When applying for new sales positions, many employers ask prospective new Sales Managers to bring their list of contacts with them.
‘Which clients are you going to bring with you?’
‘How well do you know them and are you sure they will become a customer of ours?’
‘How much business will you confirm from your existing clientbase?’
And so the questions continue…
For some hiring managers, this is the key determining factor on who to hire.
The theory makes sense. If you are in sales, we want you to bring in business and so we want to know from who and how much. However, surely this argument is fundamentally flawed for some of the following reasons:
- Any good sales person can easily massage the truth in an interview
- Surely, sales is dependent on many other factors not only on personal relations. You might be best friends with a corporate traveller manager, but if your hotel is in the wrong location, they won’t book you!
- How transferable are these contacts? If you suddenly switch to selling a competitor, wont your clients doubt your credibility?
- What about passion, drive, hunger and all of the other wonderful attributes that sales people need? The old saying is that a good sales person can sell anything.
- Your career. If all a future employer wants are my relations and network, then what’s in it for me other than money?
- Many senior client contacts are often not those making the initial buying decisions anyway. This has always been true for MICE sales where many suppliers bypass more junior staff, who are actually more important that the MD.
- Data is so accessible these days that most companies will have all of the contacts you need anyway.
I don’t doubt that industry knowledge is important and some contacts are of course useful; however, don’t some companies and hiring managers really have to get over this antiquated and narrow minded way of recruiting?
What do you think?
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