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Hire the Right Person!

The story of Uncle Raymond

The holidays always make me nostalgic and cause me to bore my family with stories of my long departed relatives. One story that is particularly connected to the work I am now doing is about my Uncle Raymond.

Raymond was my Dad's younger brother and so I heard both the adult tales of his life and those of his childhood. Raymond was the highflying devil-may-care, tall, good-looking guy that everyone wanted to be with. Loud and boisterous he epitomized the “salesman” persona. And he was successful in that role. So successful in fact that he became the president of a national insurance company at 42 years old.

Unfortunately what came with success for Raymond was not fame and comfort. Instead it was two broken marriages, addiction issues and children that were constantly in trouble. He struggled to keep his life together but one night it came crashing down on him. He drove his new Cadillac into the front yard of his big house, fell out of the car in the yard and passed out. It took paramedics and a miracle to save his life.

Some years later I had the chance to talk to Uncle Raymond about his life and the journey he had taken. I envied his sales success and his accomplishments in his career and wanted to know more about how he had been so successful. I knew about the failures but only focused on the sales success he had. I asked him how he became so good at sales. His response was unexpected and revealing.

“I sold insurance because I had a family to feed and a life style I thought I wanted. But, truth be told, I hated every minute of it!” He said, “I hated it not because the product was not good; it was good and we helped a lot of people. I hated it because I never felt that it was what I wanted to do. Sales was a path to material success but it never fit me” he said.

In his later life Uncle Raymond was again successful. He rediscovered his religious roots and became a minister. Not the fiery preacher that his larger than live personality would seem drawn too but the pastor that sits and listens to others, reassures and supports but is not the center of attention. He served as a prison Chaplin and a counselor for AA.

Now, what’s the ActionPoint™ of this story? Uncle Raymond would appear to have been the perfect hire for the insurance position. He made the company a lot of money and he served a lot of customers well. But he was not a fit for this sales job. He used all the secondary skills he could muster to be successful and in the end it almost destroyed him and his family.

Recruiting and hiring decisions have implications beyond the companies needs. We may not want to acknowledge this fact but it’s true. Raymond was hired because he fit the stereotype of a “Salesman”, not because he was a fit for the job. Today we have tools to determine fit for sales positions much more precisely than existed in Raymond’s day. Those tools can also be used to help assess entire sales organizations. It seems to me that it is our responsibility to use them to keep from repeating Raymond’s story.

ActionPoint Partners, LLC, provides selection, assessment, development and professional expertise and resources that address critical performance needs of sales organizations. For more information please go to

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