Sales Hiring in the Current Candidate’s Market

Tuesday, March 18th, 2014

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.

Does Your Sales Team QUALIFY for Success?

Friday, December 27th, 2013

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.

Closing Questions

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.

Hiring Candidates to Match Company Culture

Thursday, September 5th, 2013

What’s more importanta 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

Is Bad Mouthing Ever Appropriate?

Friday, July 26th, 2013

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!

The Phone Interview

Wednesday, May 15th, 2013

McCandlish Minutes
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.

  1. Are they enthusiastic about your opportunity?
  2. Do they seem smooth and prepared to ask questions?
  3. Would I let them schedule an appointment with me if I was a prospect of my company?
  4. Did I feel that they were sincere during the discussion?
  5. Am I looking forward to meeting with them?
  6. Did they close by asking for an interview?
  7. Are they confident/comfortable with themselves?
  8. Are they asking about opportunity at your company?
  9. Do you have to repeat yourself?
  10. Did they sound persuasive?
  11. 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 in,last to leave.

Monday, May 13th, 2013

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?

Tuesday, March 12th, 2013

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.
Good Selling!!!!

One Bad Apple

Monday, February 11th, 2013

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!

Three Common Interview Mistakes

Monday, February 11th, 2013

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.

3. Enthusiasm!
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.


Tuesday, October 30th, 2012

I have an immedite need for sales executives from the custom research industry. We are working with the industry leader to source VP level and account executive level candidates. Work from home. If you have expertise in selling custom research to Government, Energy, Pharma, Telecom or Associations please email me your resume at

How do we differentiate true sales performers from pretenders?

Monday, October 22nd, 2012

How do we differentiate true sales performers from pretenders???

It seems every sales resume we review has superlatives describing the sales candidate’s past accomplishments. EVERYONE was Sales Person of the Month, the Quarter, the Year, the Decade, AND the history of the planet…!

Sometimes sales, as in politics, is all semantics. Possibly those sales people were the best on their team. But, perhaps it was a small team. SO, it’s up to us to ask “How many people were on your team?” Were you the best of 5? Best of 10 or maybe best of 100? Fairly basic stuff here…
Then we get more detailed.
1. What support system was in place for you to make goal?
2. Did anyone assist in RFP’s or did you do the proposals?
3. Did you actually open the account or was it inherited?
4. How long was the sales cycle?
5. How did you prospect for new business?

Our list of questions could be as many as 20-30 depending on the client’s specifications.

Lastly, do you have references to support your statements?

It’s challenging to get references from past employers. Many large companies only furnish dates of employment and title as they are concerned about litigation. When asked, our recruiters dig for information to make sure we have the right candidate. NO firm wants to do the search twice as we’d have to replace the candidate if clients ask them to leave within the guarantee period.
Additionally, we have found that hiring managers are sometimes overly skeptical about the information contained in Candidate Reference Reports. There is often the perception that a candidate can somehow skew or “game” what is being said by their references.

It has been our experience that if we speak with three or more listed business reference contacts provided by the candidate and ask open ended questions about the candidate’s personal character, their relationship to the candidate, examples of problem definition and solving ability, and goal achievement, etc., a valid picture of the candidate’s preferred work style and true ability to get things done –DOES IN FACT EMERGE.

To get an accurate picture of the individual’s accomplishments we have to ask the hard questions. Every hire is important and costly if mistakes are made.
If you wish to hear how we work, call me anytime!

What do sales stars want?

Thursday, August 30th, 2012

What do Sales Stars want?

It’s a wonderful sight to see stars on a roll and bringing in huge orders. Once those same top sellers are established and productive it is painful to lose them.

Sourcing a replacement, training, strategizing over what accounts are assigned and when to grant them is time consuming, risky and costly.

Top producers want …REALISTIC GOALS to hit for their bonus.

SUPPORT….from the production side so they can keep selling and earning commissions. Service or product delays are a motivation killer.

RECOGNITION… Since rejection is part of their day, it’s nice to be appreciated when they conquer challenging clients with patience and creativity.

What most Sales Stars DON’T want is this:

MICRO MANAGEMENT…….. This activity alone creates turnover.

CAPPED Stars look for unlimited opportunity and high earnings for the hours worked. When their commissions are capped, even a high cap, it’s psychologically restricting.

TERRITORY REDUCED OR TAKEN AWAY… Companies need to grow and gain market penetration. Be careful how it’s done when a rep brings in a large account only to be re-assigned to the National Sales Manager. If the rep is strong enough to open it, they’re probably strong enough to manage it.

Try to keep your stars, create new challenges for them to grow. It’s also ok to pay them all differently as they produce differently. VOLUME MATTERS!

We occasionally discover companies who seem to be growing quickly and demonstrate excellent customer service.
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Pros and cons of working on straight commission.

Thursday, August 30th, 2012

The pros and cons of working on straight commission as opposed to a salary and bonus plan.

We deal with this topic daily.

Sure, who doesn’t want a high base salary to show up for work? It guarantees you can pay your bills and earn additional commissions so you can put some money away.

Have you ever gone to an employer and asked what they would pay you if you just went on straight commission? Yes, just give up the salary. You may be surprised at their reaction.

There seems to be 3 schools of thought that are prevalent.

1. Pay sales people a base salary with commission and bonus opportunities.

This is done so the company can control your activities somewhat and ensure they are “buying” productive talent. The company wants you there at a certain time, and a manager normally monitors things like attendance, prospecting activity, presentation abilities, and percentage of goal. Sure, some virtual work options are available for those with appropriate talent. There still exists doubt in many employers mind about working from a home office. The preference remains to have sales teams in corporate offices for monitoring activity and synergy.

Also, the company normally makes more money on this type of comp plan, which is fair, because they guarantee a paycheck.

2. Pay sales people a low salary with higher commission opportunity.
The guarantee is low because the company wants motivated, commission oriented people. The reward comes with results. Also it seems smaller companies just aren’t able to pay big base salaries and can get more feet on the street this way.

3. Pay straight commission, possibly with a draw.
This company can allow an aggressive percentage of the sale for the sales person because the company doesn’t lose anything. Producers and the company both win.

For every sales person who makes the company money there is one who does not. This becomes expensive for the firm and challenging to make a profit. If the risk of losing money is removed, a company may pay higher commissions.

There are some advantages to this approach. Flexibility of schedule is attractive to many. Also higher commissions are possible because the company won’t lose money on you. It’s often possible to negotiate an accelerated payout for exceeding goal. If goal is one million in annual sales and the rep hits 1.5 million, the percentage on everything over 1 million is often negotiable.

Lastly, this approach is often utilized by entry level sales people to gain experience and training. Training is important so make sure you find out the particulars in the interview process.

Although I’ve worked many straight commission jobs, more people leave those for a job with a salary plus commissions than vice-versa.
Regardless of your plan, call us for sales hiring assistance.

MOTIVATION is the key!

Friday, June 15th, 2012

MOTIVATION is the key to a successful sales employment match.

SO, a fair question to ask is… How do we judge motivation levels of candidates???

Before I discuss HOW, isn’t it great to see someone who demonstrates excellence on the job?
Whatever the job is, they seem to enjoy it and their energy level and detail is very noticeable.

The person could be an automobile mechanic who advises you of every detail but doesn’t oversell you. Another example is a teacher who has the ability to motivate students to learn.

They just seem so natural…

It seems that Motivation is necessary for excellence. People who perform at high levels are born with motivation or worked hard to gain it. Either is fine. If they have the trait, they’ve learned their business and developed skills necessary for success.

Our firm evaluates motivation by the following criteria:

1. The written word and the resume :
How much detail is in the resume? Did they discuss what they sold and who they sold it to? Pretty basic stuff here but you’d be shocked at how many salespeople haven’t answered those questions, especially the specific product or service sold at a previous company.

2. Our Interview Notes:

They are comprised of 8 questions that answer why the candidate changed jobs, compensation requirements, goal achievement history and more. If the candidate doesn’t provide detail and get the document back to us timely, we know they aren’t going far in process, if we move them forward at all. Some candidates back out of the process on their own because they won’t take time to complete the form. Whatever their reasoning, we quickly qualify and they are gone.

3. Follow up:
Is it timely or do we have to chase them down? The most motivated candidates call us, email us and follow up until we connect. Candidates who fail to follow up assertively seldom get an offer. It’s hard to believe some candidates don’t send a thank you note after interviewing.

Funny how the most motivated candidate for the position normally gets an offer. They provide more detailed information, call us back promptly and have great questions for the interview and they do it with enthusiasm.
Call me if you are in need of motivated sales candidates!

How is your sales leader managing to generate new leads and motivate your team?

Friday, May 11th, 2012

How is your sales leader managing to generate leads and motivate your team?

I sold management-consulting services for a company that went from 19 employees in 1990 to 2000 in 2003. Their sales are now over 180 Million and EVERY DAY they have a sales incentive. Yes, every day. It is faxed to 500 virtual reps motivated daily to knock down doors, make presentations to business owners and have energy to be convincing while stressing urgency.

This methodology was utilized to sell more today than yesterday, more this week than last, and more this month….you get the picture. You can boot your long-term plan if you continuously sell more each month and year. It’s very much about the “short term”.

Two years in a row, the company was recognized as the top ten fastest companies in America.

They often added an incentive of $100.00 for a day with two first-call closes or a $300.00 drawing and drew names from a hat for everyone who made a sale that day.

Within this process, I was able to sell 18 consulting engagements in one week. The outbound telemarketing operation set up three leads daily for outside reps that made presentations to business owners. The sales representatives also set their own appointments but most relied on those furnished by the company.

Now, we know most sales cycles are longer than one-call close opportunities. So, in your enterprise, has the sales leader identified what key activities convert to a sale? Maybe a 30-day software trial? You can base an incentive on number of trials in a week, month or quarter. If the quarterly goal is 4 trials, then establish a team incentive of everyone who sells over 4 qualifies.

The point is this. Daily, weekly and monthly motivation is a key to making numbers. If sales people aren’t being led by incentives there’s a good chance they aren’t making goal.

Because of the need for new sales, great companies create an environment of virtually unlimited opportunity for sales people. Companies that do not recognize this are never market leaders and opportunities within their organizations are normally limited. In every business, including ours, new clients are critical and if we don’t add new clients we will stagnate and die.

Effective sales managers also post sales results for all to see. This methodology of sales motivation is one of the most productive I’ve experienced. While selling office equipment, I couldn’t wait for weekly numbers to be on the sales office wall as it motivated me beyond belief. Previously sales people were fabricating their results and posting eliminated that.

The McCandlish Group understands sales leadership and can direct you to 3-5 viable leaders within a couple weeks!

Does your interview process include a sales presentation?

Friday, May 11th, 2012

Does your interviewing process include a sales presentation from the candidate?
More and more of our clients ask sales candidates to present their past product or service before making them an offer. The setting normally includes final decision-makers.

Many presentations are not completed once it’s obvious the candidate is proficient at interactive communication and speaking in front of a group.

Except for VP level candidates, we enjoy this approach as an interview methodology. We most often submit effective communicators to clients and enjoy looking good when the candidate performs well.

Here are some ideas to consider.

1. Although many companies set the guidelines for the role play, others do not, leaving candidates without an appropriate or agreed upon starting point. This is confusing and leads to frustration and no offer.

2. Most candidates present a service they’ve sold in the past. Occasionally, in an effort to stand out, a candidate will attempt to present the potential client’s services. In 12 years in recruiting, I don’t remember a case where this strategy has ever worked out.

3. Smart and prepared presenters will have a scripted performance approach. I like a “Semi-STRUCTURED PRESENTATION” which will often begin by clarifying how the meeting was set up, whether the company responded to a cold call, internet solicitation, referral or client inquiry. The process should include the candidate’s consultative questions for some semblance of reality. This discovery process is often shortened as interviewers will provide sufficient detail to move on.

A. Candidates should provide clear, enthusiastic speaking starting with creating or re-confirming the need and gaining agreement before moving forward.
B. Once need is established, the presentation should guide the audience through benefits of acquiring the service. Keeping it interactive is often challenging for beginners but pros are normally fine.
C. Power Point is often utilized and acceptable.
D. I like a white board approach and writing key elements as you’re speaking to the group with interaction… Asking questions, letting them buy rather than “selling”.

To review top candidates for your firm, call me and I’ll send over effective presenters to interview.


Do sales people write great resumes?

Friday, May 11th, 2012

Do sales people write great resumes?
Clearly, not always.
Many of the top sales people we know are a little on the impatient side and don’t always provide details of what they’ve sold, who they sold it to and for how much. This basic information is replaced with sales activities performed at their previous employers, percentage of quota achieved and how many times they were sales person of the month.
I seldom read a sales resume that says the candidate was a mediocre performer and somewhere in the middle of the pack performance wise. Funny, huh?
For whatever reason, they feel a face to face interview will uncover their awesome communication skills. When given an opportunity to interview, they’ll stand out, they announce. Granted, sales people are communicators and that’s why they chose a sales career. I’d like to have a dollar for every sales candidate we interview that says “Just get me in front of the hiring manager and I’ll get an offer!”
Recruiters can normally tell if someone else has written their resume and we often ask. The companies who write them use a couple similar boilerplate styles. That is essentially why we obtain Interview Notes with writing sample from sales candidates for our clients. Can you imagine hiring a salesperson based on a great resume and communication later to find they don’t write well? It’s a very embarrassing situation for hiring managers and HR.
Our methodology is to call the candidate for further details. I encourage our team to use the phone, and call the candidate as we obtain more information faster than reading and the discussion may generate referrals for our clients as well. This truly doesn’t take much longer than STUDYING the resume and you hear their phone skills to evaluate energy, professionalism and motivation for the opportunity.
Exceptions to this stigma are VP and Director level candidates who know the importance of getting in the door with a detailed resume. Those candidates always respond faster to our inquiries to form relationships for long term career advisory assistance and gain understanding of the job opening.
By the way, our customized interview notes separate us from many contingency firms who flip resumes with little interview time or evaluation. The writing sample lengthens our process some, although IT TAKES LONGER it is beneficial. Clients get to see why candidates changed jobs, salary history and why the candidate is a match for their company.

What is considered “Bad Mouthing” in an interview?

Friday, May 11th, 2012

What do you consider “bad mouthing” a former employer and is it ever appropriate in an interview?
In our daily interviews, we see this scenario often.
The candidate says “I left the company because of their micro management philosophy. I couldn’t make a move that they didn’t scrutinize from changing my flight schedule to better accommodating my business travel to the way I organized my desk.”
Another candidate says, “My manager was unqualified and it was challenging working for someone not as smart as I am.”
Or, “I left the company because the manager was always negative, not supportive and unethical. The company was ok to work for but I was trapped in my division and couldn’t move up anyway, so I left because I just couldn’t be around the manager any longer.”
Actually, from working with Fortune 500 and start-ups to mid-sized companies, we know that sales candidates often can complain about everything. That could be from the factory not able to produce products for order fulfillment to managers and principles with unrealistic expectations and goals.
Therefore, since we all know the complaints are possibly real, why are we so critical when a candidate speaks the truth? Is it because many of us also manage in our day and don’t like criticism ourselves? Or is it because it just doesn’t sound good?
I’ve found an acceptable answer is “the culture wasn’t a match for me”. I’m looking for a more challenging environment personally.”
But, if asked what they didn’t like about their last employment experience, candidates try to find the right words that won’t offend the hiring manager who interprets it as “bad mouthing.”
We need to know what the candidate didn’t like about their last role to avoid a bad match for your opportunity. The sales person should absolutely discuss what they didn’t like about their previous situation. If your environment is similar to their last, then you should pass or you’ll be replacing them. Want good questions to ask? Just request a complimentary copy of the Sales Hiring Handbook and I’ll forward an eBook version one today.
Most clients are requesting finalizing before December 15th as not much happens in our industry after that. That gives us 2 weeks to identify, interview and gain accepted offers.
Good Selling!

Do your sales people listen?

Thursday, October 20th, 2011

Whenever I shop for anything including clothes, services, or technology, I mentally evaluate the sales person’s presentation and selling skills. I guess I’m always prospecting for talent for our clients.
While buying some jeans last week, I was approached by a very young, energetic sales guy at Nordstrom’s. He was new to the job. How did I know? It was evident that he was trying to MAKE A SALE instead of gaining a new, repeat client.
After I told the NEWBIE I was shopping for jeans, while I was in the dressing room trying them on, he kept bringing me jackets and shirts to try on. I wasn’t there to buy a jacket or shirt and I told him so. I did buy jeans that I thought were just ok and as I was leaving, I noticed other jeans that I would have purchased had he presented them to me. I could have gone back and exchanged them but I was out of time.
Now, that salesperson could have gained a client if he had just listened to me. Instead, I’ll be looking for a different salesperson on my next visit to Nordstrom’s.
Too often salespeople aren’t listening as you tell them how to sell you. It’s why they call it consultative. If they listened and had a solution, or could customize one, they would earn a sale.
Do your sales people listen? If not, call us. We provide listeners who can close.
Seriously, companies don’t normally want salespeople who drive business to their competitors. If your sales team member isn’t making goal, they are also driving business to someone else.
Most hiring managers aren’t happy when they dismiss a salesperson. I was taught that when you cut from the bottom, the rest of the team takes notice and the office atmosphere gains motivation. Normally that comes from fear of being NEXT, or confidence that they’re working for a company that respects their own work ethic and goal achievement.
It doesn’t make any salesperson hitting their goal proud to work for a company that accepts underachievement in the sales ranks.
Achievers don’t enjoy working with underachievers. When I ask someone to leave my company I feel I am partially helping them find their next opportunity. The idea is they find work they enjoy so they will be more productive. If you consider they probably aren’t happy if they are not making goal anyway, the task gets easier.
Also, the remaining team seems to get re-energized when someone leaves the sales team for not making their sales numbers.
Cutting from the bottom is a strategy that assertive sales managers utilize at large, sales-driven companies for improved performance.
Good selling!

Who says cold calling is dead?

Thursday, October 20th, 2011

And…who says that COLD CALLING is DEAD?
It is Frank Rambauskas, and yes, I bought his book. I was incredibly concerned from the title of his book that an activity I’ve done for 35 years is out of date and no longer viable to obtain new business.
Since he shares his opinion openly, I am offering a little different perspective.
Frank implies that unless you’re on all the social networks, sending out email newsletters, writing blogs, paying per click and “tweeting” …that your business is doomed.
At The McCandlish Group we’re still here cold calling and it works for us. (With the support from email newsletters and job postings on LinkedIn).
In over a couple years of updating Twitter and Facebook, we have yet to gain a new client from anywhere but our Newsletter, Google Adwords and cold calling. We’ve spent hundreds of hours online as sales or marketing consultants keep sending us notices to learn the new social media (by paying them of course) and become knowledgeable in updated and modern techniques that will generate cash flow.
There seems to be a plethora of “services to buy” that will generate more and better candidates that will perform to higher expectations than your present or past candidates. How did we ever get by in the past?
Let me ask the new breed of social media sales people what their sales presentation is based on? FACTS? I’d enjoy seeing them.
The book states “Cold calling destroys your status as a business equal”. My thinking is I appreciate a professional sales person making me aware of new or improved services by calling me to earn my business. Sometimes when I’m heads down and working in my business, I don’t take time to work ON my business. Thus, a fresh reminder from someone who reminds me of new ideas is appreciated.
Frank also says, “Persistence” is not the answer! Sorry, I disagree. Sometimes I remind prospects we’re out here 3-4 times before they ask us to assist in their search. Talking with prospective clients also let me know if our services stay competitive or not.
He teaches How to maintain power and control in sales appointments. Yes, I feel it’s a better dynamic if prospects call us, the power of attraction works IF the phone is ringing. When it isn’t, we cold-call, and it has always worked for us to some degree when advertising or other methods fail.
He also says, “There’s a major difference between sales failures and sales superstars.” I say it’s working longer hours and prospecting with a variety of methodologies including cold calling as a supplement. And yes, talent is the variable.
I was surprised reading, “Sales is not a numbers game.” The author states “sales people get tired of cold calling”…I haven’t tired of it in 35 years because I need to pay bills. I may be tired of politics in the US and paying taxes, but cold calling keeps my selling skills sharp and I still open new business each month by introducing our service to 200 new prospects. It is an ADDITIONAL prospecting approach to some social media choices if you wish.
Frank gives us Strategies to quickly increase your sales and get undecided prospects to buy right now. Again, our main success has been from email newsletters.
He communicates “Dozens of strategies you can use to generate hot leads without cold calling!” Most include large budgets to make happen. Cold calling remains low cost.
In summary, cold calling has always worked for us; it actually has been the ONLY method that has worked when all else failed.
Google Adwords brings occasional business but I keep feeding the meter and it’s spotty. Then there’s LinkedIn and although time-consuming to work, a major benefit are the contact names to start our search. I feel BOTH are a necessity at this point.
As a result, I want to stand up for all the sales pros that still make a living by cold calling. We know them as HUNTERS.
Show me a sales person who doesn’t cold call and most often, I’ll show you an ACCOUNT MANAGER!
Thanks for the book and your perspective, Mr. Rambauskas, and good selling as well.