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Don’t’ Hire Someone to “Figure it All Out”

by Doug Davidoff | Jan 20, 2011 3:48:00 AM

The following is a guest post by Bob Corlett, President of Staffing Advisors.  Bob is a genius when it comes to staffing issues and, in his own words, is a "Staffing Consigliere."  Bob writes a great blog on strategic staffing issues called The Staffing Advisor.  I encourage you to check it out.

To run a company is to confront one complex problem after another.  In fact, if you are not frustrated  then  you are probably working on the wrong problem. But it is always a mistake to hire someone to solve a problem you do not understand.   You should never “outsource all your thinking” to a new hire. As an executive search consultant, I know you are in trouble when you can’t tell me your strategy to overcome obstacles, but instead tell me “If I hire the right person, they will be able to figure this all out!”

This is an epidemic problem in sales.  Somehow, many people came to believe (incorrectly) that “a good salesperson can sell anything.”  Some managers even seem to also believe the reverse is true – that if you cannot sell (whatever it is your company sells), well then it must be because you were not a very good salesperson.  These frustrated managers often say:  “Where are all the good salespeople?  Doesn’t anyone want to work anymore?”   Actually, the answer to their question is obvious:

The great salespeople are all out selling for organizations that have a working sales strategy.  They are working for companies that already figured out who their customers are, what their value proposition is, and where their sales prowess is handsomely rewarded.

An excellent salesperson cannot make up for all the deficiencies in your product offering.  Founders and owners can and often do sell past those obstacles, but you didn’t see top sales pros gravitating into buggy whip sales after Henry Ford came along with the car.

It’s great to collaborate with outside consultants, but please don’t bother trying to recruit an employee to “figure it all out” for you – that is just lazy thinking - and lazy thinking is not attractive to top performers.  (I should point out that lazy thinking is very powerfully attractive to other lazy thinkers – the big talkers who want a place to hide out, where the expectations are fuzzy, metrics nonexistent, and the boss is not paying attention … because that is exactly what you end up with, when you start out lazy).

Great salespeople have business acumen.  And one of the first things that smart employees look for is your ability to confront the challenges facing your organization.   Of course you will have challenges, but what draws top people is your plan to attack those problems.  So hire someone who buys into your vision, but please don’t even think about filling a job you do not understand.