Sales is the one discipline that earns what they are worth. That is why our vetting includes the question, “What have you earned the past couple of years?”
Some candidates ask, why is that relevant?
Sales people price themselves in the market by what they actual earn, not what they think they are worth. It’s hard to negotiate a higher guarantee when you’ve earned 80k with commissions last year and you are asking for a 95k base salary…
Often, candidates say “I will disclose my earnings when I get an offer…”. It just doesn’t work like that. Hiring managers and recruiters both need to know past earnings to determine if candidates are in the price range to see if they need to keep looking for candidates. Many of our clients ask for proof of earnings before making an offer as well.
Candidates are fearful that their past income will be too high, or too low to be considered. Often they say, “Well I earned $80000 base salary while I was working at ABC Company. I feel that is what I’m worth.”
Just as in selling a house, you get only what someone will pay for the house, not what you think it’s worth. AND, if you’ve already left ABC Company and are currently unemployed, someone may offer you $65000 because it’s $65000 more than you are earning now!
In many cases, companies want to see proof of a candidate’s talents before moving them up in pay. Starting over sometimes means just that…you must prove yourself again somewhere else, in their systems and processes before higher earnings happen.
Recruiters qualify on compensation early in process before moving forward, to save our client’s time and ours. When there is hesitation to confidentially disclose what a candidate is earning, we move on to the candidates who understand that it’s an adventure, no guarantees.
Lastly, do you think most salespeople would rather have a 100k base salary with the ability to earn another 100K in commissions or a 120k base with ability to earn another 50k in commissions? MOST would want the 120k guarantee and settle for another 50k in commissions…
Hunters with confidence will normally accept the challenge of higher variable earnings. More often than not in our negotiations the base salary is still focused on as the most highly negotiated number of a job offer.
Best of luck and good selling!
In your company, are the sales people all compensated equally?
I often hear that, “we offer consistent compensation to level the playing field as we don’t want our people to find others on the team are earning a higher base salary and commission opportunity. We want to avoid turnover in the sales division.”
Typically, that kind of statement comes from a manager who may or may not have been in the sales trenches themselves for very long.
We’ll, guess what? The stars WILL LEAVE without an opportunity to earn high commissions and receive star treatment. After all, isn’t it all about RESULTS?
Actually being respected, gaining recognition and having “unlimited opportunity” are what most producers want. Compensation is a given.
However, motivation is the key to sales accomplishments and if your people aren’t motivated properly you are inviting turn-over, low earnings and morale.
Progressive sales companies seem to understand each individual salesperson’s needs are different. Few join a company at the same level as the rest. Some new sales people need extensive training and others seem to get it faster.
Should the fast-learners be held back to make it fair?
When trying to set goals that will motivate each individual, take this into consideration:
- What has the sales person earned in their past?
- What type customers have they developed in the past? Retail? OEM’s? Wholesale? Fortune 500? long cycle/short cycle?
- How important is opening new doors in your requirements?
ALSO, when setting up sales goals for the team, you may actually de-motivate them if you don’t shoot high enough or set the bar too high…
Why do sales incentives work?
Because as a rule, sales people are motivated by peer pressure more than sales managers. Hopefully your environment is friendly-competitive so you can post results and individual performers will self motivate in a competing atmosphere that rewards results.
Try to keep your stars, create new challenges for them to grow. We occasionally discover companies who seem to be growing quickly and demonstrate excellent customer service.
We like a “home run bonus” of sorts that will keep everyone working through the end of year.
Call me if you’d like ideas on creating comp plans that work.
Sales hiring managers are listening for good storytellers as they know customers will be listening as well. Storytelling is a recognized skill and top sellers have mastered it for their benefit.
I’ve read that people retain 65 to 70% of information shared via a story versus only 5 to 10% of information conveyed through statistics.
Storytellers are natural-born sellers as storytelling isn’t normally taught in sales training seminars or systems. Storytelling has a much stronger emotional impact than information that’s presented quantitatively.
Michael Bosworth, Author of Solution Selling and Customer Centric Selling, believes it’s a right brain-left brain thing.
This excerpt is from his interview with Geoffrey James on cbsnews.com:
…Neuroscience tells us that the left side of the brain is always looking for a right or wrong answer as it doesn’t tolerate shades of gray. It tends to be analytical, linear and skeptical and emotionally neutral. It also gets “paralysis by analysis” because it can never get enough information to make what it feels will be an entirely correct decision. By contrast, the right side is creative and imaginative. The ‘big picture’ right side interacts with the feeling power of the limbic or emotional brain. The emotional brain is where the ‘aha’ moments happen.
Stories appeal immediately to the right side of the brain. As soon as somebody hears “I’d like to tell you a story about the time…” the listener relaxes and knows that no decisions need to be made immediately, but instead all that’s needed is to go along for the ride and listen for what might be important in the future. When it IS time to make a decision, the right side of the brain (which actually makes the decision) draws upon the stories it’s heard in order to judge whether or not a decision makes sense. The story can actually engulf the listener and the teller. The connection during the story can remain between the two people after the story is over, leaving top sales reps with a connection that others can’t achieve.
Bosworth also says… the first step is to learn to adopt the same style of storytelling in business that you use in your personal life. Top sales reps are always naturally good at this. Top sales reps are also willing to share themselves as humans, not supermen. Buyers are human and so many sales people feel they have to be ‘perfect’. That isn’t reality, and top sales people understand that.
Remember, the best storyteller could be that next sales star you’re searching for!
Enjoy the rest of the summer and call if you need some storytellers on your sales team today.
Yes it’s true. What used to be a 43 day time period of a start to finish executive level search has evolved unfortunately into a 90-120 day much longer time period. This is not good news for recruiting firms.
In the last year we’ve been unable to generate enough urgency for clients to move, even after they’ve picked out a stellar candidate. This is mostly due to processes that require every executive in the company to sign off on a candidate.
We just worked a search for a major non-profit who wanted a consensus of 11 people before they made an offer. REALLY??? Eleven people cannot agree on anything.
My warning to Corporate America is that if you want the top talent you say you desire… then you had best speed up your hiring processes. The current environment just will not support a long hiring process. The candidate will always assume the hiring company doesn’t care about them if it takes nearly a month to communicate back to them after a positive final interview. By that point, most have moved on as candidates have more choices now than ever.
A slow process allows your competitors to find the talent you are putting off because while you attend to other more important matters, your potential candidates are having fun shopping around your industry for a better offer.
Recruiting firms I talk with are busy right now, but doing busy work that pushes cash flow beyond limits. Most search firms need boatloads of cash to support slow processes. We also must have a large inventory of searches so the faster clients get attention and we get to keep the doors open.
The most frustrating action during the process is when hiringmanagers and HR are not on the same page. Communication is spotty, inaccurate and changes frequently. Every change makes the recruiting firm have to re-start the search which creates further delays.
Recruiting is a collaborative effort that needs everyone’s buy-in that is involved. It is the ultimate team sport. If you do your part, we’ll do ours for mutual success.
We are as excited about the warmer weather like anyone, but we think it’s time to get back to work…
Best of luck to all in their sales hiring and here’s hoping you find the talent you want!
When evaluating your sales, there are just a few questions to think about before you run that first posting or ask recruiters to assist.
Before you generate questions to ask sales candidates and managers, please review some thoughts to evaluate yourself as a sales company.
Top producing sales people are drawn to companies that have a “sales mentality”. That is, they are rewarded for sales performance, not punished.
Also, when recruiting top sales pros, there are certain companies that are known for sales “training grounds” that I look for. Companies like IBM, Xerox, Cintas, all have extensive training programs and drive their business through sales hiring and training. Where they come from is a consideration. Top VP of Sales candidates are cultured from those environments. While going through a Xerox training is great, working at Xerox in an environment of inner daily competition is better.
Examples of sales rewards:
An unannounced gift, prize or just recognition in front of peers for contributions above and beyond the call of duty will demonstrate appreciation.
For example, an account executive spent extra time with a client for non-revenue producing activity on a weekend.
Send him/her and their spouse to dinner for a special effort. Get the family involved and make the rep proud of the company he/she sweats for.
Have ongoing salesperson of the month contests. Small companies can name quarterly contributors if they have a long sales cycle, but put something out there continuously. Top companies motivate weekly, monthly or quarterly. Sales trips, trophies, cash, and clothing contests all motivate someone. It is sometimes difficult to monitor the exact affect, but most growth companies are using sales incentives.
Constantly recognize managers who re-sell their troops on the company products and services. A kind word of recognition goes a long way to show appreciation. Everyone knows you didn’t have to recognize the effort… but as part of their model, great sales organizations do.
Take this basic example. The CEO of a construction company who builds commercial facilities for health care organizations is the founder. He grew up with a hammer in his hand, measuring and re-measuring, and berating vendors who don’t do it right the first time. He exudes good workmanship and is known for quality, seldom getting complaints. His customers are aware of his quality and they “find” him.
Salespeople don’t have to do much arm-twisting to make sales. If salespeople mention the wrong material used, if they miss-communicate delivery dates, or promise extras that can’t be delivered, the owner is irate. Sales people are not highly paid because the owner doesn’t recognize sales effort, as his houses“sell themselves”.
“Your growth has stalled because you’ve reached a level where prospecting daily for new business is essential. Your company needs to be sales driven to grow. Examine your culture and let’s put some new processes in place,” I stressed to the owner.
He’s convinced sales people are out to get him and bankrupt his company. “I’m not giving them higher commissions” he says, “they just take walk-in orders because our quality sells the home.”
My response was, “Then why are we talking?”
Every time I contact a candidate for a client company they say “who is the company you are working with on the search?” After I tell them they say, “Oh, great, I know someone over there. They will give me a good reference. ” Then… I cringe.
WHY…when it’s great to have a mutual party that knows a prospective candidate so you don’t make a hiring mistake?
Because in the 16 years we’ve been in business I have seldom received a good reference from someone who has worked with one of our potential candidates in the past. We’ve been analyzing this issue and would love to hear from anyone with more information on the subject.
It seems that most internal references for a candidate they’ve worked with in the past were peripheral relationships. They said hello in the hallway, or worked in a different department or even a different territory and only saw the candidate at corporate functions.
In almost every situation the internal reference was not involved in the management of the candidate previously or had access to their achievements but knew them on a personal level and not usually very well. It was a casual relationship and the internal reference felt the candidate wouldn’t fit the new employer.
Was it because the candidate knew the internal reference and probably would bring bad information concerning their performance if hired? Was it because they just couldn’t say, “I didn’t have any involvement with the candidate in their previous work role so I really shouldn’t comment?”
Again, any feedback based on your experience is appreciated.
No Candidate Fee Offered:
If anyone is in need of an established sales manager and trainer type in the Cincinnati market just call and I’ll forward a resume of someone known to us as a top performer. The candidate is strong at personal selling and training as well as strategic planning.
As we wrap up our searches for 2014, we wanted to share a few inspiring words with our readers to ring in the new year.
One of the most inspirational people to have lived, Zig Ziglar left a deep impression on millions of people during the course of his life. He was called the “Master of Motivation,” “One of America’s Icons,” “The Salesman’s Salesman,” and “A legacy that will forever impact our history.” Before his passing, his message through his 86 years of life emphasized the ability to achieve success through a combination of character, attitude and skills.
And he was said to have impacted more than a quarter billion people. A quarter billion people.
Is that a legacy, or what?
In tribute to his amazing influence on all entrepreneurs in a staggering variety of business and nonprofit ventures, I wanted to share Zig Ziglar quotes that have the power to change your life.
Zig’s Five Keys to Motivation
1. We can’t graduate in self-motivation. It’s like eating; we can’t graduate in eating. We need to continue to make choices about what level of self-motivation we want to maintain.
2. The likelihood of motivating yourself is greatly increased with positive relationships. Positive relationships create a feeling of closeness and become a source of strength.
3. To succeed in selling, use emotion and logic in your sales presentation. Logic makes people think; emotion makes them act. If you use only logic, you’ll end up with the best-educated prospect in town. If you use only emotion, you’ll end up with a canceled order. Balance these keys and you’ll sell more.
4. If you feed your mind with positive thoughts and are selective about the things you choose to read, look at, or listen to, then you are taking effective action against negative thinking.
5. Success is measured not by what you’ve done compared to others but by what you’re capable of doing.
Other notable quotes from Zig…
- You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.
- There is no traffic jam on the extra mile.
- Money can buy you the best mattress in the world, but it can’t buy you a good night’s sleep.
- Don’t be distracted by criticism. The only taste of success some people have is when they take a bite out of you.
- If you go looking for a friend, you’re going to find they’re very scarce. If you go out to be a friend, you’ll find them everywhere.
- The tougher you are on yourself, the easier life will be on you.
- You must be before you can do, and you must do before you can have.
- It is your attitude, not your aptitude, that determines your altitude.
- Failure is an event, not a person.
- You can have everything in life you want if you will help enough other people get what they want.
It’s All About Hiring
Steve Jobs: Hiring the Best Is Your Most Important Task
Excerpts from In the Company of Giants: Candid Conversations with the Visionaries of the Digital World
The story of Steve Jobs is the story of a young college dropout who sojourned to India in search of purity and enlightenment, returned to the U.S., and founded Apple Computer. Was dabbling with Hinduism the key to success for a 20-year-old with little money and a modest technical background?
Perhaps. High school buddy Steve Wozniak—by all accounts a brilliant tinkerer and engineer—and Jobs collaborated on several “projects” during their adolescence, including hacking into phone company networks and making video games. Yet, over time, their individual responsibilities remained well-defined: Wozniak mainly designed and built the product, and Jobs scrambled to find the customers, coworkers, and components. Eventually the projects became of value to others and Jobs persuaded Wozniak in 1976 to devote his energy to a partnership—Apple Computer.
What talent do you think you consistently brought to Apple and bring to NeXT and Pixar?
I think that I’ve consistently figured out who really smart people were to hang around with. No major work that I have been involved with has been work that can be done by a single person or two people, or even three or four people. Some people can do one thing magnificently, like Michelangelo, and others make things like semiconductors or build 747 airplanes—that type of work requires legions of people. In order to do things well, that can’t be done by one person, you must find extraordinary people.
The key observation is that, in most things in life, the dynamic range between average quality and the best quality is, at most, two-to-one. For example, if you were in New York and compared the best taxi to an average taxi, you might get there 20 percent faster. In terms of computers, the best PC is perhaps 30 percent better than the average PC. There is not that much difference in magnitude. Rarely you find a difference of two-to-one. Pick anything.
But, in the field that I was interested in—originally, hardware design—I noticed that the dynamic range between what an average person could accomplish and what the best person could accomplish was 50 or 100 to 1. Given that, you’re well advised to go after the cream of the cream. That’s what we’ve done. You can then build a team that pursues the A+ players. A small team of A+ players can run circles around a giant team of B and C players. That’s what I’ve tried to do.
So you think your talent is in recruiting?
It’s not just recruiting. After recruiting, it’s building an environment that makes people feel they are surrounded by equally talented people and their work is bigger than they are. The feeling that the work will have tremendous influence and is part of a strong, clear vision—all those things. Recruiting usually requires more than you alone can do, so I’ve found that collaborative recruiting and having a culture that recruits the A players is the best way. Any interviewee will speak with at least a dozen people in several areas of this company, not just those in the area that he would work in. That way a lot of your A employees get broad exposure to the company, and—by having a company culture that supports them if they feel strongly enough—the current employees can veto a candidate.
That seems very time-consuming.
Yes, it is. We’ve interviewed people where nine out of ten employees thought the candidate was terrific, one employee really had a problem with the candidate, and therefore we didn’t hire him. The process is very hard, very time-consuming, and can lead to real problems if not managed right. But it’s a very good way, all in all.
Yet, in a typical startup, a manager may not always have the time to spend recruiting other people.
I disagree totally. I think it’s the most important job. Assume you’re by yourself in a startup and you want a partner. You’d take a lot of time finding the partner, right? He would be half of your company. Why should you take any less time finding a third of your company or a fourth of your company or a fifth of your company? When you’re in a startup, the first ten people will determine whether the company succeeds or not. Each is 10 percent of the company. So why wouldn’t you take as much time as necessary to find all the A players? If three were not so great, why would you want a company where 30 percent of your people are not so great? A small company depends on great people much more than a big company does.
Reprinted from In the Company of Giants: Candid Conversations with the Visionaries of the Digital World
by Rama Dev Jager and Rafael Ortiz
Copyright 1997 by Rama Dev Jager and Rafael Ortiz
Reprinted by permission of The McGraw-Hill Cos. Inc. All rights reserved.
Remember, if you need assistance in your search for sales talent, The McCandlish Group will help you hire the best… call us.
When you post your job opening, you’ll likely end up with numerous candidates who will not be qualified for your requirements. Before you go through the qualified applications, make up a list of your desired qualifications (over and above the minimum requirements from the job opening) and use the list to prioritize the applications.
Prepare Questions in Advance
Write out and use the same set of questions at each interview. It’s best to look at each candidate based on the same type of information. You may wish to add a few customized questions for some of your candidates, but the core set of questions should be the same for everyone.
Appearance doesn’t mean looks, but includes aspects such as clothing choices. demeanor and body language. Someone who’s applying for a sales position should be spot-on in all of these categories. They should dress and act in a professional manner.
Sell Yourself and Your Company
Regardless of the state of the job market, sales superstars usually have their choice of positions. You’ll need to do a bit of selling to convince such a candidate to work for you. Prepare some information about the company in general, as well as the sales team and position you’re hiring for.
Take it Away
When you interview a salesperson, you’re giving them a chance to show you how they sell a product: in this case, themselves. Don’t hesitate to make them work for it a little. Throw a few objections their way, such as acting skeptical about something the candidate has said and see how they react.
It’s OK to say “I’m not sure this is a match, good luck to you.”
Sales stars really start selling when the client says no. This is when the real interview begins, as he can now assess how the candidate responds to objections.
Let’s look at this from the employee’s perspective. There’s a point where staying too long at one place can raise questions about how they will adapt to new environments. Typically that is between 5-15 years.
The concern is that the employee will be stuck in the company’s systems and processes and lack exposure to a wider variety of practices and cultures, thus won’t adapt easily. Therefore anything the employee can do to demonstrate that’s not the case—is helpful. The ability to show a progression in responsibilities and job titles is also helpful. Additionally, if the employee can demonstrate that they are flexible and open to change, their chances for moving up will improve.
The employee needs to understand that future employers may have these potential concerns. They must communicate that they have moved up within the company and handled different assignments to diminish these concerns. However, this is limited in scope.
Among these few examples, sales executives will move when:
- Whoever is supporting their efforts is not fulfilling delivery of products or services by the deadline. It may be that within manufacturing, the plant isn’t getting their orders out on time with accuracy, or possible software updates promised to prospects aren’t happening and even administration lacks follow up.
- There are base salary or commission cutbacks in a healthy economy.
- There are ineffective managers who may have conflicts working with their direct reports.
HOW do you stop this from happening?
Don’t over hire sales executives without shoring up production issues. Too many sales people running around and complaining that they are not earning commission checks due to support problems will create undue havoc.
Also, don’t cut territories or reduce the sales person’s territory without proper explanation and mutual understanding of the reason. If the cut can be communicated as a benefit like less drive time or flight hours then the rep may be fine with it.
Also, you’ve heard of the “one bad apple” saying. When even just one person is dissatisfied and blames support functions and people in those roles, it is contagious. One or two issues become three or four and then everyone is talking about it. This is NOT what you want.
When things do become smoother and you find yourself in need to hire sales talent, The McCandlish Group can help. Don’t hesitate to CALL US!!! We work around the clock to find the best hire for you!
GOOD NEWS! Companies are hiring sales people again…
Not so GOOD NEWS, it’s harder to find them.
Many managers are agreeing that this is the toughest hiring market in 10 years. The time to hire metric is expanding beyond a comfortable time frame.
Some ask, how can this be since our national unemployment rate is still above 7 percent? Many labor economists believe that the true unemployment rate for candidates with a Bachelor of Science Degree and more than two or three years of experience is actually 3.5 percent. This number is even lower in industries that are growing and rapidly evolving.
Sales performers have many more choices in today’s market. Just last year McCandlish Group provided three to five candidates for each position within ten days and most searches were completed at that stage.
Candidates are taking advantage of this situation in different ways:
- By accepting a position, then leaving after only the first few weeks due to accepting another offer from a past interview that came in late.
- Candidate pools are drastically reduced before the end of process. Most companies have long interview processes and hiring managers are struggling to keep good candidates in play. When this happens it drags the process out further.
- Candidates are negotiating better compensation packages upon recognizing supply and demand.
So, how does one respond to current market conditions that strongly favor sales candidates?
- Consider a shorter interview process. No one is suggesting a snap decision or bad hire, simply make hiring more of a priority. Find ways to streamline process. Could you review, qualify, or schedule the first call any faster? Having resumes in house but not reviewed may provide a false sense of the quality and quantity of potential candidates.
- Emphasize the urgency to respond to viable candidates with your hiring managers. Delays can often happen among field managers with personal sales goals that are not compensated to secure an interview.
- Ensure that your job requirements are consistent with what you are truly are looking for. Does the position REALLY need someone with a bachelor’s degree?
- Revise job descriptions that focus heavily on your company or its presence in the marketplace. Advertising your company or to hire a candidate require two very different strategies. Hiring is about the talent—their needs and their opportunities for growth. Remember, “better” is in the eye of the beholder. Be careful not to confuse corporate branding with an appropriate sales approach necessary to attract and secure the right talent.
- Deliver a consistent elevator speech to candidates. Prior to interviewing, discuss with your team the importance of providing a clear, brief message or commercial about your company to anyone they interview. This includes who you are as a business and why someone would want to work with your company.
- Ask your hired talent how you could have done a better job in their hiring process. Those that have experienced your interview process can provide some of the best insights; you may be surprised what you hear.
Although the selection for qualified candidates may be reduced and candidates have more choices than ever, implementing these tips will help your business attract the right hire. The McCandlish Group is the expert in recruiting for these positions and has the resources to find those quality candidates fast. We won’t stop working until you have the perfect fit for your company.
In our industry, and most likely yours as well, qualifying new clients is where the sale starts.
Prospective clients know why you are asking pointed questions before starting a working relationship. This process seems analogous to fishing and throwing the little ones back in.
The process should begin with targeting clients you know to be profitable and responsive. Are they going to appreciate your work and pay you timely? Some sales people say I can stand not being appreciated, but pay me. I like both.
The danger of not qualifying a prospect is huge, impacting two important things in business—time and money. Can you think of anything worse than closing a deal and realizing that it cost you more money than it made?
It is critical for sales reps to ask the right qualifying questions when first talking to prospects. Too often, sales reps are so focused on presenting their sales pitch that they end up doing way too much talking and not nearly enough listening. Knowing which questions to ask—and what specific answers to look out for—is the key to qualifying prospects and getting them to the next stage.
“How” Process Questions
These questions should still be kept as simple and basic as possible, but you should try to ask a ‘how’ question to get your prospect to open up and do more of the talking, giving you information that you can utilize to your advantage. The first type of qualifying question is usually a ‘how’ question about their selling process.
Pain Point Questions
Your next type of question should be ‘why’ questions about the specific process you’re trying to gain insight into and why that process is or is not working. However, you should avoid putting words in the prospect’s mouth and don’t try to diagnose their problem at this point. When you recognize their pain can be cured by your product or service, you are starting to gain control.
Budget and Time Frame Questions
After you’ve gotten your prospect to open up about their pain points, your next step should be to ask if it’s a problem they have tried to fix and “how”. Asking a prospect if they have ever looked into a specific solution tends to incite more open-ended ‘why’ and ‘how’ questions. Your goal is to either qualify the prospect and progress them along to the next stage or get a poor match out of your sales pipeline as early as possible.
Once you’ve gotten enough information to either qualify or disqualify the prospect, your next step is getting them to the closing stage. Briefly describe how your product or service can solve their problem, schedule demo’s or future meetings if you are moving forward. Send any contractual agreements for review and get started.
If they don’t meet your qualifications for a good client tell them goodbye and best of luck.
Remember, when you take on a new client, you’ll be spending large amounts of time with them. Qualifying makes the process enjoyable and profitable for both parties.
What’s more important… a variety of selling skills and personalities on your team or having one cultural match for all?
Some say BOTH, but from our sales hiring experiences, most of our clients look first for the cultural match.
The smaller your business the more likely you are an expert in your field, so transferring those skills to new employees is relatively easy. But you can’t train enthusiasm, a solid work ethic, and great interpersonal skills—and we feel those traits matter more than skills candidates bring.
People don’t tend to fail for a lack of technical skills, but most don’t make it because they are difficult to coach or have problems with temperament, communication and emotional intelligence.
Or, better said, there is concern over a candidate without skills, but the candidate who lacks the beliefs and values you need is a much larger problem.
Hiring managers often oversell an opportunity!
Do your hiring managers represent your culture?
Are they careful not to over-sell a candidate on your company, especially when you desperately need to fill an open position and you’ve been recruiting for seemingly forever?
Good candidates come prepared and have done their homework. They possibly already know whether your company is a good fit for them.
Describe the position, your company and answer their questions. Let your natural enthusiasm show through… and let the candidate make an informed decision. But, don’t oversell.
The right candidates recognize opportunities that are ideal for them and also recognize when someone is trying to sell them on a position. If the hiring manager does all the talking, the candidate doesn’t understand how they can receive an offer when they didn’t get a chance to fully explain their strengths.
Define the intangibles you want in your employees and hire candidates who possess those qualities. Don’t compromise on a cultural fit.
We make cultural matches daily. Call me for details. 614-429-4320
One question we ask in our interview process is “What does your present, (or last) employer think of your work there?”
We want to hear what they may say to our clients. We know that hiring managers are listening for whether dissension existed with the candidate’s last employer and how the sales person handles the explanation. After all, they left the previous employer for a reason.
The hiring manager still needs to hear how professional the candidate treats the experience.
If they say, “I’ve created enough business there to make it profitable for them to keep me”… then they’re thinking about the bottom line and that’s OK.
Or, if they say, “I learned a lot from the experience and felt my career needed a fresh opportunity.” that is fine as well.
But, if they say, “Oh, I don’t care what they think because they were not good people and are not good business managers” or “I had a manager who had worked there forever, that was impossible for me to work with”… then you must dig deeper. Ask why they responded in that manner.
Do you know the company they were with? Were they actually as bad as the candidate says? They could be. JUST BECAUSE SOMEONE HAS PUT OUT A SHINGLE AND STARTED A BUSINESS DOESN’T MEAN THEY ARE REPUTABLE. Actually it can mean no one would hire them. Bad-mouthing is not good, but do some research before you dismiss a candidate who might have been honest in their assessment just find out why and determine the validity of the remark. They may just be guilty of not doing more initial homework on the employer previous to interviewing.
Some companies are known for discrepancies around paying sales commissions. Many employ mid-level managers with no management training or understanding of what makes people tick. Can you image working for someone who is paid to be a leader but lacks the skills? Does this possibly sound familiar in your own career? Of course it does.
The number one reason employees leave a company is they have some conflict with their direct report. We hear this daily. The employee is then faced with consequences of going over the manager’s head to VP level or even the CEO and facing personal career blocks from the move. Or, they move on to potentially greener pastures.
Have a sales hiring question? Email or call me to discuss and good selling!
Mike McCandlish, Founder
The Phone Interview… A quick scorecard system from The McCandlish Group
Do you set your own phone interviews? If you do not, it’s a big mistake.
You’ve taken away an opportunity to hear candidates ask for the appointment on an introductory call, something you’ll soon be asking them to do.
As a search firm specializing in sales hiring, we often suggest to client hiring managers and HR professionals that they call our submitted candidates without setting up an appointment. You can gauge their sense of urgency and enthusiasm or lack of same.
Sometimes the official setting up of an interview time removes spontaneity and thinking on their feet. Why not “surprise” them and see how they react. You’ll hear if they went to your website, researched your company, and how they adjust to your call. Often times we pick up candidate habits such as visiting happy hours or golf courses early in the day, all good information to know before a decision is made.
If the candidate doesn’t answer their phone, leave a message and see how often they check their messages. If they are communicators, it’s often, and they should call you back the same day or following morning.
The phone interviews take on new meaning when you smile to yourself and grading them on their approach. Get to know each other a bit without the visual. It’s effective.
Please do a phone interview whether they are in the same city or not. Remember the phone is for setting appointments and all salespeople need phone skills. It’s essential.
Other staff that should get involved early on the phone (saves travel, interview expenses) are technical people who have a say so, and the candidate’s direct report. Either of those interviewers can halt the process and save further time and resources if the candidate isn’t a match.
The first steps should be to qualify the candidate for compensation range, commute time, confirm job description match, review communication and set up next steps.
Keep this scorecard by the phone and keep track of their answers
Give them one point for each yes. If they get under 7 don’t see them.
- Are they enthusiastic about your opportunity?
- Do they seem smooth and prepared to ask questions?
- Would I let them schedule an appointment with me if I was a prospect of my company?
- Did I feel that they were sincere during the discussion?
- Am I looking forward to meeting with them?
- Did they close by asking for an interview?
- Are they confident/comfortable with themselves?
- Are they asking about opportunity at your company?
- Do you have to repeat yourself?
- Did they sound persuasive?
- How did you feel when you put down the phone? Were you smiling?
Remember 7 or under, goodbye.
This message is from The Sales Hiring Handbook and if you are interested in an eBook version, just email me back and I will forward one.
Email Mike for a free eBook
Is your sales search unique? It may be challenging, but there are certain processees that sales people develop that make them achievers. Many can transfer skillsets to new companies, even in new industries.
Thinking of promoting your top sales person to sales manager?
Better stop to think it through. Most sales stars would rather just do it themselves and don’t manage others as well as they sell personally.
Check this out!!!
The importance of role-playing during interviews with sales candidates by Software Advice’s COO Austin Merritt
First one there, last to leave…
Isn’t it funny how we pull for the sales person who puts in the most time? We seldom criticize that individual, even when they have a bad month or two.
Even when others are inconsistent, hard workers seem to score steadily. Have you noticed their work ethic keeps them away from meetings with management over productivity?
They are normally well respected, seldom criticized and even recognized by management for their dedication and commitment.
And…why do you suppose owners and managers champion hard workers?
Because they know the hard worker EVENTUALLY FIGURES IT OUT! No one tells them to work harder, they just instinctively know they must. They put themselves out there and take responsibility to make something happen. Hard workers are also easier to manage as they’re normally trying to work smart as well.
Hard work is necessary for top sales performance. Sales stars make it look easy when they bring orders into the office but sometimes onlookers forget the hours spent on prospecting, strategizing and follow up to get a deal closed.
There seems to be 4 categories of sales people.
1. highly motivated and competitive
2. motivated but selectively competitive
3. Not competitive; shows up on time, hits goal 50% of the time
4. There for a paycheck
This holds true when business is good and the economy is thriving. When the economy dives only the top two categories are making their numbers.
On a promotional item for our company, a Louisville Slugger small bat, I have this saying …
“If business is good, Keep Swingin’
When business is bad SWING HARDER!”
If you have an open requirement for a sales person, we’ll be working to find you a hard worker!
Hiring sales candidates out of college?
better have a great training program and patience!
In our world, hiring sales candidates with 2 to 7 years works better for retention and productivity.
I’ve read that college grads in the last 8 years have taken longer to find a career than in the past. It seems college is stressful enough and grads want to explore their options before going into a full time “grinder” type opportunity. Thus, job experiences right after college are short stays and internships.
Why take a chance on new grads without a work history?
If your training program is extensive, then you may be training for your competitor. If you can live with your retention statistics, then keep doing what you’re doing. Some companies train and others like candidates already trained as it is an expensive process. So those who do little training have a bigger budget for higher commissions to those who can ramp up quickly.
If you are keeping track, my guess is your hires that have 2-7 years experience are more productive with a better work ethic than first job types.
Our most sought after candidates are those with 2-7 years experience and 2-3 past sales positions. Sales people especially need to know their capabilities for how to prospect, present and close. Many in college who want a sales career change their mind soon after because of prospecting and rejection around it.
Who has great training? Companies who train their people to prospect daily and close often, normally 6 to 10 times monthly.
Software and industrial sales people have a longer sales cycle. Often they were originally trained by one of our favorites then went into longer sales cycles.
Xerox has always provided great training. Look for companies who have trained the sales person and kept them in a competitive environment. If sales reps receive a few days sales training then work on a small team without a sales culture, they don’t normally achieve what a Xerox alumni will. Cintas, ADP, Paychex, GK Uniform, Canon, Iron Mountain and HP all have the environments we like to draw candidates from.
If sales hiring becomes challenging in 2013 allow us a conversation about how we work.
A client called to share his story about his recent experience with office productivity. He said, “Our regular office manager took a couple weeks off sick. She has been complaining a lot lately and not feeling well.” I asked him how he replaced her for that time period and he said, “Hired a temp. And she’s great! She doesn’t complain about anything, doesn’t stop to chat and discuss what is negative with the office and the world, she just goes about doing her job. She is very productive.”
He went on to say the temp not only stayed busy, but the entire office was responding. In the past they took numerous breaks to get out of the main office, smoke, talk to each other and the mood was not conducive to completing work. Since the temp arrived, she supported each person in the office fast without conversation over little unimportant matters. The constant negativity was removed from the office by removing the bad apple who seemed to bring everyone down. His team was collaborating more often, workflow was way up and projects were being completed more timely than in the past.
From experience, if this situation happens to a sales team, it is detrimental to other sales people and those who support them. They will say, “Our prices are too high. I can’t get cooperation from production. Delivery is slow. I have 6 competitors in my territory and everyone is already working with someone.” When others keep hearing those so called complaints, they start believing it as well. As a result, sales will plummet, performers will leave, and the company will wonder why.
Hire for attitude and train for skills.
Consider what unique attribute the ultimate sales professional possess. We feel they should show concern about making profitable sales for the company. Their attitude is such that if the company wins, everyone wins. The sales leader that brings in business with adequate profit margins for themselves and their support team is what we’re after. They sell value. We are not looking for the guy who complains about the installation people who upset HIS client or even the sales person who won’t stay flexible in grey area situations. There are also many sales producers that want the company to be all things to all prospective buyers. Trying to provide services you don’t normally support can make production staff support crazy and opens opportunities for employees to drop the ball since special items or giveaways distract them from sticking to the process.
Call me if you need sales performers with better attitudes on your team!
1. Developing a 30-60-90 day plan at the initial interview!
We often run into candidates who decide to do a 30-60-90 day plan on their first face to face interview. This is normally done without discussion with our firm as candidates desire to make an impression on the interviewer in a competitive environment. They feel the effort shows creativity and differentiates them in the process.
We feel this is a mistake…
- First, it implies the candidate understands the company business model and what works for them before they have asked questions concerning how, why, where and when! How could a job candidate correctly forecast what should happen when they haven’t asked pointed questions to develop a viable plan?
- Also, since the first interview should be a fact finding mission for both candidate and company, proposing how the candidate would perform in their first 90 days is premature.
2. Being concerned over upward mobility or advancement from the original position as far as future internal promotions.
When you start discussing where the job could lead you and performance metrics to get you there, you are often asking for a short interview. The client gets concerned over motivation for the opening you are interviewing for. They need someone to fill it asap and if you aren’t going to be happy there, they will pass. Get more focused on the present opportunity and advancement takes care of itself.
Surprisingly, this is often the most critical piece of a candidate’s approach. At higher executive sales levels this is not a huge issue because high earners know you must be excited about an opportunity or you won’t be given the chance. Someone motivated for the role will outperform those who consider it a J-O-B. Additionally, companies should state exactly what they want out of their new sales person or manager. This gives the candidate a clear picture of exactly what activities are necessary for expected goal achievement. Often companies paint embellished pictures of their opportunity to earn commissions and it’s a leading cause of turnover. Instead, describe specifically how candidates are compensated and what sales numbers are necessary to reach their expected On Track Earnings.