Five Ways To Apply Chess Principles To Hiring

Chess, one of the world’s oldest and most popular games, is having a major moment. From Netflix’s The Queen’s Gambit, which drew viewers in 62 million households during the first 28 days of release, to chess experts playing on social media, chess is growing increasingly popular.

This centuries-old game of strategy and planning shares many commonalities with business—and with hiring for your sales team. Just like in chess, it’s important to understand each piece’s strengths and have a vision for how to make those pieces work together, says Dylan Glad, manager of sales performance improvement at Insperity.

Whether you play chess or not, the game outlines how and why to develop your people, develop strong sales teams and promote diversity, he says. In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we share Glad’s thoughts on how to apply chess principles when hiring exceptional sales professionals.

1. Think about your end goal. The best chess players envision the winning scenario and work backward to plan their early moves, notes Glad. When hiring for your sales team, you apply this principle by identifying skill and diversity gaps and then bringing on the right people to complete the team. While this may seem obvious, many teams find themselves without all the people to reach their desired goals.

2. Remember your competitors’ goals. Chess requires you to think about what your opponent is planning. Glad says this mindset can help you better understand your competitive differentiators. When you know how your products and services stack up against competing businesses, you can present the most compelling offer to your prospects.

3. Look for varying strengths. Everyone on your team has their own unique set of skills and abilities. Just like in chess, you can identify and build on each person’s talents to keep your organization moving forward. One of your new sales reps, for example, may have the potential to grow into a more influential role—but only if you help them develop their talents.

4. Emphasize diversity. Diverse teams are stronger and can achieve much more than teams of people who share all the same experiences and skills. In chess, no single piece aside from the queen can dominate the board, says Glad. However, working together with a well-planned strategy, the other pieces can accomplish great things. Think about how you can incorporate more diversity when hiring for your sales team.

5. Look at all the angles. When hiring for your sales team, consider various angles. For example, Glad points out that a sales rep who is calm and good at listening may not deliver the most exciting pitch to a prospective client, but this rep may have the skills you need for working with that client on a difficult or high-stakes project. Remember that in business and in chess, different people and pieces become more prominent at different phases of the game.

Playing to win at chess is a lot like hiring for your sales team. Think about the gaps you have on your team and work to bring in more diverse viewpoints. Remember to keep your competitors in mind and know that they are also likely approaching your prospective clients. When hiring, it also helps to remember how certain skill sets can be valuable at different phases of the sales process.
By keeping basic chess principles in mind, you can build a powerful sales team that sees more wins than losses.

Compiled by Audrey Sellers

Source: Dylan Glad is manager of sales performance improvement at Insperity. He has more than 25 years of experience in coaching, leadership and player development.

filed under February 2021
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