Talent Selection vs Talent Development: Where Should You Be Focusing Your Efforts?

Written by: Lisa Rose
talent development

Development can help great people be even better–but if I had a dollar to spend, I’d spend 70 cents getting the right person in the door.”
—Paul Russell

As sales leaders, we know that a business can’t grow without great people, and yet many companies don’t place enough emphasis on designing and executing a rigorous selection process. Training and Development programs are vital to refining the talent you already have, but companies that hire smart know that spending more time up front finding the right person is far more efficient than training the wrong one.

Before you invest in developing your talent, make sure you have the right players on your team. Here are 3 reasons why talent selection deserves your immediate attention.

1. Resources lost on wrong hires are better spent developing the right ones

We’ve all been there before and seen firsthand how a bad hiring decision drains time, resources, and energy that could otherwise be used to drive growth. The US Department of Labor estimates that the cost of a bad hire can equal 30 percent of the employee’s potential first-year earnings, but the loss goes beyond that.

Hiring the wrong salesperson can cost you in missed client opportunities and valuable time away from the rest of your team. Time and money spent on training (and retraining) someone who just isn’t a good fit, combined with the time it takes to find a replacement can really throw off your team’s flow, and ultimately affect their performance.

Your sales team needs and expects for you to be available to them—for coaching, regular check-ins, and strategy creation. When one team member requires a disproportionate amount of time and attention, you miss out on developing the solid talent you already have on your bench.

2. You can’t change a person’s fundamental makeup

Success in a position comes from a mix of work experience, technical skills, and personal attributes. Focusing too much on the first two and not enough on the last is usually what results in disappointing hiring decisions. Unlike hard skills, which can be developed over time, a person’s will to do a job (and do it well) won’t be affected much by training. That’s why it’s critical to make sure a candidate’s natural born motivators and behavior style align with your position and company culture.

Instead of trying to train someone to fit into a role they aren’t designed for, identify the target behaviors and attitudes a position needs first, and then incorporate hiring tools and interview questions that will help you find people with those attributes.

The pair of shoes you received as a gift may look great when you try them on, but squeezing into them when they’re a size too small will ultimately end up as an uncomfortable situation—it begins as a minor distraction, but after a while it just becomes painful.

3. Candidates that are well matched to a position are more receptive to training

Having the right person in the right place sets them up for high performance right off the bat, but that compatibility will make your training resources go even further when you do invest in their development down the road.

Training delivered to B and C players will only increase their performance slightly, while the same training will dramatically increase the performance of A players. That’s because people are hardwired to grow exponentially in their areas of natural talent—a concept that was illustrated in a classic study by researchers at the University of Nebraska: The same speed reading training was delivered to a group of students, and while poor readers increased their reading speed from 90 to 150 words per minute, gifted readers increased their speed from 350 to 2900 words per minute. That’s why it’s critical to identify candidates that naturally excel in the areas your open position needs for success.

Finding that perfect match requires you to look past biases and interview facades, and objectively evaluate a candidate based on their compatibility. Including comprehensive assessments in your hiring process allows for that objective evaluation, and it also provides you with a coaching manual to develop your new hire’s skills in the most effective way.

Focus your efforts on selection now in order to get the most out of training later

Making the commitment to optimize your talent selection process should be a priority to drive sales growth in the New Year. The extra effort you put in upfront will be rewarded with high performers and a strategy for efficiently developing your people to their full potential.

Take the guesswork out of hiring by determining exactly what a position requires for high performance with an Ideal Sales Profile.

Brooks Talent Index® assessments measure candidates against this benchmarked profile and reveal the best match for long-term success in your organization. Learn more.


NOTE: Our sales training tools are designed to make your life easier. Use them to your advantage.

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Written By

Lisa Rose

Lisa Rose is a Group Vice President of Sales at The Brooks Group. Lisa has passion for helping managers develop a unique, motivational sales culture in their organizations. She can drive sales managers who merely put out fires day to day to flourish as visionaries who can motivate their team and generate results for their sales organizations.

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