We all know the profile. Guy comes out of a D1 lacrosse program, team captain, tons of accolades, gets hired at Goldman because they want someone aggressive and competitive. The hiring manager wants an all-star player. You know-- the kind that the team would look to when they were down by two with one minute left because he "could handle the pressure."
I hate those people. (Am I allowed to say "hate" on my business blog? I don't care.) I hate them as employees. These are the people who are consistently anticipating that "Great Job!" comment every time they accomplish a task. They are used to things coming easy, to getting their way, and to being celebrated. They do not work out on my sales team.
You see, I've got a little chip on my shoulder (I actually did chip the bone in a bike crash three years ago but that's besides the point.) In the 7th grade I was told by a gym teacher that I would never be an athlete. Then, when lacrosse was introduced to my high school I was "informed" that college jerseys would go to the girls who had been playing since middle school. When I was recruited for Drew U's women's lacrosse team (Go RANGERS!) there was no hiding the fact that I was a personality pick. I was the one who spent the most time doing wall ball and the least time on the field. I didn't start games until my senior year. I had NONE of the skills that made a good athlete- first step quickness, coordination, the ability to keep my hair out of my eyes at critical moments (girls, you get this....)
But it turns out, I DID have all of the skills that make an amazing sales person. I had the ability to keep showing up every day with a smile on my face, even when things weren't going my way. I had the heart to congratulate teammates on a game well played even though I was dying inside because I only saw the field for a few minutes. I learned the value of getting just a little better every day. I was able to remain competitive with myself and keep the mindset that "It wasn't all about me."
Sales is a team sport. And while every sales team has its All-Star who has all the charm and the key clients, my experience has shown me that these are the people who will leave for a new shiny offer, often taking some of those key clients with them. It's the people who are willing to work the small accounts to the bone, to do the business development tasks daily, to keep making phone calls- even when the dollars aren't flowing in immediately- that work out for the long term. These are the people who will grow your company.
I do believe that hiring former collegiate athletes is a great way to get employees who understand hard work, who learn quickly, who take criticism well, and who are generally on the "cool" side of the social spectrum. But look for the ones who really had to work for it. You will be happy you did!
If you are looking to hire sales people and want some of the athletes in the JumpSmart network, drop us a line.