You Can’t Always Get What You Want

In the summer of 2000, a Boston-based, $240,000,000 software technology company was looking for a Regional Sales Director. They were a “hot” local company with a very good reputation for their products and their company culture. But, the market for top software talent was not great and they were having more trouble than expected finding the right person. The position was vacant for much longer than they would have liked. And that was starting to constrain their growth in that region.

Finally, accepting the council of a wise recruiter, they decided to “expand their horizon” and look at candidates who did not have a software background. Rather, they would look for a proven track record of sales management success. In a relatively short amount of time, they identified a candidate who came from the electronics and semi-conductor industry. With a solid track record of sales management success, he was enthusiastically hired.

The rest of the story is one of unqualified success. During his tenure, he rose up through the sales ranks to the Vice President level. He hired, literally, hundreds of salespeople, many of whom still consider him the best sales manager they ever had. He started three major verticals for the company. And when he left, 14 years later, his current and former divisions were responsible for $350M of their $1.2B in sales. All this from an electronics guy!


If positions in your company are open longer than you would like and you haven’t hit the “refresh” button on your approach to hiring, here are some suggestions to get you comfortable being “out of the box.”

  • BE FLEXIBLE ON REQUIREMENTS – There are many companies with very strict hiring requirements. For some, that is essential. For example, if you are selling a highly intricate, technical piece of equipment into the aerospace industry, you need a certain expertise, possibly someone with a mechanical engineering degree. I won’t argue with that. But, for many companies, what they are selling is just not as technical as they might think. By agreeing to consider salespeople, or a sales manager outside of their industry, they vastly increase their chances of hiring in a timely way. In the software industry, the learning curve for most solutions is just a few weeks.
  • LOOK IN-HOUSE – Sometimes the right person for the job is already in your organization. For example, if you’re looking for a salesperson, you might want to consider someone who is on your Customer Service or Client Success team. These valuable employees are already interfacing with your customers and many times they are “upselling” as part of their job. Customer Service, Client Success and Account Management positions are a natural “bench” for your sales group.
  • EXPAND YOUR NETWORK – Posting a job on your website doesn’t necessarily drive the right candidate to your inbox. Increase the odds of finding the right person by posting it to your industry groups and on job boards. Besides your regular cadre of providers, use recruiters who are outside of your industry who will possibly have a whole new “batch” of candidates for you to consider.
  • SEIZE THE MOMENT WHEN IT COMES – Once you find a possible fit for your job, be sure to fast-track the process. Have your team ready to interview and be prepared to make a compelling offer made in a timely way. Remember, your candidate may have multiple options, so act fast!


And while you do all of this, remember one of my all-time favorite songs, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.” Because what it says is true . . . .

You can’t always get what you want
But if you try sometimes, well, you just might find
You get what you need

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