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In this Attention Economy, Should You Hire for Technical or Sales Skills First?

In this Attention Economy, Should You Hire for Technical or Sales Skills First?

The question plaguing many hiring managers today — not just in the Clinical Research and the Genomics and Genetics Diagnostics spaces, but indeed in all businesses — is:  “Should we hire a candidate with technical expertise and train them in becoming a great sales person; or, should we hire a candidate with a strong sales background and train them in technical and product knowledge?

Making a hiring decision to address all the needs of your business takes forethought, patience and insight. You may find yourself asking whether you should focus more on sales or technical experience throughout the process, but the truth is, both are integral to success, with a new wrinkle.

In fact, research shows that sales experience is more important long term, while technical expertise is more important short term. Let’s go into more detail.

Sales is Somewhat Innate

Some say truly good sales people are harder to find than those with technical expertise, being that the ability to sell comes more naturally to those with certain innate traits that cannot really be taught as readily as technical proficiency. Many can learn about a process, product, service or idea, but if you are not able sell that same process, product, service or idea to the public, you are dead in the water. That’s why many believe sales experience is a better long-term characteristic than its technical compliment.

Technical Talent is Special

Technical problem solvers are always doing just that: solving problems. That’s what they do. They work with things, while natural sales people work with other people.

Those skilled more on the technical end of things can sit in a room, put pen to paper, and figure out how to solve your company’s problems, how to bring a product to market, how to get by stumbling blocks in the research or production process. However, you need someone out there on the front lines (even if those front lines are digital and remote today): 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 – and especially as a lone, independent operator.

After all, what is sales but a series of repeated attempts to find success? Personal motivation, persistence, self-confidence, people skills…these are all critical pieces to the sales puzzle.

The sales person’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 sales people should be in the sharing business, not the convincing business. As such, naturally talented sales people will help the customer make a purchase decision, moving them confidently through a buyers journey to help them find a solution, not solve a problem for them.

Tie Technical Know How to Sales Proficiency

Now, before you leave thinking technical proficiency is just an after thought and shouldn’t be a factor in the hiring decision, it’s still important. Just because a candidate is skilled in sales aptitude doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have knowledge of the core competency at hand. By hiring someone with a basic knowledge of the technical aspects of your Clinical Research, Molecular Diagnostics, Genomics or Genetics business, you are using that as a foundation on which to grow their skills through ongoing training. Technical know how combined with sales prowess makes it all come together so well.

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 to build upon. When interviewing, remember to look at past sales performance and solid rankings, as this is generally the best predictor of future success.

Entrepreneurial and Inventive

Selling in this attention economy, while somewhat technical and 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, and do so through social and digital selling.

Beyond technical and sales excellence, seek our the entrepreneurial spirit derived from an unwavering mindset that actively searches for and creates 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.

Conclusion

At Cerca, we are professionals working with professionals to fine tune talent branding.  If you are a leader looking to expand your team with professionals who are bring both technical and sales expertise to bear, with a little entrepreneurial spirit thrown in, 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 we serve.

Partner with the group that can talk shop and gain rapport with the pros who will lead your business into the future. Let’s figure out what is going to help you in your quest to select those “A” players that will provide you a 10X return on your money. Just email me today at srivers@cercatalent.com, and we will begin the process of connecting you to technical sales professionals with a great personal brand who will help you achieve Peak Performance.

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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.

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Cerca Talent+ is a full-service Executive Search Firm with a strategic focus in the areas of Clinical Diagnostics, Molecular Diagnostics and Oncology, Genomic and Genetic Medicine. Our clients choose 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.

We Provide Top Talent to create Peak Performance. 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 srivers@cercatalent.com, or call direct at 201-594-2101, and we will begin the process of finding you Top Talent guaranteed to help you set records.

 

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Scott Rivers
Helping clients acquire top talent for peak performance in the fields of Oncology, Genetics, Diagnostics and Life Sciences. Strategic Focus on Commercial and Board Level Positions
“𝙎𝙝𝙤𝙪𝙡𝙙 𝙬𝙚 𝙝𝙞𝙧𝙚 𝙖 𝙘𝙖𝙣𝙙𝙞𝙙𝙖𝙩𝙚 𝙬𝙞𝙩𝙝 𝙩𝙚𝙘𝙝𝙣𝙞𝙘𝙖𝙡 𝙚𝙭𝙥𝙚𝙧𝙩𝙞𝙨𝙚 𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙩𝙧𝙖𝙞𝙣 𝙩𝙝𝙚𝙢 𝙞𝙣 𝙗𝙚𝙘𝙤𝙢𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙖 𝙜𝙧𝙚𝙖𝙩 𝙨𝙖𝙡𝙚𝙨 𝙥𝙚𝙧𝙨𝙤𝙣; 𝙤𝙧, 𝙨𝙝𝙤𝙪𝙡𝙙 𝙬𝙚 𝙝𝙞𝙧𝙚 𝙖 𝙘𝙖𝙣𝙙𝙞𝙙𝙖𝙩𝙚 𝙬𝙞𝙩𝙝 𝙖 𝙨𝙩𝙧𝙤𝙣𝙜 𝙨𝙖𝙡𝙚𝙨 𝙗𝙖𝙘𝙠𝙜𝙧𝙤𝙪𝙣𝙙 𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙩𝙧𝙖𝙞𝙣 𝙩𝙝𝙚𝙢 𝙞𝙣 𝙩𝙚𝙘𝙝𝙣𝙞𝙘𝙖𝙡 𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙥𝙧𝙤𝙙𝙪𝙘𝙩 𝙠𝙣𝙤𝙬𝙡𝙚𝙙𝙜𝙚?” This question is plaguing many hiring managers — not just in the Clinical Research and the Genomics and Genetics Diagnostics spaces, but indeed in all businesses. Making a hiring decision to address all the needs of your business takes forethought, patience and insight, especially in an attention economy. You may find yourself asking whether you should focus more on sales or technical experience throughout the process. Some say truly good sales people are harder to find than those with technical expertise, being that the ability to sell comes more naturally to those with certain innate traits that cannot really be taught as readily as technical proficiency. In fact, research shows that sales experience is more important long term, while technical expertise is more important short term. But the truth is, both are integral to success over the life of your company. Let’s go into more detail.
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