What Almost Every Sales Leader Screws Up in Hiring

How confident would you be picking your next sales person or sales leader without their resume. You couldn’t look at their work history at all, no LinkedIn, nothing. All you could do was interview them. Would you feel more confident or less confident in your hiring decision. Could you pick a winner without seeing their work history? What would you rely on? What would you be looking for? How would you evaluate the person?

How would you go about this process?

Being able to identify a strong candidate without access to their resume requires the ability to identify talent. You need to be able identify talent without a glimpse into work history or industry knowledge. Unfortunately  this is one area most sales leaders and leaders in general screw up most. They lack the ability to identify talent. Yes, “TALENT.” Talent cannot be found in a resume or on LinkedIn. Talent is found in the candidate, and how they do their work. We have become so dependent on work experience and industry knowledge, few leaders even look for talent. Too much time is spent on the resume and work history. Yet talent is the foundation, the engine behind those who are most successful.

In all my years, I have never seen a talent evaluation process as part of the hiring process. I rarely even hear the word talent used, unless it’s in regards to a new, fresh, up-start sales person with no work history. Talent identification is a lost art.

Do you evaluate for talent or work history and knowledge? Be honest:

  1. Do you have a list of “talent” related criteria you look for when hiring? 
    1. Is it written down?
    2. Has it been shared with everyone in the hiring process?
  2. Have you ever hired someone who didn’t have the resume or work experience, but met all your talent requirements?
  3. Have you ever NOT hired someone who did have the work experience and credentials, but didn’t meet the talent requirements?
  4. Have your talent requirements changed over the years? (Hint: they should have)
  5. Does your talent criteria include things like work history, experience, schooling, etc? (Hint: they shouldn’t)
  6. Do you rank your talent criteria?
  7. Do you have a systematic or specific approach to identify or find talent in candidates?


How did you answer these questions? Could you answer yes to all of these questions? Don’t sweat it if not, most can’t. That being said, you should start your own talent evaluation process now.

Talented people have the innate skills or talents in specific areas that allows them to exceed. They have both the tangible and intangible skills that prepare them for a particular job. In this case, it’s sales or sales leadership. Talent goes beyond experience, industry knowledge, and education. Talent is what brings experience, industry knowledge, and eduction to life.

If you don’t have a talent review process, stop and create one. Take the time to create your own talent evaluation criteria and scorecard. Spend the time to understand exactly what talent looks like in your sales roles, leadership, or individual contributors. It will make a considerable difference in your hiring success.

There is an additional benefit to creating your own talent assessment.  It will be yours. It will define you as a leader and as a team builder.  Leaders who have their own clear, discernible approach and criteria to identifying sales and sales leadership talent are in high demand, and their talent assessing skills are part of their brand. Identifying talent is one of the most important skills of sales leaders, and yet few sales leaders have the skill.

Be a talent evaluator, not just a resume reader. You’ll be doing yourself a favor.