Tim Tebow was the Florida Gators’ starting quarterback who, in 2007, became the first college sophomore to win the Heisman Trophy. In 2008, Tebow led Florida to a 13–1 record and its second national championship in three years, and was named the offensive MVP of the national championship game. The Gators again went 13–1 in 2009, his senior year. At the conclusion of his college career, he held the Southeastern Conference’s all-time records in both career passing efficiency and total rushing touchdowns, appearing second and tenth (respectively) in the NCAA record book in these categories.
I think we all can agree that he had a pretty impressive college football career. Here’s the question, if you were an NFL team owner would you draft Tim Tebow?
Be honest… not knowing what you know today, pretend it is 2010. Would you do what the Denver Bronco’s did and take him in the first round?
That is the question I asked a client the other day. They answered, yes… just like most of us would and we all would have made the same mistake.
Professional Football is a lot Like Professional Sales
Both are executional professions. You are not paid for what you know; you are paid for what you can execute on.
No question Tim Tebow could execute very well at the Division 1 level under Coach Urban Meyer’s system. At the NFL level, not so much.
What about your sales candidate? Can they sell your product, at your margins, in your time frame?
Too often the “Tim Tebow” effect in business-to-business sales is industry experience. In other words, they came from our industry selling the same thing surely they can sell for us. Often industry experience is the number one selection criteria because it implies that that you don’t have to do any product training which, in turn, implies a shorter ramp-up period and they can be generating sales sooner. How often has this assumption come true for you?
Industry Experience vs. Execution Ability
Industry experience, i.e. product knowledge, is a factor but it is not the only factor. What does your position, regardless of the industry experience, require a salesperson to be able to execute on?
Here are examples of some executional requirements:
- Sell value – This means being able to differentiate your value from your competitors.
- Sell quality – Higher quality products typically have a higher cost of acquisition (they cost more) and a lower cost of operation (cheaper or more efficient to run) so you have to be able to sell a product at a higher price than your competitors.
- Operate remotely – They are able to work without their direct supervisor being in the same office. You typically see this as people who can work out of an office in their home.
- Self-starting – The ability to find your own motivation for accomplishing what needs to be done, and then, the degree to which you will maintain this course in face of adversity.
- Generate new leads – The ability to source new companies and get an appointment.
- Shepherd deals – In a complex sale with a long sales cycle, they can bring in subject matter experts and keep the customer, as well as their own team, on track and “shepherd” the deal to a close.
- Cross-sell and or up-sell – The ability to identify additional opportunities within the customer’s company even if it requires calling on someone else.
- Close deals – The ability to ask for and obtain an order. This seems obvious but many times it is never discussed or screened for in the hiring process.
How to Screen For Execution
In order to execute, you must be competent which is the ability to do something successfully or efficiently. Competency requires skill which is the ability to do something that comes from training, experience, or practice. So, in order to screen for execution, you must know what skills make up the competency. For example:
Closing: If your sales position requires a salesperson to close deals, other than asking for the order, are you aware of the nine competencies that make up the ability to close?
Selling Value: Your sales position requires a salesperson to be able differentiate your product from competitors in order to maintain your price point. Are you aware of the self-limiting beliefs that will prevent a person, who has them, from selling value? Do you know the selling skills needed to sell value?
Shepherd deals: Your sales position requires a salesperson to be able to execute on complex sales with a long sales cycle. The sales competencies they must have are Consultative and Qualifying. There are thirty skills that make up these competencies. Which ones are you screening for?
If you are not good at screening for these and other sales competencies get outside help.
I suggest using the Objective Management Group Confidential Candidate Screening. It is the only sales executional assessment available. With 96% accuracy, it will predict what sales behaviors your candidate is capable of executing on. To register for a free sales candidate assessment, click here.
Knowing this information before you go into your interview changes the context of the interview because you are able to zero in on executional issues versus asking the same standard questions for which the candidate has prepared answers for; answers they know you want to hear.
Having a Candidate Demonstrate They can Execute
I wrote about this in Lights, Camera, Action – Time to Audition for the Role
Back to Tim Tebow
Would I hire him if I was an NFL team owner? Yes, just not as a Quarterback or in any player role.
Given what I know about his vales, integrity, work ethic, values, passion for the sport, etc., I would consider him for a player development role or some role in my front office. Hire the right person and figure-out where they fit in.