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Hire for the Right Set of Attributes

Recently a good friend sent me a list of outcomes he wants his new salespeople to achieve. He’s using this list as a sort of hiring guide. But to generate these outcomes, you need to look for the underlying attributes.

Self Starter: The underlying attribute is self-discipline. Intrinsic motivation is found when a person has a burning reason, a bigger “why.” To discover whether or not they are a self-starter, you need to understand how they view their disciplines and the reasons they take action.

Sales Strategy – Strategic Thinker: This is a combination of business acumen and situational knowledge. It’s an understanding of human psychology, business principles, and a base of experiences on which to draw.

Respected, Credible, Trusted Advisor: This is about influence, which is a combination of a whole bunch of attributes, like caring, business acumen, and situational knowledge. To be a trusted advisor you have to care enough to generate the trust and know enough to do the advising.

Customer Focus: This is caring. If you care more about your outcome than your clients, you reek of a deal-breaking self-orientation.

C-Suite Access: Overrated, in my opinion (You really want the CEO of the Problem in most cases). But if you want C-Suite access you had better be steeped in business acumen, and you better have a damn important strategic issue that deserves the C-Suite’s attention.

Sells Value: I can almost tell you how willing a salesperson is to sell value by looking at their pipeline. If you don’t prospect like the devil, you won’t sell value. You’ll be too worried about losing and cave on price.

Leverages Resources: This is leadership. You have to be able to sell inside your own organization and lead your internal team.

If you want these outcomes (or some like them), you have to hire the underlying attributes. You can teach, train, coach, and develop the skills easier than you can build the attributes (and you should do both).


What outcomes do you need an employee to be able to achieve?

What are the underlying attributes that allow them to produce those outcomes?

How can you help develop these attributes in your employees?

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  • Amber King

    Another great article Anthony. Skills are very important. Sometimes, I look past educational achievement since most skills are not really acquired in school. A good set of skills is a key for success.

  • Enkata

    As a manager you need to build a team that is greater than the sum of its parts. That means you need to know what the strengths and weaknesses of your staff are. Where are the talent gaps? If you have 10 people great at A but no one knows B there is a whole that needs to be filled.