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Hire Salespeople Better Than Yourself is Smart Hiring

by Drayton Bird

I confess: this is not my idea. I have no idea who came up with it.

But I know my old boss David Ogilvy’s dictum, “If we hire people better than ourselves will become a company of giants; if we hire people worse, we will become a company of dwarves.”

However, David (like a lot of good people) had no qualms in stealing stuff.

Nevertheless it is a natural failing – through insecurity, I guess – to hire people that aren’t as smart as we are. That way we feel less threatened.
But I can think of more than one occasion when I have taken on people who I thought better than me in some way. One was Brian Thomas who came into our Covent Garden offices in 1980 and said “Do you have any jobs?”

I asked why he had come in. He said, “I’ve been reading your house ads, and you sound like the kind of people I’d like to work for.”
(Hint: remember that your ads are certainly read more by your staff than by prospects, and also by possible employees.)
I spent ten minutes talking to Brian and realised he knew more about the mail order business than I did, so we hired him. Within a year he was the managing director (I couldn’t run a fruit stall).

More recently I hired my current partner, who certainly has a better analytical mind than I do – as indeed she should, being a Doctor of Philosophy.)

So remember, try not to be daunted by clever people; you’re a lot better off hiring them than trying to do everything yourself.



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