I have worked in many industries, consulted with even more and one thing I know for sure. Certain skill sets come in isolation and they can’t really be combined. Let’s take Market Research as an example. If you are looking for a sales person to sell market research/analysis, then you have to choose one skill set over the other.
Please don’t look for Unicorns! Having listened to many of my former colleagues looking for new opportunities, I realized that most job requirements are quite unrealistic. Of course, hiring managers take their orders from the person who is looking to fill the job, but shouldn’t there be some sanity check?
Can research people sell?
Sales people are good at selling and developing business and research people are good at analysis. Very seldom will you find somebody who can do both well.
There will always be an aspect of the qualifications that will not be met. The key is to identify what is most important to the person/company who is hiring.
If they are looking for growth, then hire somebody with a sales/business development background who understands market research/data/media. They shouldn’t have to be able to do the analysis themselves, they just need to understand the concept.
However, if you are looking for a researcher or somebody who does analysis, then look for a person with that skill set. If this person happens to have an aptitude for business growth, then maybe they can be trained to become a good seller. They will probably never be a super star, but their performance will be decent.
Unicorns can stunt a company’s growth
Looking for a unicorn can actually stunt growth. It happens all the time. I have seen it more times than I can remember.
I used to work for a big market research firm, years and years ago and they realized after a couple of years of modest revenue growth that they have to split responsibilities. Best decision they ever made.
They hired people with a strong sales acumen to sell and left the research to the people who love analyzing data.
Now, when it comes to upselling, that’s a different story. Some researchers, after having built a relationship with their clients are able to upsell, but also not all the time. It is best to always involve somebody with a sales/business development mind to meetings when it comes to growing accounts.
Not every sales person is comfortable asking for money, so trust me when I say that I have yet to meet a research person being at ease when they are tasked to introduce new services.
What about LeBron James?
To use an analogy (I love them!) – we wouldn’t ask LeBron James to be a soccer champion as well. So, why are we having these lofty asks from people who are not celebrated athletes?
And don’t get me wrong. Some people can do it all, but it’s a small percentage and it’s almost impossible to find them, because they often start their own companies.