Whenever we are interviewing sales people we take the time to get to know them outside of their career experience.
Whenever we are interviewing sales people we take the time to get to know them outside of their career experience. One thing in particular that we look for is people who have competed at a high level in sports. I would prefer to hire a sales rep that has played a sport at a high level over someone who hasn’t. I’ll give you an example of why.
I grew up as a competitive swimmer. When I was 12 years old, I competed at a National level. I was up five mornings a week, in the pool from 5am to 7am and swam anywhere between 5 and 7km. After school, I was in the pool from 4:30 to 6:30pm and swam about the same distance. To put that in perspective, that is approximately 400-560 laps a day mostly front crawl. In that year, I would have swam somewhere in the neighbourhood of 100,000 laps of a pool. As you can imagine, it is very repetitive, grueling and pretty isolating. You can’t wear headphones and listen to music; you just grind it out day in and day out, constantly pushing yourself to get better.
My speciality was the 100-meter butterfly and my time for the race was about 1 minute. I trained all year for that one race (I trained for other events as well but really this was the most important one) and I either won, bettered my best time or I didn’t. 100,000 laps of a pool for a 1 minute race. It seems a bit crazy. But here’s what it taught me and why we look for sales people who were competitive athletes:
Anyone who can commit to a demanding schedule like that of a competitive
sport, will have the same discipline and drive to commit to their future pursuits. They don’t give
up easily; a trait that is critical in sales.
Swimming 100,000 laps is like making cold calls or warm calls. You put your head down and know you have to do it to reach your goal. You may not want to but you know you have to.
Not every practice is going to be your best but learning to overcome obstacles and hurdles in the process teaches you what it takes to push through them and ultimately achieve your goal.
Everyone who has competed in any sport at a high level has had to overcome failure. No athlete wins 100% of the time, and the same goes for sales. Competitive athletes know this and can apply it to sales. Top performers don’t let a missed sale affect their day.
Companies we work with use this term a lot. They want someone with a winning attitude. Those who have won possess this to their core. Those who haven’t, can’t. Sports are great for a lot of things but in sales, having an athletic background gives you an edge.
Next time you are looking to hire a sales rep, ask if they played any competitive sports growing up. If they did, you may have found a winner.
Rhys is a tenacious, top performing Senior Sales Recruiter with 15+ years of focused experience in the Digital Media, Mobile, Software, Technology and B2B verticals. He has a successful track record of headhunting top performing sales candidates for some of the most exciting brands in North America. He is a Certified Recruitment Specialist (CRS) and has expert experience in prospecting new business, client retention/renewals and managing top performing sales and recruitment teams. Rhys enjoys spending quality time with his wife, son, and daughters, BBQing on a hot summer day and tropical vacations.