Finding the right who – someone that embodies your core values – for an open sales position is such a common need that it’s almost an afterthought at this point. However, taking that concept too lightly could have a monumentally negative impact on your organization for years to come.

In other words, it’s difficult to overstate just how critical it is to find the right who that meshes with your core values and will take your organization’s vision as their own. Therefore, I want to take a closer look at what the right who means for your recruiting process as well as the bigger organizational picture.

What Does the Right Who Actually Mean?

If you cut your company open, what would it bleed from its core? What are the common traits that define you and your people, from an entry level accountant to your VP of Sales?

Someone that aligns with those traits has the potential to be the right who, and they are essential in maintaining the core values that make up your company’s DNA and heart. Using our team at Pursuit as an example, some of our core values include:

  • United in the foxhole
  • Relentless pursuit of excellence
  • Three C’s – competitive, coachable, and confident

As I said, these are the values that every Pursuit team member must possess, no matter their role in our organization. If someone is missing any of them, then they are not the right who for Pursuit.

Of course, your company’s core values won’t necessarily be the same as Pursuit’s, so it’s vital that you begin your search for the right who by creating a set of core values for your organization and people.

Creating Core Values For Your Company

I understand the thought of creating your core values might seem like an inexact science at first glance. Granted, there’s some truth to that notion since you’re defining patently qualitative concepts rather than the quantitative KPIs and other metrics you’re so accustomed to.

My suggestion is to start the process by sitting down with your team and identifying the people that align with your culture, vision, and essence. From there, brainstorm on the different traits that caused you to identify each person in the first place, taking note of any common characteristics you find across the people.

If you’re thorough, you’ll end up with a list of adjectives that make up who you are, the traits that you, as an organization, can’t live without. While you’ll want to flesh them out as much as possible, that list will serve as the basis for your core values and, thus, what constitutes the right who for your open seats.

Just make certain that the set of values you ultimately define actually mean something. Try to avoid using drab, common language that might as well have come from a generic motivation poster hanging on a wall. Also, your values should be alive and vibrant, bolstered by management’s ability to walk the talk. 

How to Use Your Core Values in Your Hiring Process

As I said when discussing the hiring funnel, your core values won’t help you find the right person unless you integrate them into your interview process.

But how are you supposed to infuse your core values into an interview? It’s not like you can come right out and ask a candidate if they are “committed to excellence.” After all, who would say “no” to that question? Thankfully, there’s a more reliable way to assess a candidate for your core values during an interview.

Try assembling a list of value-oriented questions that you can use as a guide. As you ask the questions, keep a scorecard of your core values, literally placing a plus or minus next to each as the candidate expresses their thoughts and personal values.

In the final interview stage, you can be more overt in the process, perhaps saying something like, “I’m looking for somebody that will pursue excellence relentlessly and be united in the foxhole with our team – sell me on those concepts.”

Not only will this reveal more about their alignment with your core values but also display their sales skills which, after all, is what you’re ultimately hiring them to do for you.

The Wrong Who Puts Your Entire Company at Risk

So why did I want to take such a deep dive on a concept that many – perhaps even most – HR managers and hiring managers take for granted? Because hiring someone that doesn’t fit your core values – even if they’re a top performer – presents a far greater danger to your company than just hiring the wrong who.

In fact, when the wrong who is in the sales foxhole with your team, it can cause a shift in your core. Thus, a single misalignment can essentially contaminate other people that, with time, changes your culture and organization as a whole. Obviously you cannot afford to have your core change on you, and it only takes a miss with one or two hires to cause that core to shift.

I’d like nothing better than to say I’m being hyperbolic about the dangers of hiring the wrong who to prove a point. Unfortunately, we’ve seen these dangers firsthand too many times to think any differently – a misalignment with your core values can quickly wreak havoc on your entire organization.