Sales & Sales Management Expertise

Who is Your Superstar?

Tags: hire better sales people, increase sales, sales habits, upgrade your sales force

Kobe Bryant will be retired from NBA basketball when the final buzzer sounds in tonight’s game against the Utah Jazz.  If you are not a basketball fan or sports fan, this may mean nothing to you.  My intent is to frame a very important discussion about performance around a living legend of the LA Lakers and NBA.

As I listened to ESPN Radio Mike and Mike in The Morning, I heard commentary from former teammates, coaches and opposing players. There was a common theme in there discussion about Kobe Bryant and elite performers in athletics.  To be clear, I don’t believe the common theme is limited to athletic top performers.

 KOBE.jpg

As I started this article, I sent a question to my niece, Laura Wehrmeyer Fuentes.  Laura is an elite performer and vocalist who performs in the greater DC/Baltimore area.  I asked her if she ever bailed on a performance because she felt a little off or hadn’t prepared properly.  Her response:  “No way!  I’ve sung through bronchitis and pneumonia hopped up on steroids when I had to.  The show must go on!”

Elite performers prepare and perform at the highest capabilities regardless of the situation, the score, the environment or circumstances.

Some comments made about Kobe made me think about the content and theme of this article.  Here is just a sampling of what was said about Kobe and other top performers:

  • They demanded the best of others. When others were not performing at their best, giving it their all in practice or in a game, they call them out.
  • When it’s game time, nothing else matters. When Kobe’s family came to LA to watch him play, they stayed at a hotel instead of his spacious home.  He focused on the task at hand.
  • Regardless of the score of any game, if you watched Kobe play, you would swear that the Lakers must be down by 20. His intensity for playing the game rather than playing the score made him elite.
  • When comparing Kobe to Magic Johnson, the comment was made about Magic after they lost the championship to the Lakers. “You couldn’t find Magic in LA.  Here is a guy that likes to be out, is normally seen out and is everywhere where the lights are.  After the loss you could only find him in one place – the gym.”
  • Elite players make other players better. They recognize that they are a big piece of the puzzle, but still only one piece.  They elevate the game of others in order to win the team
  • Elite players have a tendency to rub others the wrong way. Not because they are arrogant individuals, but they have an arrogance about how they view the game and how it should be played and how one should be prepared to play.  They are haters – haters of losing and those un-willing to pay the price to win.

I could go on, but this makes the point and takes me to the question in the title of this article – Who are your elite players and are they doing the things that superstar/hall of fame players do? 

  • Are they elevating others?
  • Are they demanding of others?
  • Are they team-objective focused or focused on their own stats?
  • Do they do everything possible to win individually and get others to win as a team?
  • Are they your go-to people in a crisis?
  • Do they grind and grind to get it done?
  • Do they work relentlessly on their skills?
  • Do they focus on the details of the game so as to eliminate repeated errors or mistakes?
  • Do they call others out?

*Data on approximately 100,000 sales managers

  • Have, on average 43% of the Sales Coaching Competency 
  • Only 39% have at least 50% of the Sales Coaching Competency.  
  • Only 7% have more than 75% of the Sales Coaching Competency and
  • Only 3% spend at least 50% of their time coaching their salespeople
  • Only 7% of sales people assessed fall into the elite status based on performance, sales DNA and 21 core sales competencies.

As a CEO, president, national sales manager, vice president of sales or sales manager, the responsibility you have is to drive revenue.  When that seems difficult or impossible there needs to be more to the solution than work harder, see more people, increase the marketing budget, do more social networking, expand the sales force, etc.  Just like you would look into the numbers (expenses) to figure out how to improve profit, you need to look at the root problems impacting revenue.

It isn’t the latest sales enablement technology that improves sales results.  It is the human technology that drives sales today and will drive sales tomorrow.

Helpful Links/Resources:

Objective Management Group – White Paper on Talent Selection

Anthony Cole Training Group – Link to Sales Management Certification Program

Hirebettersalespeople.com – Self-explanatory link

Burning platform issue – You have a problem now, You want it fixed now – call me directly:  Office: 513.605.1301 or call/text  Mobile 513.226.3913.

 

Picture of Kobe – link to YouTube

Your Sales Management Pitch to Hire Better Sales People

Tags: hire better sales people, sales management, sales managed environment, upgrade your sales force

There isn’t a single sales manager, sales executive or company president that tells a prospective new hire that the compensation program is poor, there is a lack of support, the company does not occupy a strong position in the market or there is no chance for professional advancement!

Anyone talking to any candidate has a "sales pitch" to attract new hires. How good is yours?

I was watching City Slickers again and I happened to turn on the movie just as Curly is explaining that most problems would be solved if people just focused on "The One Thing”. This isn’t a new idea, but certainly it is an idea worth re-visiting. "The one thing" in business that is supposed to describe what a company does can be described by any one of the following:

  • The elevator pitch
  • The value proposition
  • The 30-second commercial
  • The unique sales approach
  • The brand promise

“It’ has many names, but in a nutshell, what sales and marketing attempts to do is to communicate to the consumer, in a brief but effective approach, what it is that they do and why the consumer should entertain doing business with them.

Apple – "We make great computers that are beautifully designed that are simple to use, user friendly."

The Late John Savage (Insurance professional) – "I deliver buckets of money when people need it the most."

Coors Light – "The world’s most refreshing beer"

Geico – "15 minute or less can save you 15% of more on your car insurance"

That's the external brand. I was interested in the internal brand and the impact on results. I did some googling and came across the "Better Brand" blog. The author talked about the internal brand promise and the external brand promise. Your external brand promise should elicit a response(s) such as:

  • Tell me more
  • How do you do that?
  • That’s me?

Your internal brand – the brand you promise to current and potential sales professionals - should do the same thing!

What is your internal brand promise? What is it that you bring to the table that inspires and motivates your sales people to follow you, "buy" you, your message, your coaching and your teaching? What is it that you say to prospective new hires that would cause them to say or think...

  • Tell me more!
  • How do you do that?
  • That’s me!

When you consider the role and responsibilities of the sales executive:

Tony Cole - Put the best team into the marketplace – Video

Dave Kurlan - Execute the 5 functions of sales management – Video

Bill Eckstom - The importance of coaching - Video

You might consider this – How well are you selling and delivering on your internal brand promise? To answer that, you must back up the video a bit and identify what it is you are promising prospects when you recruit them to your organization:

  • Strong market presence
  • Internal partners to generate leads
  • Support for your growing business
  • Systems and processes that drive efficiency
  • You can earn _______dollars with our incentive compensation plan
  • Run your own show
  • Access to unlimited resources/markets
  • Get the BIG deals
  • Great environment

I don’t know all that you promise them or imply when you recruit them, contract them and on-board them, but you do and so do they. You must have said something that caused them to either join your team or stay on your team. If you are delivering on the brand, then turnover and discontent should be minimal. If you are not delivering on the promise, then it is important for you as the sales leader to assess that internal brand promise:

  • Is it legitimate or is it propaganda?
  • Have you fulfilled the promise?
  • If not, why not?
  • What would your team say?
  • What impact is this having on results?
  • What is the one thing you need to do now?

For improved sales performance, contact us about the NEW Sales Managed Environment Certification® Program - Text me at 513.226.3913.  Subject line: SMEC and your name.

 

 

Wacky Idea for Sales Management - Terminate Underperformers NOW!

Tags: hire better sales people, Sales Tracking, sales management, performance management, 80/20 Principle

I’m finally going to finish the book, American Icon.  It's the story of Ford and how Alan Mullaly helped the auto dealer regain its swagger. Time after time, Ford and Mulally had to make tough decisions on underperforming business units and automobiles. If the car or unit wasn’t performing, if the buying public was no longer buying and if the manager of the unit wasn’t getting progress or growth, they got cut.

ford_logo

The first time I applied the 80/20 rule was when I was asked to attend a meeting with Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield of Ohio. I was going to conduct a workshop with the reps in the state on how to more effectively build productive broker relationships.  One of the principles of the process is to identify (using the 80/20 rule) those brokers that were getting most of the business and those brokers that were licensed but essentially doing nothing.  The idea was to spend more time with those doing more and less time with those doing nothing.

Jim Barone, sales manager for Anthem in the state of Ohio at that time, provided me a list of all the wholesalers in attendance. In addition to the list of names, there was information about their production year to date. Just for the heck of it, I applied the 80/20 rule to his group to see what I would come up with.

The group consisted of somewhere between 25 and 30 wholesalers.  When I did the math, sure enough, Pareto’s principle held true. About 7 of the wholesalers were generating about 80% of the premium.  When I took another piece of the remaining group, I found that about a total of 12 people were responsible for over 90% of the total premium. When I arrived at the meeting, I found Jim and shared this information with him.  His response was something like “holy crap”.

The problem that Jim had (and the problem that anyone has in the channel development business or in business where you have to have representation wherever you have a "branch") is that there is a belief that you have to have a body in the seat where a desk is. Twenty years ago, when I was working with companies like Anthem, that was true.  With technology today, I’m not sure it is anymore.

Here’s my wacky idea for sales managers: Terminate those bottom 20% that are not producing.  Not in 30 or 60 or 90 days.  Right now. Ohio is an employment-at-will state. Meaning that, unless you have a contract for a stated specific time period, an employee can be terminated without cause. If you have to, give them 30 days to find a new job, but get rid of them. They are costing you time, money and effort.

Now, start replacing the bodies. But don’t replace them with high cost sales people that won’t be any better than what you just terminated and take a long time to break even.  Instead, look to your top producers and those in the 2nd and 3rd quintile and ask yourself this question: How much more effective/productive could this group be if I provided them with the right sales support?

Why would you do this? There are several reasons, but the one I’m thinking of is this - to build your own sales team instead of trying to draft one.  Think about how hard it is to find really good, solid sales people that can have an immediate impact on your current sales people.  Think about all the "stuff" you’ve heard from your top tier sales people about support, paper work, meetings etc.  Yes, I know they are excuses, but suppose you put an end to them?

Suppose you went out and found people that were talented at account management and farming books of business? They know the technical side of the business, but maybe they aren’t great at hunting, networking and developing new relationships. Or, maybe they can become that, but they are new in their professional careers and just need exposure and experience to sales!

To do this, you need to do more than just go out and hire them.  You have to have systems and processes in place and then make sure your sales people use the support talent and stop making excuses.  You have to have a development plan for these new hires so that they learn selling. You have to make sure you have data collection systems in place so that you can more effectively coach the sales people you have today that are not reaching their potential.  And, you have to have the career advancement process in place so that your new support people know what they are aiming for and your experienced sales people don’t think that the only way to advance is to become a sales manager.

I know this is wacky.  But how wacky is it to keep 33% of your team that represents less than 10% of your revenue?

Hire the right people – Hirebettersalespeople.com

Building your sale environment – Sales Managed Environment Certification

 Free book download - Effective Sales Management

Why Companies Struggle with Hiring Quality Sales People

Tags: hire better sales people, sales management, sales success, upgrade your sales force

Putting the best people in the right seats is the biggest problem identified by most business owners, especially as it applies to critical sales roles. Here are the 5 most common reasons most companies struggle with hiring quality salespeople.

hire-better-salespeople

#1 Companies outsource their recruiting and the responsibility. Recruiting is something that a company has to own. They can no longer outsource the work and the responsibility. That makes it too easy for people internally to throw up their hands and transfer failures associated within the hiring process to the outsourced firm. If companies are going to improve the quality of their hires, they have to own the process.

#2 There is a lack of a consistent process for constantly searching. Most, if not all, companies make the mistake of looking for candidates only when they have an opening. This leads to many problems:

  • Being held hostage by salespeople with “large books”. Companies feel they cannot do anything about them for fear of losing the “books” since there aren’t any replacements.
  • Feeling desperate to fill a chair with a warm bottom when there is a vacancy. A body,
    any body, is better than no one sitting in the chair (branch).
  • Not replacing underperformers because there isn’t a pipeline of candidates to choose from. The underperformers stay around too long; others know it and realize that they don’t have to perform to keep their job, so overall team production continues to decline.

#3 Companies are not getting quality candidates entering the process. The traditional model of recruiting today is one where the placement firm tries to convince their client why a candidate should be hired. Companies should, on the other hand, work extremely hard to disqualify candidates because there are specific skills that apply for that sales job and many/most candidates do not have those skills. Bottom line, the company has to assess at least two things: 1) Do they have enough of the right strengths to be successful? 2) Will they sell versus can they sell?

#4 There is poor communication about the specific role and expectations of this new hire. Too often, everyone is so excited about putting the deal together (getting the seat filled) that no one takes the time to get into the details of the day-to-day requirements of the job. This leads to early misunderstandings about the role and eventually, failure on the part of the new hire to meet the expectations of the company. Failure to “negotiate on the 1st tee” leads to misunderstanding and failure to execute on the sales goals.

#5 The on-boarding process is inadequate. Most companies are ill-equipped to effectively on-board new sales people. They spend time introducing them to the “culture” of the operation, the mechanics of the job and how to get things done. They introduce them to HR, their support team, marketing and their partners. And, yes, there is discussion about goals, sales activities and how to enter data into CRM. And then… the new hires are on their own.

Companies think that they have hired their next sales superstar and then, 12 months later, they cannot figure out what went wrong. They look at the numbers and discover that the new hires are producing “just like everyone else in the middle of the pack.” The process most companies have in place currently to recruit and hire salespeople perpetuates this problem.

If you need help or more information on hiring better salespeople, we have many resources available for you. You can also text me directly at (513 226-3913) and type Hiring in the subject line. You will get my undivided attention!

 

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Non-Performing Sales People and What to Do With Them

Tags: hire better sales people, Sales Tracking, sales management, Sales Coaching, 80/20 Principle

I have 30 years tenure with my wife, Linda. “Tenure” may not be the right way to put it, so I’ll say it the way I do when we celebrate our wedding anniversary – 30 years of “marital (I pronounce it myrtle) bliss”. And the future is looking really good for me - based on how Linda makes decisions about when to keep things and when to discard them.

tony-linda-beach

You see, Linda hates to get rid of stuff that’s working. Except for coffee makers. She is very particular about how her coffee tastes and how long it takes the coffee maker to make the coffee. Aside from that, as long as an appliance, an article of clothing, a piece of furniture is working, is functional, is not broken – she keeps it. It doesn’t have to function as well as when it was purchased; it just has to function well enough to avoid being replaced by a newer, better model.

I celebrated by 60th birthday last December. For my birthday, I wanted a new wide screen 4k flat screen. I pained her to get rid of our 16 year old, boxy big screen Toshiba. But it still worked. The picture was… well, it was a picture from a 15-year old TV that had the “3 guns” that created the picture on the screen. It was connected to the digital box from the cable company and provided us with all the TV entertainment we needed.

The way I see it, as long as I am functional, I’m in good shape. When things stop working in our house or we finally decide that we need to “get rid of something”, we just put it out by the street in front of our house and, depending on what it is, you can generally count on it being gone before the next morning. So, as long as Linda doesn’t ask me to sit out by the street, I figure I’m good.

What does any of this have to do with you and your sales people? Plenty.

Who do you have on your team that’s just getting by? Yes, they are functional; yes, they produce some numbers that contribute to your overall success; yes, they might manage books of business that may leave if you fire them; and, yes, you need a warm body in the seat. But, does that mean you should keep them? Does that mean you shouldn’t take them to the shop for some upgrading? Does that mean you should tolerate their lack of performance just because the team, as a team, is hitting its numbers? The answer to all three questions is no, no, no.

You know the 80/20 rule right? (Perry Marshall’s 80/20 Power Curve – Must see!) Do you know the 36/96 rule? If you double click on the 80/20, that is what you get. Let’s suppose you have 100 sales people generating 1,000,000 of something. 20 of your salespeople are responsible for generating 800,000 of something. If you apply the 80/20 rule to the remaining 80 people, you get an additional 16 people for a total of 36% of the sales team. These additional 16 people are responsible for 80% of the remaining 200,000 of something – 160,000. Add that to the initial 800,000 for a total of 960,000 somethings or 96% of the total.

36% of the sales team responsible for 96% of your results. What the hell is everyone else doing and why are they still with you?

I understand a couple of things about a couple of things. If you have these 100 people and some of them are sitting in chairs in rural Ohio, Indiana, Wyoming, New Mexico, etc., then you need someone there. You just cannot eliminate the only person working the location, but that doesn’t mean you should not have someone there that isn’t hitting their goal. Now, forget about the rural salespeople for a minute; that doesn’t explain why you keep others that are in the heart of metropolitan areas like Indianapolis or Columbus.

So, here’s what you do:

  1. You get these underperformers in a room (if possible) and you show them the data, show them the results. You then ask them to answer the question - “Why should you stay employed here?” Make them all answer the question. Tell them that their answer isn’t good enough and that, starting today, this is how things are going to work.
  2. How things are going to work – everyone must commit to a sales productivity number by going through the “extra-ordinary discussion”. (Call Jack in our office and he’ll explain that to you or text me at 513-226-3913, Subject Line: “Extra-ordinary” and I’ll give you a call. Please provide your name).
  3. Build a success formula based on that target number.
  4. Build huddles to start collecting relevant sales activity information.
  5. Start providing data back to them.
  6. After 60 days, review your data and, to each individual with whom you are working, report back the business intelligence you’ve gained because of the data.
  7. Put the people that are failing to perform – either sales activity or sales results – on a disciplined coaching schedule so that you can correct the one or two problems contributing to the lack of results –effort and/or execution.
  8. After an additional 60 days, if you do not see improvement, ask them to go sit out by the street.

 

Click below to get more information about:

Our Sales Managed Environment Certification

How to Build a Motivated Sales Team

Hirebettersalespeople.com

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Why Companies Struggle With Hiring Quality Sales People

Tags: hire better sales people, sales management, upgrade your sales force

hiring-great-people_

Putting the best people in the right seats is the biggest problem identified by most business owners, especially as it applies to critical sales roles. Here are the 5 most common reasons most companies struggle with hiring quality salespeople.

#1 Companies outsource their recruiting and the responsibility. Recruiting is something that a company has to own. They can no longer outsource the work and the responsibility. That makes it too easy for people internally to throw up their hands and transfer failures associated within the hiring process to the outsourced firm. If companies are going to improve the quality of their hires, they have to own the process.

#2 There is a lack of a consistent process for constantly searching. Most, if not all, companies make the mistake of looking for candidates only when they have an opening. This leads to many problems:

  • Being held hostage by salespeople with “large books”. Companies feel they cannot do anything about them for fear of losing the “books” since there aren’t any replacements.
  • Feeling desperate to fill a chair with a warm bottom when there is a vacancy. A body,
    any body, is better than no one sitting in the chair (branch).
  • Not replacing underperformers because there isn’t a pipeline of candidates to choose from. The underperformers stay around too long; others know it and realize that they don’t have to perform to keep their job, so overall team production continues to decline.

#3 Companies are not getting quality candidates entering the process. The traditional model of recruiting today is one where the placement firm tries to convince their client why a candidate should be hired. Companies should, on the other hand, work extremely hard to disqualify candidates because there are specific skills that apply for that sales job and many/most candidates do not have those skills. Bottom line, the company has to assess at least two things: 1) Do they have enough of the right strengths to be successful? 2) Will they sell versus can they sell?

#4 There is poor communication about the specific role and expectations of this new hire. Too often, everyone is so excited about putting the deal together (getting the seat filled) that no one takes the time to get into the details of the day-to-day requirements of the job. This leads to early misunderstandings about the role and eventually, failure on the part of the new hire to meet the expectations of the company. Failure to “negotiate on the 1st tee” leads to misunderstanding and failure to execute on the sales goals.

#5 The on-boarding process is inadequate. Most companies are ill-equipped to effectively on-board new sales people. They spend time introducing them to the “culture” of the operation, the mechanics of the job and how to get things done. They introduce them to HR, their support team, marketing and their partners. And, yes, there is discussion about goals, sales activities and how to enter data into CRM. And then… the new hires are on their own.

Companies think that they have hired their next sales superstar and then, 12 months later, they cannot figure out what went wrong. They look at the numbers and discover that the new hires are producing “just like everyone else in the middle of the pack.” The process most companies have in place currently to recruit and hire salespeople perpetuates this problem.

If you need help or more information on hiring better salespeople, we have many resources available for you. You can also text me directly at (513 226-3913) and type “Hiring” in the subject line. You will get my undivided attention!

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5 Steps For Hiring Better Sales People

Tags: hiring sales people, hire better sales people

hire-better-salespeople

 

A couple of things before I get started:

  1. I really don’t believe it’s just five steps
  2. Google search finds us better when we post articles with #s in the title of the article
  3. This is all really good stuff, but there is one step at the very end – a bonus step - that trumps these 5 steps for hiring better sales people.

Step 1 – Realize and admit that you have people on your team today that are underperforming. That is the norm, but that doesn’t mean that you have to accept it. If you do, then you are part of the problem. Break out of the accepted premise that you cannot possibly have everyone on your team hitting their goal – that all you have to do is lower the goals. That, unfortunately, in reality is what most companies do. They don’t actually lower the goal; they just accept mediocrity when goals are not hit. 20 to 30% of the people on the team carry the load, get the overall performance to exceed expectations while everyone else gets a free pass. Sure, you have people on the way lower end - 3 standard deviations from the norm – but, normally, those are new hires or producers with large revenue streams who have “retired” but just haven’t told anyone.

Step 2 – Realize that you are perfectly designed for the results you are getting today. Everything you do around recruiting, performance management, coaching, mentoring, on-boarding, and training influences your ability to attract, hire and retain better sales people. When you look at the people you have on the team and put them on an 80/20 grid and realize that 33% of your people are generating north of 80% of the results, you can easily see that those others add virtually nothing to the equation when it comes to new business. My question is this – did you hire them that way or did you make them that way?

Step 3 – Decide today that you are going to hire better sales people and not deviate from that objective. Now, be careful about this. This can be like deciding to “get fit”. You set a goal for exercise and diet that is unreasonable given your current habits and condition and end up setting yourself up to fail. So, you have to be strategic about this. Segment your group into quintiles, identify the traits and qualities of those people and make sure that, if you are looking to replace someone in the 3rd quintile, your new hire is better than the one you are replacing. I hope I get this stat correct – according to Brad Smart, author of Topgrading, 75% of the new hires replacing old hires are either worse or no better than the person being exited. You can do better than that.

Step 4 – Put in a process of establishing exactly the right person for the job. In other words, instead of writing a job description, write down what it takes to be successful in the role and what the role is like day to day. Make sure in your job attraction ad you attempt to disqualify those people that are just looking for a new contract because they are sucking wind where they are today. That’s just the first step. You have to have a process that is followed routinely by everyone involved in the recruiting. Make sure you conduct strong phone interviews and have a pre-hire sales assessment versus just a personality or behavior profile – the profiles are nice for the manager and will tell if they can sell, but ultimately won’t tell you if they will sell.

Step 5Win the bet on the first tee. Once you find the exact right person (the perfect fit for the role) and you convinced them that your company is exactly the right place for them to finish their professional sales career, then… try to discourage them from taking the job. Tell them in precise detail exactly what is expected, how they will be managed, that the pressure to succeed is going to be high, that they will fill out activity reports, that they will keep their pipeline/CRM up to date, that there will be a huddle every week, that they will not be excused from sales training or sales meetings, that you will meet with them monthly to review the status of their success and lay out their career path for them. Give them plenty of reasons to reconsider. And oh, by the way, make sure that when you make your offer, they are ready to tell you yes or no

Now, remember the Bonus Step that I said in the beginning trumps all 5 of these steps for hiring better sales people? Well, here it is.

Bonus Step – Execute.

If you want to talk more about this, Text Me at 513.226.3913, Subject: Get a Yes or No at Time of Offer. Please make sure to give me your name as well.

Sales Habits, Sales Managers and Changing Habits

Tags: hire better sales people, sales management, sales assessments, building successful sales teams

base-crm

As I continue to think about habits of sales people and the role of the sales manager in identifying, assessing and “correcting” habits, I keep looking for additional information that might be additive to this string of articles. I came across an old email sent to me from Ike Jablon. Ike is a media relations specialist at SoftwareAdvice a company that helps businesses find sales software. I asked Ike to tell me more about Software Advice.

Here is his response: “Many sales professionals come to the conclusion that technology, namely a CRM system, can be critical to maintaining organization as a sales-oriented business scales and grows. We're a free and trusted resource for CRM buyers who are feeling overwhelmed by all the choices of solutions out there. Our team of software advisors provides free telephone consultations to help buyers build a shortlist of systems that will meet their specific needs.” 

Ike sent me a link to a survey that was done regarding the hunt for sales managers/directors. Here is the link to the survey findings: Sales Director Job Listings. Obviously, the connection here is the finding around the job post for the role and their experience with technology. The report shows that 29% of the companies surveyed require “technical expertise”. Of those 29%, 100% of them require the candidate to have expertise in CRM technology.

I have a habit of saying, “What’s interesting is…” Occasionally, I will catch myself and re-phrase the statement so that it sounds more like: “What I find interesting but what you might find boring as hell is…” So, this is what I find intriguing or interesting and you might find boring as hell:

  • Why only 29%? With more companies requiring more work to get done by fewer people, why wouldn’t companies demand that the person who is the direct link between sales strategy and sales execution be masterful at using technology? Using the right technology and using it well can help a director increase their span of influence and free up their time so they can have more interactions with their people that are meaningful and intentional instead of data gathering. E.g. “So, what’s in your pipeline?”
  • A secondary education was required by 66% of the respondents and, of that percentage, it appears that about 70% of the job postings indicated that the employer wanted somebody with a degree related to business – Business, Finance, Marketing or Communication degree.

top-degrees-requested

I understand the findings and I understand the tendency to want these requirements but… is it correct? Is this what companies should be looking for when hiring a director of sales?

I reached out to several sales executives and presidents of companies to inquire about what they see as the most common bad habits in sales people. I will be referring to their responses in the next several articles but, for this moment, let me share with you what Dave Kurlan, President of Objective Management Group, sent me:

  • Demo too soon in the sales process
  • Give up on contacting prospects several attempts too early
  • Don’t thoroughly qualify
  • Make too many assumptions
  • Don’t reach real decision makers

My question to potential employers is this: How does the business degree help with these bad habits? The answer is that the degree doesn’t help with the most common bad habits of sales people. Time and again, I’ve worked with sales directors with the appropriate degrees and still find these habits… as well as others. If having the degree was so critical, then why do these problems still exist? Why do most sales organizations have 70% of their sales force not hitting goals? Why would someone with an MBA allow a sales person to continue to be on the sales team after 18 months of failing to hit sales quotas? Imagine for a minute the IT director found out that 70% of the time a computer application responsible for financial reporting was providing incorrect information. What would happen?

  • The work experience required is also as expected. Experience in industry specific sales, experience in sales management, a minimum number of year sales etc.

sales-experience-preferred

I admit that I’m biased about what it takes to be an extraordinary sales director. I believe the same qualifications that make a good coach make a good sales manager. You have to be part psychologist, part teacher, part parent, part mentor, part accountability partner, part boss. Being a strong manager isn’t about being nice or mean. It isn’t about looking at the numbers and, when the numbers don’t add up, bringing in HR and putting the producer on a PIP.

I heard Dr. Peter Jensen speak at the EcSell Institute Sales Management Summit. He addressed the audience with the concept of the 3rd Factor of human behavior. The first two being nature and nurture. The third factor is our bias. In this specific case, he was talking about successful management. Regardless of the group or team you are trying to manage, coach and or improve, those successful coaches that he observed had a “coaching bias”. In other words, the most important thing to the coach was the development of another.

My question is: How do you find that in your next sales director?

My answer is:

  • Create the right profile for the role. Identify what you need them to DO rather than what they have done.
  • Create a job post that attracts exactly what you are looking for. Tell the readers of the job post that “The job isn’t for everyone. If you are going to be successful in this role with my company, then you MUST be able to demonstrate success doing…”
  • Assess if they will do what you need them to do not can they do. The #1 assessment tool in the world helps Anthony Cole Training Group help its clients hire the right people and eliminate hiring mistakes thus impacting both top-line and bottom-line.
  • Interview for what you are looking for. If your sales director has to inspire trust from the team, do you feel like your candidate is someone you can trust? If they must be masterful at performance management, how will you know your candidate can do that based on your current interviewing approach? If they must develop your sales team, how will you know that your candidate has developed extraordinarily successful sales teams (not just have a successful sales stud or studette that carried the rest of the team)?
  • Win the bet on the first tee. Make sure they know exactly what is expected and how they will be managed for the first 6 months on the job. Tell them exactly what will happen if people don’t improve and/or if metrics do not demonstrate that they are having and impact.
  • Make sure that, if they don’t come to the table equipped with all the know-how on using technology, that you direct them to sources like Software Advice to determine the right CRM, pipeline management, sales force automation applications for the job you need to get done. Don’t let them get hung up on the marketing glitz of the CRM with the biggest marketing budget. Don’t let them bring their past into your experience.
  • Pay for what you hope to get not what they’ve done in the past. Hiring the right person is similar to investing. Past performance is no guarantee for future returns. Make sure everyone has skin in the game for future growth.

 

Additional resources:

Don't miss out on our Extraordinary Sales Manager Webinar Series! It's not too late to get involved - Part 2 is coming up June 29, 2015. SIGN UP TODAY for the "Hire Better Salespeople" FREE webinar and get ready to take your hiring to a whole new level!

 

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