BILL LEE: Talent + Experience + Chemistry

By / 2 years ago

Making TEC an integral part of your hiring process will drive your company forward.


There are three letters all owners and managers should etch in their brains anytime a decision is made to hire a new employee. The three letters are TEC, which stand for talent, experience and chemistry.

The highest odds of success when hiring a new employee is to make sure the individual you hire possesses three characteristics: the raw talent to do the job, the experience gained from having performed a similar job before and having performed it well, and the right chemistry to fit into your organization.

For the second highest odds of success, which characteristic would you eliminate: talent, experience or chemistry?

The answer is experience. Why experience? Because it’s the only thing you can teach—talent and chemistry are innate. To test your resolve with regard to talent and chemistry, ask yourself this question: what has been your track record at changing people? Most experienced owners and managers would agree that changing people is next to impossible.

Yet, owners and managers emphasize experience first, not last. They are looking first for salespeople who already possess product knowledge and knowledge of residential construction.

So often when I interview salespeople, I learn that they have worked for multiple local building supply businesses, so it’s easy to notice that a lot of local lumber dealers recycle each other’s rejects.

As many of my readers know, I majored in psychology. Since entering the business world, I have interpreted tens of thousands of psychological assessments. If there’s anything I have confidence in, it’s the psychological test scores that produce the highest odds of sales success. Testing sales candidates is a great investment.

Which is more difficult, to teach a new salesperson how to sell or to teach a new salesperson the product knowledge to service a contractor customer? In my experience, it’s a lot harder to teach a new salesperson how to sell.

There are no shortcuts to hiring.

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Bill Lee

Bill Lee has nearly 40 years of experience in the construction supply industry. A seminar leader and consultant, he is the author of two books: Gross Margin and 30 Ways Managers Shoot Themselves in the Foot. You can reach Bill at, or 800.277.7888.