I’m thinking of the poker colloquialism “tell.” From Wikipedia:
A tell in poker is a detectable change in a player’s behavior or demeanor that gives clues to that player’s assessment of his hand. A player gains an advantage if he observes and understands the meaning of another player’s tell, particularly if the tell is unconscious and reliable.
Our experiences have provided us with the ability to read certain sales manager behaviors during the hiring process. Typically, we notice the red flags first since they are most dangerous. Here is a sample:
Tell: Hiring For Experience
Sales managers who pass on strongly-skilled salespeople in favor of salespeople with industry experience. This common approach makes a significant, flawed presumption; that industry experience is more difficult to acquire than selling ability.
Flag: Sales manager is hoping to simply plug-in the new salesperson without spending appropriate time training them. The “sink or swim” management technique.
Tell: Judging Candidate Appearance
Sales managers who draw deep conclusions from simply assessing the candidate’s physical appearance. We’ve seen managers who assume increased body weight=lethargy, ruddy complexion=alcoholism and unbuttoned cufflinks=unprofessionalism.
Flag: Sales manager will take single-point data and run it out to their own conclusion. This is a difficult manager for a salesperson to work under since unfounded suspicion will be everywhere.
Tell: Making Statements, Not Asking Questions
Sales managers who don’t truly ask a question in an interview, but rather make a statement (accurate or otherwise). “You sold through distributors not directly to companies.” Honestly, that was stated erroneously by a sales manager to a candidate in an interview recently.
Flag: Sales manager makes snap decisions and then works to confirm them. The lack of objectivity leads to preset beliefs that can run counter to reality.
Not all of these flags play out to extreme levels, but they do impact the hiring process in a negative way. We have seen sales managers pass on good candidates due to the aforementioned flags.