What does finding salespeople today, who can sell, have to do with Rudy?

In the movie, Rudy, a true and inspiring tory about Daniel “Rudy” Ruettiger, a boy hears from most everyone, including those who love him, that he is too small to play college football. Yet, he has a dream, an ambition to graduate and play for Notre Dame, one of the most heralded colleges in the country. And, despite his lack of size, strength, speed and ability he does.

As we watch, one of the “gifted” players, Jamie O’Hara, complains about Rudy and his toughness and tenacity and his will-not-quit attitude during practice – a day of drills in which despite being pushed around and run over, Rudy keeps getting knocked down and only to get back up again and make the starters keep giving their best. Here’s how the conversation goes between Jamie and Notre Dame’s coach Ara Parseghian.

Jaime O’Hara: It’s the last practice of the season and this asshole thinks it’s the Super Bowl!

Ara Parseghian: You just summed up your entire sorry career here in one sentence! If you had a tenth of the heart of Ruettiger, you’d have made All-American by now! As it is, you just went from third team to the scout team! Go on get out of here!

The scene help us see how we miss an important factor when making hiring selections today – The Rudy Factor. When someone has “it,” conscientiousness with passion and motivation toward what they do, they can over-achieve.

Think about this. Do you want the talented and lazy person to work for you and represent your brand? Or, would you rather have someone with less upside but with heart and tenacity. Someone who will put in the extra hours. Someone who will not quit. Someone who is coachable, responsible and a hard worker. Someone clients trust.

In today’s high-employment economy, the best hiring managers are looking for any tool or strategy to find and select people who can sell. But most of the good salespeople are already selling for someone. As a result, recruiters are faced with lots of candidates who have a low to moderate personality match when compared with studies of higher performing salespeople. Their personalities, when tested by a validated profile, show that they will be stressed in doing some of the sales tasks required of strong and consistent beyond quota achievers (like cold-calling or prospecting).

That’s why a validated personality assessment should be used as only one determining factor when selecting someone for a sales position. The best profiles have a validity coefficient between .20 and .40. What this means to hiring managers is that there are other factors like conscientiousness (industriousness, passion and motivation to reach goals) which determine success when selling. The bell-shaped curve of candidates produced from testing compared to the bell-shaped curve of a sales team (low to high producers) may have mid-level or top performers on it who have the Rudy Factor and who score low or moderate on a sales assessment and yet still perform at high levels.

With today’s tough recruiting environment, many candidate pools contain people not quite gifted with personalities that match top performing salespeople. Because of this it’s important not to discard someone who can win a place on the team.

You may ask, “How do you find the Rudy Factor?” Here are five ways:

  1. Disperse work samples throughout the hiring process.
  2. Take notice of candidates who are late or arrive on time.
  3. Watch how fast they respond to emails and requests.
  4. Look for the need to compete throughout their life (competitive drive). Ask about and look for evidence of strong motivation either for competitive reasons or a need for money to fund life choices.
  5. In structured applications and interviews, and with anchored and layered questions, work to uncover examples of honesty, work ethic, personal responsibility and a concern for others.

Using these types of tools, uncovers valid reasons to give a candidate a chance to stand out even if a sales assessment measures his personality as having a low or moderate compatibility.

Finally, remember this. Don’t hire people just because they test high in compatibility testing for a sales personality. That’s because the character traits above are non-negotiable. Some people are dishonest, selfish or do not want to work to achieve goals. Personality testing, while important, does not tell the whole story about someone.

Rudy will always make less mature, less conscientious and unmotivated candidates look like bad choices, and sometimes he can out hustle even the best you’ve got and win a place on the team.

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