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How To Use A Scorecard To Find Your Dream Sales Gig (Scorecard Series: Part 2)
Editor’s Note: This article features a downloadable job scorecard template to help you find your dream gig! Part 1 of this series features a scorecard template for hiring managers. We hope you find both of them useful!
As someone who has had a few sales jobs over the past 20 years (and not all of them blew my socks off), I can say with confidence that it’s easy to lose sight of what’s important in the interview process when you’re scoping out a new gig.
It’s a big life decision filled with a lot of emotion. And when the chemistry is flowing, it’s hard to continue to listen to the voice of reason and stay focused on the details you need to make a well-informed decision.
For example, on one job interview I was so enamored with the product concept, the leadership team’s vision, and the strokes of my sales ego that I totally forgot to double back and discuss their true vision for an enterprise sales go to market strategy (including what kind of resources could or would be allocated to iterating on the product, the seat that sales leadership really had in the boardroom, what the runway to build the team out was, etc.).
I took the plunge, absorbed the risk, worked my tail feather off to produce results with some of the best brands, but the reality was they weren’t ready for an enterprise sales team.
And as a result, everyone involved paid the price. They ended up disbanding the entire enterprise sales team from the CRO down (OUCH).
From that day on, it was clear to me: having a system to take the emotion out of decisions like this was critical to make sure I didn’t miss deal breakers that left me spinning my wheels.
Why a scorecard is the secret weapon for finding your dream sales gig.
How can you find a gig that you’ll truly grow and thrive in without first defining specifically what that looks like?
How can you make sure that your evaluation of any given opportunity is complete without a way to systematically make sure you’ve covered every point (and haven’t missed critical ones)?
Sure you could try to keep track of it all in your head, but with such an important decision on the line, why leave it to chance when you have so many other things to keep track of in your head?
This is why having an unbiased system that is so much more than your standard “pro/con” list to evaluate your opportunity is so critical. Because when emotions get flared up, they cloud your judgement and you miss things you forget to cover because you’re acting on a belief, not facts.
According to Harvard Business Review,
“The validity or predictive power of a typical unstructured interview is around 20%.”
That means, if you’re not interviewing in a structured fashion, you only have a 1 in 5 chance of making a good choice to accept an exciting offer if you don’t have a structured system for evaluation.
That’s why my go-to solution to address all of this is a scorecard. It’s the BEST piece of advice I give and not only served me well to dodge some serious bullets, but the feedback I receive weekly on how a scorecard has helped those adopting it warms my heart.
Here’s how to create one to keep you on task and unbiased as you interview for a new gig.
Top items to include in your scorecard
To figure out what you should put on your scorecard, close your eyes for a second and visualize your ideal opportunity.
If I look 6-12 months ahead, and I’m crushing it (my goals, life, etc.), what would it look like? Why?
And even more importantly, if I was struggling and hated my life, what would it look like? Why?
Write your answers down (everything that comes to mind). And once you’ve done that, go through your list and mark each as a “must have” or “must not have”. The answers you mark are the things that should go on your scorecard and what make up your dream job.
But, you need to be very specific, otherwise it’s not going to work.
The key here is making sure you can tangibly cross reference the things your ideal role needs to have with the company you’re interviewing with (or your current assignment).
For example: saying,
“I want to work for a company that sets reasonable sales quotas” isn’t enough.
You have to know how leadership should set sales goals in the first place. Otherwise, how will you be able to know if a company really does that or not before you hire?
For reference, here’s a great list of interview questions you can use to start your preparation.
You should evaluate each company’s process for setting quotas and arrive at a quantifiable answer.
Here are a few more key specific questions to ask yourself about your ideal sales role:
When I’ve been the happiest in my job, how would I describe what that looked like and why?
What part of my job have I done the best in? Where have I really struggled?
Are there repeat patterns between jobs that have caused me angst?
If you make a move, what does a better role look like and more importantly why?
What kind of leadership have you thrived under the most?
As you’re complaining about what’s broken or you’ve had a killer month and you’re describing why, stop, listen and write all of those details down. Every detail counts!
Think about your favorite deals, best accounts etc, what does it look like to replicate that?
What kind of team do you work the best with?
Have you ever worked remotely before and do you seriously have the chops for it?
Once you have defined your answers to each of these questions (and others that are important to you), it becomes easy to evaluate the people you interview based on facts rather than assumptions. And there’s no emotion required!
Make sense? Fantastic. To make this process quicker and easier for you, here is my template you can steal, use, or build off of for each position you interview for:
Once you’ve got your scorecard, the rest is pretty simple.
For an interview, rank each category on a scale of 1-10 and calculate the average, determine your realistic threshold for a minimum acceptable score, and voila! You’ve got a clear-cut, non-emotional evaluation that you can use to easily compare job opportunities.
Scorecard implementation do’s and don’ts.
A word to the wise: this scorecard won’t be very useful if you don’t implement it correctly in addition to building it correctly. So if you want to make sure you get the most out of yours when you put it into service, here are a few do’s and don’ts to keep in mind.
DO: Get specific about what success and failure looks like for your dream gig.
I discussed how to do this above, and it is absolutely essential that you do this well if you want your scorecard to be useful.
DO: Run your scorecard by someone who is a mentor.
Having the people that care about you professionally and personally review this is a great way to make sure you’re on the right track (just make sure it’s not your current boss or fellow employees). As you get closer to making final decisions on a role that you’re strongly considering, pull your committee back in to audit in case you’ve missed anything as you’ve been talking to them about the task at hand.
DO: Keep your scorecard up to date and accurate with your current career goals.
I recommend doing this every time you hit critical mass or an intriguing new opportunity comes your way. Even if you’re not looking to make a move, being ready to evaluate any opportunity that comes your way helps you learn and constantly evaluate your career goals.
You may not end up taking it, but at least you’ll have learned something about what gets you going for the future. Or, you may find an amazing place to jump to that you might not have taken otherwise because you were “comfortable”!
Same rules apply here when it comes to describing what success looks like. Take a hard look in the rearview mirror and make a note of what you learned, what you need to stay away from in the future, and what is reality versus what is perception.
DON’T: Skip parts of the scorecard during interviews.
The beauty of the scorecard is that it helps keep you focused on the right things during the interview process. But only if you stick to it and use all of it! Make sure to get all the way through it and record your answers to compare opportunities.
DON’T: Update your scorecard for different companies or interviews mid interview process.
I put this here, because you need to have a consistent evaluation strategy for comparing different opportunities against each other. That said, if you discover something life altering, by all means adjust your scorecard accordingly. Just make sure you go back and evaluate each opportunity you’re evaluating with your changes.
DON’T: Create your scorecard in a vacuum.
No really. You need to run this by the people you trust most professionally and personally (I can’t emphasize this enough). They will help you account for any blind spots or unreasonable expectations that could leave you repeating this process all over again.
DON’T: Abandon your scorecard because you got caught up in the hype around an opportunity.
Even if it sounds “cool” or you were referred in and don’t want to let someone down, this is YOUR career. You need to own it and take charge of it.
If you do/don’t do these things, you’ll be squeezing every last ounce of performance out of your scorecard and making sure you hire the best person each time you need to fill a vacancy.
The 4 steps to take to implement your job scorecard.
I went into a lot of detail on this to break it down for anyone who wanted to see the underlying process. But in reality implementing this is pretty simple.
To recap, here’s what you need to do:
- Understand your why. Without knowing what you believe in or care about, finding a job you love is a crapshoot even with a scorecard.
- Create your scorecard. Use the template above to start from, or create your own with the process I outlined above.
- Evaluate your current gig against your “dream gig” to see if you should look around (additionally, ask yourself these questions).
- Make sure you’re entire team is using it and be sure to schedule a team debrief to discuss the scores when they interview to prevent gaps in communication.
Interested to see what companies are putting on their scorecards to get a sense for how to do the interview process better? Check out Part 1 of my Scorecard Series.
If you are already using a scorecard to find your dream sales gig, what things do you have on it and why? Drop a comment below and let us know!
Think using a scorecard could help remove some of the angst from a colleague’s interview process? Share this with them!