Basketball Zen and the Art of Hiring Your Next Sales Pro

BY Kathy Crosett
Featured image for “Basketball Zen and the Art of Hiring Your Next Sales Pro”

There’s nothing more nerve wracking than hiring a new salesperson to fit into your team. As we move through the finals of the pro basketball season, one of the writers at toplineleadership​.com reflected on the strategy Coach Jay Wright at Villanova uses to make his picks. Wright’s strategy, looking for humble and hungry, could work for you while you weigh the strengths and weaknesses of your top candidates.

We all know that a hungry candidate is one who is likely to hustle your product or service in a big way. He wants the recognition. She’ll go the extra mile and chase after a prospect to close the sale.

But being hungry is only part of what you need on your team. The humility part of the equation is also important and is all about being coachable. Many salespeople, especially those who’ve been around, have honed their skills and their pitch. They may even join your organization with a broad network that you want access to. Often, these people think they know everything. On the basketball court, they're apt to try to run their own plays. In business, they're going to run their own game.

This attitude won't work when it's time for this person to fit into your existing team. She has to play by your rules and the company’s rules. To become a part of the team, they have to accept direction, i.e. your coaching. To test a candidate’s reaction to being coached, you can put them into a role-​playing situation as suggested by Mark Roberge who wrote The Sales Acceleration Formula. After you run an initial sales-​call interaction with the candidate, discuss how it went and offer feedback as it pertains to the way your company handles these calls. Then run another role-​playing call and pay attention to whether your candidate tries to incorporate your suggestions.

If she does, you’ve likely got a keeper – someone who will add value to your team and be coachable.