What Stock Picking Can Teach Us About Hiring Sales People

Hiring is a skill. It’s a skill that you as a hiring manager better get good at, because those who can hire the best sales people win.

The single biggest differentiator in sales teams isn’t the product, or the strategy, or the market. It’s the sales people hired to go execute and if you and your organization don’t know how to hire the best of the best, you’re gonna lose.

I get it, hiring is hard. It’s like picking a stock. Pick the right stock and you can makes some serious coin. Pick the wrong stock and you can loose some serious cash. And like picking stocks, there is no perfect formula. No matter how much research you put in, you won’t always be successful. You’ll pick some stocks that should have been home runs and they crash and burn, while others that should have been bombs crush it and exceed expectations.

In the world of stock picking there are two methodologies to minimize the risk, technical and fundamental analysis.

Technical analysis evaluates securities by analyzing statistics generated by market activity, such as past prices and volume. Technical analysis does not attempt to measure a security’s intrinsic value, but instead uses charts and other tools to identify patterns that can suggest future activity. 

Fundamental analysis evaluates a security by attempting to measure its intrinsic value by examining related economic, financial and other qualitative and quantitative factors. Fundamental analysts attempt to study everything that can affect the security’s value, including macroeconomic factors (like the overall economy and industry conditions) and company-specific factors (like financial condition and management). 

Picking people is very similar to picking stocks. It’s so similar that like stocks, it leverages the same methodologies; technical and fundamental analysis. Like stocks or securities you can look for past trends of the candidate and ignore a candidates intrinsic value (technical analysis) or you can look to measure the intrinsic value of the candidate (fundamental analysis).

And this is where I become irreverent. Attempting to hiring candidates leveraging technical analysis is just stupid and short sighted. It prevents you from finding some of the best, most  productive candidates and employees.  When we use technical analysis in the hiring process, we are using things like a GPA, years of experience, degree, etc as the data to predict whether or not a candidate can do the job and that’s the problem. GPA, years of experience, college degrees etc are not predictive and provide very little insight into whether or not a person can actually do the job you need them to do.

“One of the things we’ve seen from all our data crunching is that G.P.A.’s are worthless as a criteria for hiring, and test scores are worthless . . . we found they don’t predict anything” — Laszlo Bock – Sr. Vice President People Operations Google

Technical analysis is the cheap hiring process of those who are incapable of identifying a candidates intrinsic value default to in the hiring process.

There was a time in my career that a company was extremely interested in hiring me to head up the their sales organization and after they found out I didn’t have my degree (I’ve since gone back and finished my BA), they quickly told me I was no longer a candidate. This is technical hiring.

At A Sales Guy Recruiting, we are constantly educating our clients on NOT leveraging the technical methodology. It’s not uncommon for us to deliver a killer candidate who they reject because they don’t have a degree, or their GPA was too low, or they didn’t have the industry experience they wanted.

It’s maddening. At A Sales Guy Recruiting we don’t subscribe to technical hiring, we subscribe to fundamental hiring and are working to perfect it. We believe so strongly in fundamental hiring, we won’t work with clients who subscribe to technical hiring. We don’t believe it produces the best candidates.

Fundamental hiring, like fundamental analysis focuses on the quantitative AND qualitative data. It’s sole purpose is to understand the intrinsic value of the candidate. This is even more valuable in the hiring process, because people are far more complex and unpredictable than stocks.

Technical hiring ignores candidates who lack the appropriate degree, who don’t have the particular industry experience or product knowledge or appropriate GPA. Technical hiring puts tremendous emphasis on the measurable and will eliminate candidates who don’t have the requisite requirements. The premise is, these past measurements are predictors of future performance. The goal of technical hiring is to identify measurements that correlate to success and hire based on those criteria.

Fundamental hiring goes further, taking into consideration the uniqueness of every candidates personality, background, environmental factors, identity and more. Fundamental hiring, like that of fundamental analysis in securities trading, looks for the intrinsic value in the candidate. Fundamental hiring goes further. Fundamental hiring can look at GPA, industry experience, degree etc but as a way to determine how it can or does affect a candidates ability to do the job, NOT as a criteria that must be met to be hired.

Fundamental hiring asks, can this candidate do the job?

Technical hiring asks, does this candidate have the criteria to do the job and these are two ENTIRELY different questions.

I know, most of you are thinking, I leverage fundamental hiring. But, if you cut a sales candidate out of the process because they don’t have industry knowledge, a particular GPA, a degree, a particular number of years of experience, then you are a technical hirer.

I don’t like technical hiring. I work very closely with our recruiters to hone their fundamental recruiting approaches. We push our clients to broaden their approach and hone their fundamental recruiting skills, because that’s how the best people are found and hired.

In the world of technical hiring, Richard Branson, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and Jet Blue founder David Neelman would never have been hired as none of them have their degrees.

Take a look at your hiring process. Do you focus on the hiring criteria or the intrinsic value of the candidate? It makes a difference!

Don’t be so short sighted. Learn to measure the intrinsic value of your candidates and stop taking the short cut, ’cause if you or your company leverage technical hiring, you will lose the talent acquisition battle.