It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over

It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over!

Back in the1980’s, I was one of the lucky ones who had Celtics season tickets. And in the spring of ’84 I was there — in the Boston Garden — for the Celtics-Lakers playoffs. I watched Larry Bird and Kareem-Abdul Jabbar make basketball history while I listened to the late, great Johnny Most give the play by play on my Sony Walkman.

uring one of those games (a must win for Boston) the Celtics were down over 20 points at the end of the third quarter. It seemed futile. So, understandably, many fans started leaving, not wanting to witness first hand this humiliation. I turned to my friend and made the gentle suggestion that we just might want to follow suit. “Betsy,” she snapped back, “it ain’t over till it’s over!”

he Celtics went on to tie the game in the fourth quarter and win it in overtime. (And we went on to gloat about the losers who had left the game!) The Celtics beat the Lakers for the championship that year and Larry Bird was named MVP.

I was reminded of my friend recently while we were on a search for a senior salesperson for a client. We found them three great candidates to qualify to sell their suite of network availability solutions. They were all highly skilled selling into that market and had certifiable quota busting performance.

We sent the first one in for an interview and our client fell in love! We were quite pleased ourselves that he had made such a hit but suggested that we still line up interviews for #2 and #3. The client was reluctant to do that and scheduled a second and a third interview for candidate #1. At the end of the third interview, they were so excited, they not only made a verbal offer but also handed him the letter to go with it.

I think you can guess the end of this story. Our candidate turned them down. He committed the mortal sin of accepting a counter- offer from his current employer. (He obviously didn’t read our August newsletter on what a no-no this really is!) And, during the time the company was interviewing (read “courting! “) their top choice, candidates #2 and #3 totally lost interest in the company and took other positions. Could this have been avoided? You bet!

A Confusing Process

The hiring process can be confusing. You have to juggle a lot of balls. Scheduling first, second and third interviews, making follow up calls on your candidates, checking in with your recruiter or just plain remembering which candidate is which can be confusing!

So, here’s one suggestion that might help you change the way you think about your hiring. Think of the hiring process as the sales cycle. That’s right!


What would you say if your #1 salesperson came into your office and told you that it looked like his biggest prospect was finally going to sign a contract with you. It wasn’t signed yet — but all systems looked like a go! He had met with them three times and the prospect indicated they were really interested in buying. So, instead of doing any prospecting today, or making sales calls on any other prospects, he was going to spend the day in the Marketing Department helping them write that new brochure. Well, we know what you’d say!

Keep Selling!

Remember, when you’re hiring, no matter what the economic climate or how “hot” your market or technology is, you are SELLING your company to a prospective employee. And, you don’t stop selling until the deal is done! You don’t stop any of your other hiring activities until your best prospect (your #1 Candidate) says yes and signs the deal!

More Prospects in the Pipeline — More Potential Hires

Until the time you get a signed offer letter, continue ALL of your other hiring activities — interviewing and even prospecting for more candidates. This additional activity will also serve you well if, for some reason, your hire doesn’t work out. If you have to restart your search, you won’t be starting at square one!

You don’t want to be slam dunked. So, remember Larry Bird and that determined Celtic team and remember too, “It ain’t over till it’s over!”

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