical counterpart.

Technical experts are problem solvers, always doing just that: finding solutions. That’s what they do. They often prefer to work with things, while those possessing a deep sales science work with people. Those skilled more on the technical end of things can sit in a room or stand at a bench, put pen to paper, and figure out how to solve your company’s and client’s problems, how to bring a product to market, how to get by stumbling blocks in the research, operations or production process.

However, when you need someone out there on the front lines — someone who can handle the chaos and complexity of the daily grind with the fortitude to fail and get back up again, even in the face of rejection — you need a sales professional. After all, what is sales but a series of repeated attempts to find success in the face of stiff competition and some adversity? Personal motivation, persistence, resilience, self-confidence, people skills…these are all critical pieces to the technical sales puzzle.

The salesperson’s role in the process is to present a product or service in a clear, concise and truthful manner yet with integrity, says Forbes, and salespeople should be in the sharing business, not the convincing business. As such, naturally talented salespeople will help the customer make a purchase decision, not make it for them. They will guide them down a buyer’s journey by focusing on their needs and persuading them through involvement, not just through technical know how.

Now, before you leave thinking our idea is that technical proficiency is just an after thought and shouldn’t be a factor in the hiring decision, it’s still critically important. Just because a candidate is skilled in sales aptitude doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have knowledge of the core competency at stake. By hiring someone with a good working knowledge of the technical aspects of your Clinical Genomics, Molecular or Clinical Diagnostics business, you are using that as a foundation on which to grow their skills through ongoing training. Sales science mixed with great technical training and thoughtful messaging makes it all work.

Finding that strong sales talent with at least a basic knowledge of the technical aspects of your industry or products will generally provide you with the best foundation upon which to build. When interviewing, remember to take a discerning look at past sales performance and measured, solid rankings in relevant work history — these are generally the best predictors of future success.

At Cerca Talent+, we are professionals working with professionals to fine tune talent branding. If you are a leader looking to expand your team with well rounded professionals who are focused on delivering work in which they take pride, and you can be proud of, ever day, then we would be privileged to help you in the process. Having been pros ourselves in the fields where we focus, we know the ins and outs of the companies, the business and the customers.

If you are an enterprise looking to add to your team the kind of talent with the perfect mix of technical acumen and sales excellence, we can help. Get started today by reaching out to Scott Rivers at


Scott Rivers is the Managing Director of Cerca Talent+, a talent agency for the Diagnostic and Life Science Industries. Scott’s recruiting experience extends into the areas of Diagnostics, Life Sciences, Oncology and Genetics. His team manages recruitment for all levels within the commercial area of these businesses.

As a leader who has worked at all levels of commercial, medical sales and global marketing, Scott is an intense professional who works 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, ever 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.


Cerca Talent+ is a full-service Executive Search Firm with a strategic focus in the the areas of Clinical Diagnostics, Molecular Diagnostics and Oncology, Genomic and Genetic Medicine. Our clients choose to work with Cerca because of our deep understanding of the industries we serve. They continue to work with us based on our extensive market knowledge, vast connections and quality of results.

That’s a good match for any company. Partner with the group that can talk shop and gain rapport with the pros who will lead your business into the future. Email Scott Rivers today at, or call direct at 201-594-2101, and we will begin the process of finding you Allstars that help you set records.