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How to Hire Sales Rockstars w/ Jeff Hyman [Episode 652]

Jeff Hyman, Chief Talent Officer at Strong Suit, and author of Recruit Rockstars: The 10 Step Playbook to Find the Winners and Ignite Your Business joins me on this episode.


  • Jeff says the single biggest challenge facing sales reps today is the high degree of competition that makes it really hard to differentiate themselves through the noise. Be laser-focused about your unique selling proposition.
  • Jeff’s book gives a plan to follow to hire ‘A’ players, as mentioned in his book. The book is designed to help reduce the risks attached to bringing on new employees. Hiring is inherently very risky.
  • Relying on gut feel, trite questions, or the promise of a ‘Rolodex’ is not a good hiring policy. The cost of hiring a bad manager is 7X their salary. This understates the severity of the potential damage they can do.
  • Jeff’s book offers a standardized process to take the emotion out of the hiring decision. We are subject to emotional biases in the recruiting process. Making it data-driven increases your chance of a good hire.
  • A rockstar is one who will perform in the top 5% of people available for the role at the compensation you can afford to pay. An objective process finds that person. A rockstar can only be a rockstar if they are set up for success.
  • Jeff tells how he looks for up-and-comers who will see the position as a big advance. Andy suggests hiring into sales the rockstars in other departments. Author Anthony Tjan recommends choosing goodness over competency.
  • Herb Kelleher of Southwest hires for attitude and trains for skill. You can’t train niceness. It’s critical to let people with hateful attitudes and bad behaviors go, even if they are star players. Have talent ready to replace them.
  • Make sure the interview team agrees on what they want in the “DNA” and the competencies for success in the role. Make a benchmark scorecard. Interviewers ask each candidate the same questions in the same order.
  • Jeff says do not post a bulleted list of ‘must-haves.’ Use a well-crafted ‘job invitation,’ that has an emotional connection to it talking about the company, industry, opportunity, upside, and growth that invites rockstars.
  • Jeff recommends hosting a short video that features authentic conversations with some of your best folks with half of them being women. A video should be part of every job invitation.
  • Reference checks — Jeff checks ‘referenceability’ over the phone. ‘Who would you give me for manager references?’ He also checks social media.
  • The ‘test drive’ is the single most predictive step in recruiting, but it is usually skipped. Jeff gives an example of giving a candidate role-playing calls with a product data sheet. Do they crave feedback or get defensive?