When it comes to the MR ecosystem*- Hiring a good business development resource is really like finding a needle in a haystack. Here are couple of aspects that you could look into while interviewing:
Go to the extent of giving a written evaluation that covers, quant, reasoning and current affairs. Understanding a niche is not easy. It takes time and a lot of background preparation about the MR industry to even begin learning.
• Domain Interest
Please ask questions about candidates interests about “”Why and how people make decisions and choices”. Interest, actually PASSION- in human psychology trumps interest in Marketing Research. Ok- that was a bit extreme, but think of it- Sales reps are good at learning the first few things about your business and faking/making it through an interview process. To have a passion for understanding the human psychology -in my opinion is the basic building block to learn about research.
• Academic Excellence: At least at some point
One of my favorite questions is- What has been your favorite subject in your academic career. I am not looking for a PhD candidate, but I am looking to see if my future brand ambassador has ever set their mind and heart to learning a subject/course and excelled at it, even once. For the record- I am passionate about the MR industry and did very well at pure sciences and economics.
• Experience: B2B-B2C- MR industry Experience
Goes without saying that its next to rare to find someone with prospecting experience at an MR firm. Look for relevant experience based on what your candidate was selling. The more complex the offering is the better! I have hired people with B2C prospecting skills and they have turned out great for MR prospecting. So do not reject an application if you see only B2C prospecting experience on the resume.
• Want This Job:
Do they want another job. Or do they want this job. Did the candidate show up ahead of time? How much ahead of time?
I sometimes show up 5-10 minutes late to take an interview. Creepy as it may sound-but I try to find out what the candidate does in that time period. My favorite candidates are ones who pick up that industry journal (MRA’s is Called Alert!- which unassuming candidate would not pick that up?). We have other great magazines** and publications too. Ask them how long it took for them to reach your office. Notice how they describe their journey. Ask them about which resources were most helpful while preparing for the interview.
It takes a lot of time to build comfort, context and trust with the MR decision makers and develop some semblance of a pipeline. It is a lot easier to hide behind activity (over) reporting than to continue on the arduous journey of prospecting and buliding/progressing this pipeline. If the candidate does not have the zeal to be successful- there will be no learning – no activity-no small successes and no results.
There are several other factors. And one starts to think- at what point do we need to make a trade-off between our candidate selection criterion and someone we like. Hiring for the BD role in our industry is difficult -may I say Risky but the results can certainly be rewarding. In-fact not hiring that role may prove to be an even bigger risk.
Good luck with your candidate search, and we wish you all the best! If you would like to share the risk involved with a new hire however, please contact Aldius today. We will be happy to help you explore the possibility of a framework where you can hire, train and manage that talent to ensure they are successful.
*MR ecosystem: Phrase used by Aldius. Means all kinds of Marketing or Market research firms.
** I carry a torch for the Alert magazine- They featured a picture of me on their cover page. Encouraging all other major publications to do the same