Why You’ll Fail by Hiring People with Experience and Product Knowledge

Ryan Tognazzini has an awesome post up today over at Sales Benchmark Index. He nailed it. In it Ryan breaks down why hiring for product knowledge, experience and years of management experience are mistakes.  I’ve argued for years that emphasizing years of experience or industry and product knowledge are red herrings and increase the risk of making bad hiring decisions.

I like how Ryan puts it,

You want to hire someone who is a demonstrated student of the game; someone who is on the bleeding edge of the industry they work in today. It’s not relevant that they’ve worked in the industry for dozens of years. What you care about is their ability to evolve at the pace of the industry you’re in today.

Industries are changing at light speed these days. Hiring someone based on how long they’ve been in an industry guarantees you just one thing, they know how it used to be.

The same goes for product knowledge. Again, Ryan’s quote here is great;

If you are making a hiring decision on product knowledge, you’re deciding on something that will be irrelevant in less than 6 months.

Focus your efforts on identifying candidates who can tell you what problems their customers have today and how they solve them. Great candidates can tell you:

  • What problems their market has
  • How they solve them
  • What benefits the customer will receive

The answer you hear should not have a single mention of a product feature or benefit.

This is a great post. Ryan did a killer job. Go check it out and change your hiring process.  What was once was important, is no longer important.

For a complete guide on hiring “A” players and improving your team, download my free eBook. How to Hire A Players.