ACTG Sales Management Blog

Sales & Sales Management Expertise Blog  

Become a Pipeline Hound!

Posted by Alex Cole on Fri, Jul 07, 2017

How important is it for your salespeople to have a pipeline of prospects? Probably pretty important. How crucial is it that your salespeople continue to feed into that pipeline? Just as crucial! We all know that, in order for your organization to succeed, it is vital that your salespeople build, grow and maintain a solid pipeline. But what happens if one of those great salespeople leaves? Do you have someone on the sidelines ready to take that spot?

The first thing that we teach our Hire Better Salespeople (HBSP) clients is that it is just as imperative for you to have a pipeline of potential candidates as it is for your salespeople to have a pipeline of prospects. Most companies find themselves reacting to the loss of an employee as opposed to being proactive about it. When companies don’t proactively recruit new sales talent, they typically find themselves with a vacancy for a much longer time. For example, last year, HBSP partnered with a financial institution out of Cheyenne, WY and it took over 8 months to find a qualified individual partly due to the absence of a sales candidate pipeline. When this happens, you now have the daunting task, and added pressure, of finding a replacement... and quickly! But what happens when we rush things? Usually a mistake is made, right? Your hiring decisions and processes are not something to be rushed or else large, costly mistakes will occur. It doesn’t matter if things are going great or going terribly- a candidate pipeline has to exist.

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So, what is the best way to build a sales candidate pipeline? Be a candidate watch dog! Start with the people you know. Typically, great people know other great people and are happy to refer them. Ask your family, friends and employees if they know of anyone who may be a fit for your organization. Networking events are also a great place to receive names and meet potential sales candidates. Once you gain a few leads, reach out and see if they would be interested in getting together. In no way are these conversations interviews- they shouldn’t be! Interviews are for applicants who are actively looking when you have an active opening. At this point, you are just trying to gauge interest and add potential sales candidates to your network.

Creating a candidate pipeline won’t solve all your recruiting troubles, but it’s the first place to start. If you are interested in learning more about how to Hire Better Salespeople, sign up for our free webinar—Ruff Realities About Recruiting. During this webinar, you will learn how to hire your next “top dog” using our proven process for searching, evaluating skills using a sales assessment, interviewing, hiring and onboarding new hires.

Webinar Details:

Thursday, July 27th at 12 PM EST

REGISTER HERE for "Ruff" Realities Recruiting Webinar

Topics: sales candidates, recruiting sales talent, increase pipeline, hire better salespeople

Hiring The Right People Improves Sales Success

Posted by Tony Cole on Fri, Nov 11, 2011

There is a saying in sports; “You can lose with great people but you cannot win without them.”  This theory applies to business, and winning in business starts with a winning sales team.  

Let’s return to the sports application first.  Theo Epstein was the general manager for the Boston Red Sox.  The Chicago Cubs hired him away from the Red Sox and his first item of business to address is the hiring of a new manager for the club.  

Below is an excerpt of a recent article about the process he is going through to get the right person for the job.  Earlier in the week, he had made it clear that one of most important criteria for the job was that the candidate MUST HAVE major league managerial or coaching experience.

One media person inquired what type of attributes Epstein is looking for in a manager.

"In the real world, it's hard to find a candidate that has everything you're looking for," Epstein said. "What you do is you weigh your variables and make your sacrifices where you have to. Often times, if you're going to take a candidate without previous managerial experience, even at the minor league level, he has to represent real upside in other areas. In that case, you have to do even more due diligence than you normally would because you're projecting him into that role."

One of the talked about candidates early in the selection process was Ryne Sandberg.  Below is his stellar baseball resume. 

Ryne Dee Sandberg (Ryno)

Positions: Second Baseman and Third Baseman 
Bats: Right, Throws: Right 
Height: 6' 1", Weight: 175 lb.
Born: September 181959 in Spokane, WA (Age 52) 
High School: North Central (Spokane, WA)
Drafted
 by the Philadelphia Phillies in the 20th round of the 1978 amateur draft.
Signed June 15, 1978. (All Transactions)
Debut: September 2, 1981 
Teams (by GP): Cubs/Phillies 1981-1997
Final Game: September 28, 1997 
Inducted into the Hall of Fame by BBWAA as Player in 2005 (393/516 ballots).

I won't list his stats - induction into the baseball players Hall of Fame speaks for itself.  The one thing that is missing is managerial or coaching experience at the major league level.  He was never interviewed for the position. 

The point here is that Epstein had a profile for the position and he stuck with it, regardless of the star qualities of Sandberg. 

The lessons in this story for senior sales executives include:

  • You must know exactly what qualities the candidate must have
  • You must communicate this to likely candidates
  • You must not be swayed by other experience "outside" your profile
  • You can consider other experience but consider the downside
  • You must be prepared for a "project" if you hire outside your profile

Finding the exact right candidate is a long shot no matter what the position.  As Epstein points out, you have to weigh all the information and consider what you are willing to sacrifice.  As you prepare to "upgrade your sales staff", follow these steps for Sales Talent Acquisition and improve your probability for success:

  1. Build a profile for the IDEAL Candidate
  2. Communicate that profile to "attract" the right candidate (in ads, etc)
  3. Screen (assess) the candidate before interviewing the candidate
  4. Create screening and interviewing processes that simulate the environment in which the candidate will have to perform
  5. Make the candidate sell you, DO NOT sell the candidate on the position
  6. Have a detailed communication process in place so that once hired, the candidate knows "exactly" what the objectives and expectations are.
  7. Have a very tight and detailed on - boarding process that ALL candidates go through regardless of their experience.
  8. Inspect what you expect for the first 180 days of their employment

Following these steps will improve your probability for recruiting and sales success.  To help you begin, try this Free 3 Day Express Screen Trial (select the "Sales Candidate" option).

                                   Sales Screen Trial

Topics: hiring sales people, sales talent acquisition, improving sales, sales people, sales candidates, sales assessments

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    About our Blog

    Founder and CLO Tony Cole has been working with financial firms for more than 25 years to help them close their sales opportunity gap.  He is a master at using science based data and finely honed coaching strategies to help build effective sales teams.  Don’t miss his weekly sales management blog insights.

     

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