Hire the rolodex builder, not the rolodex – 3 traits

I’ve heard from many start-up CEOs and Founders, “I want sales people with a rolodex.”  Since I left Microsoft, to start The Five Abilities™, I’ve been approached by recruiters who are very open that their company/client wants my rolodex.  They assume after 30+ years in tech that I must have a good network.  The truth is I probably have a better rolodex than they assume because I’m still building it, and with a broader audience. 

My intent is not to brag but instead to emphasize the importance of hiring sales people who know what to do when they’ve turned to Z, in the rolodex, and still need more prospects.  Yes, hiring people with a great network is ideal and reference selling is very efficient but the only certain thing about a rolodex is that it gets old.  Even in today’s networked world, it’s more important than ever that we hire sales people who know how to open doors when they don’t know the people on the other side.  If we only look for the rolodex we might miss the raw sales skills that can build a rolodex from scratch.

3 traits to look for…

Helpers – People can have a lot of connections and still not have a great network.  Productive networks are built by people who have a history of being consistent helpers and value providers both at a professional and a personal level.  These are people that others call for help.  Walk into an organization and ask people who they seek for help and coaching.  When you start hearing the same name repeated, you’ve found the center of a productive network.

Improvisers – I’m a musician and in the music world good improvisation is the sign of a good musician because no matter what is being played they can join in.  The best improvisers make the music better.  The reason improvisation is so important in selling is because the best rolodex builders develop meaningful connections in varying circles and find the opportunities for very different people to form common bonds for success.  This merges rolodexes and creates an even larger network.

Information junkies – Rolodex builders get high on new ideas and different opinions.  They can see multiple points of view even when they don’t agree and they can merge disparate ideas into collaborative action.  They aren’t know-it-alls, but they know a lot and they know how to use information to help others.  Helping others draws more people and more information thus feeding their habit and their rolodex.

Helper, improviser and information junkie.  When we find these traits in a candidate, hire them before they leave the building because someone in their growing network, which may include the competition, is waiting outside to ask them for help.

©2013 Rick Wong – The Five Abilities™ LLC


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