My "Spidey Sense" started tingling as I answered the phone. I smelled trouble. A Sales Manager called me, brimming with excitement about a rainmaker sales candidate. "She's got industry experience, a strong track record, and she wants to relocate to our market to sell!" But as I probed for details, the picture didn't look so promising. What were the red flags?

This candidate had all the earmarks of a desperation hire. A Sales Manager, short on headcount and behind on the numbers, searches frantically for someone who will fix all the problems at once. The manager relies on hope as a strategy.

What set off my "Spidey Sense" with this candidate?
  • Multiple job changes over a few years
  • Expertise in a similar but different field (meaning there would be a learning curve)
  • Big talker, lots of promises
  • A relocation from another market, meaning a longer ramp up
How do I express my concerns to the manager without ruining his enthusiasm? I try to think of a metaphor that makes sense. Is this like completing a "Hail Mary" pass in football? Is it like sinking a 50 foot side-hill putt in golf?

Worth A Shot?

I settle on a billiard analogy. "This is like making a shot in pool. A combination shot banking off two rails." Yes, it's possible but highly unlikely.

This person will need to learn a new product, move into a new market, develop a new network, and build a new funnel, all while moving into a new metro area?

The legendary pool hustler Minnesota Fats once said "great pool players don't make a lot of hard shots. They play great position and make a lot of easy shots."

A New Approach

This sales manager needs to stop taking desperation shots, and put himself into position to make a bunch of easy shots. How?
  • Work to get more candidates, so it's not like "last call at the corner bar"
  • Create enticing offers (outside of base salaries) that attract talented people
  • Rigorously screen out the big talkers who won't produce
  • Set realistic expectations that lead to results and exciting career growth over time
Every one of these steps is very simple. Why don't more people follow them?

Pat Riley once said "success is simple but not easy." The steps to a great hiring process are extremely simple, but require discipline and time to execute. It's often hard for busy owners and managers to take this time, or it's not convenient, or they'd rather play for the "Hail Mary" pass.

There's no better way to build a winning team than to recruit great talent. Hiring great talent is a matter of executing a series of simple, basic steps.


Don't hope for the desperation double-bank combination pool shot. Put yourself in line to make easy shots by playing great position.
  • Identify plenty of candidates
  • Make the job offer attractive to talented people
  • Screen candidates effectively
  • Set realistic goals and expectations
  • Help your new hires ramp up and produce results
Michael Schmidtmann is sales coach at 4-Profit, an IT-centric leadership development organization focused on helping solution providers and the manufacturers and distributors serving the IT channel. Read all of 4-Profit's insights on The VAR Guy here.