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Tony Cole

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3 Rules to Improved Candidate Selection

Posted by Tony Cole on Thu, Feb 25, 2021

When you don't have a pipeline of sales talent to go to when making a hire, you can become desperate. You become desperate because you believe having someone in the role is better than a vacancy.

In the 6th blog of our series No Assembly Required Hiring, Tony discusses how to avoid making reactive hiring decisions and the 3 rules you must follow to improve your candidate selection.

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What are your expectations of your salespeople when it comes to prospecting activity and a healthy pipeline? If you were going to go fishing, what is one of the keys to catching more fish? Not into fishing, then let us talk photography. If you want to capture the perfect sunrise picture, what is a fundamental principle to improving your probability of success? Last question to help make my point. If you want to improve any skill you have, change any outcome that you are unhappy with, what must you do?

The answer to these questions can be summarized here:

  • You expect your salespeople to consistently prospect
  • You need to have your lure in the water
  • You need to snap hundreds of photos to get the ONE
  • If you want to get better at a skill, you must practice thousands of times

What does this have to do with improved candidate selection?

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Rule #1 Always be prospecting

As in the movie Glengarry Glen Close, when Alex Baldwin tells his salespeople to always be closing, I’m telling you to always be prospecting. 100% of the time over the last 25 years, when I ask sales managers, sales executives, and presidents if their prospecting was more proactive or reactive, they say reactive.  That is a problem because you are now acting out of desperation. When you become desperate, you feel pressure to find someone to fill the chair because your mindset is that you cannot let that chair go empty. Someone in the chair is better than no one in the chair. Do not believe that lie.  

The problem is, when you are reactive, it can also mean that you are being held hostage by someone. Let us assume that the recent open chair is a result of a termination you had to make. Chances are it was a decision that you made months ago but could not pull the trigger sooner because that employee:

  • Had tenure
  • Managed a single large account
  • Had a significant book of business or portfolio
  • Wasn't costing you anything

I want to challenge you on this. If you budgeted to hire two but could only grow headcount by one, who would be gone tomorrow? Then why are you waiting? You're waiting because you don’t have a pipeline of potential salespeople.

Rule #2 Own lead generation

I am not going to suggest that you stop using recruiting or placement firms. What I am suggesting is to stop using them as the reason you are not seeing enough candidates.

What do you do when your salespeople blame their lack of sales on the competition, the economy, or the mindset of your company? I am hoping you ask them: “If you didn't use that as an excuse, what would you be doing differently?" You must have that same attitude about filling your candidate pipeline.

If you own it, then you will fix it. Also, you can't blame HR or the hiring managers. You hired them; they have a responsibility to make sure the job is getting done consistently both in activity for candidate lead generation and execution of your recruiting process. 

Rule #3 Inspect what you expect

If you expect salespeople to report on sales activity, pipeline opportunities, and client retention meetings, then you and the executive team must submit to inspection on candidate lead generation, and execution of the recruiting/hiring process.

  • If you have a team of 5 people assigned to get introductions, network within associations, talk to former/current employees or connect with product partners, you need to inspect monthly their activity compared to the goal.
  • If your hiring procedures identify that assessing is the first step in the recruiting process, then you need to inspect that it's being done. No one should go rogue on this just because it is a candidate they know, and or the local president knows all the players in their market.
  • If you use a scoring process that objectively evaluates candidates every step of the way, then everyone that touches the process must follow and use the same process.

Failure to have a documented hiring process like the one we use, the Sales Talent and Acquisition Routine, will lead to inconsistent steps and processes. That will eventually result in the variability of performance from your new hires.

Click Here for Additional Hiring Tools!

Topics: Prospecting, sales talent acquisition, hire better salespeople, recruiting sales talent

The Importance of Profile Fit in No Assembly Required Hiring

Posted by Tony Cole on Thu, Feb 18, 2021

Your potential sales candidates have to have a successful history selling the way your company sells, to the people you sell to, in the environment you sell in.

In the 5th installment of our blog series, No Assembly Required Hiring, we discuss the importance of recruiting salespeople who not only fit your selling requirements but also match the specific criteria of your organization.

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You believe you recruited Wonder Woman: someone with a great resume, OMG findings that showed strong Will to Sell, great Sales DNA, and they scored well in Sales Competencies. You could reasonably expect Wonder-Woman-level sales results. However, 12 to 18 months later, the results you see more closely resemble Aquaman (the 1967 version- not the new and improved Jason Momoa model). 

So what happened?

There could be a couple of explanations:

  • All salespeople need coaching – it could be that your sales manager is great at managing performance but not at coaching.
  • The onboarding process didn’t address some of the findings that needed work in either the Sales DNA or Sales Competencies categories.
  • The OMG is 92% predictive – you may have hired 1 of the 8 that got through.
  • Or, and this is the topic for our discussion today, it could be that there was a poor role fit.

When using and establishing the OMG pre-hire assessment, the sales executive answers a series of questions about the environment that exists within the company and what is required to be successful in that environment. The questions asked revolve around, but are not limited to, areas like the following:

If this is what it takes to succeed in your organization, and your candidate doesn't have success selling within your environment, they will struggle despite the Will to Sell, Sales DNA, and Sales Competencies. When we see overall strong results, but there is a mismatch with your criteria, “Recommended for Hire" doesn’t mean hire! You have to be ready to take on a project, adjust your onboarding expectations, increase the frequency of coaching, and change the type of coaching you would typically conduct.  

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Here is a sample from the pre-hire assessment that provides information about role match:

Imagine for a minute that the candidate did meet OMG Criteria scores for the Will to Sell and Sales DNA. There would still be a yellow flag in the category of Meets your Criteria if the candidate didn’t answer the questions the same way you did for role experience. This example tells you that your candidate wasn't successful as a high ticket seller, and they will not hunt for new business. This is a mild case of mismatched historical success and predicted success for your organization.

Over 25 years ago, we got our start on the big stage with USI Insurance. Back then the focus of that company, and many in the insurance brokerage industry, was organic growth from current salespeople and occasionally hiring a hotshot broker from one of the larger firms. They looked for brokers that would bring a high level of experience to the firm and possibly bring some large accounts with them. 

Often these highly touted recruits would fail. Why? Because the environment for success was different. They didn’t have a business card that had the name of a company that was easy to defend if something went wrong. Their success was based on the ability to show a card that said Aon or Marsh. In addition to having the right stuff, your candidates have to have a successful history selling the way your company sells, to the people you sell to, in the environment you sell in. 

They have to be a fit, and they have to be coachable. As you think about your next hire, think about the reasons people have failed in the past. Structure your recruiting, vetting, and onboarding process to uncover problems early and/or address them if you decide to take on a project.

Trial the Highly-Predictive  Pre-Hire Sales Assessment

Topics: Sales DNA, performance management, increase sales, hire better salespeople, will to sell

Some Assembly Required Hiring

Posted by Tony Cole on Thu, Feb 04, 2021

How important is it that your new hire be able to identify a prospect's compelling reason to make a change or the resources they have set aside to fix their business problem? Our guess is probably pretty important.

In the 4th article of our series Hiring No Assembly Required Salespeople, we discuss the questions you must ask yourself of a candidate's skills and what critical selling competencies you must look for before making a hiring decision.

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Occasionally some assembly is required when you hire a new salesperson. I have been using the Objective Management Pre-Hire Assessment with 92% predictive validity for over 20 years. OMG has assessed over 2 million people for over 31,000 companies worldwide. (Go to STAT FINDER for a high-level summary) They know what makes up an effective salesperson. And by extension, with the dozens of companies we have evaluated and the thousands of salespeople we have assessed and observed, this is what we know at Hire Better Salesperson.

 

Elite salespeople (the top 7% of the over 2,000,000 assessed) are evaluated just by how they score on the evaluation but are identified by their company as successful, hitting and or exceeding goals, and when stack ranked are top performers. not

 

What the assessment finds is the following:

  1. They score 613% higher in the comfortable talking about money competency than weak salespeople.
  2. They score 23% higher in the selling value competency
  3. They score 74% higher in the uncovering budget competency
  4. They score 55% higher in reaching decision making competency.

 

These findings beg the question or several questions, but I will start with this one:

 

How important is it that your new salesperson be able to...

  1. Ask and talk about the capacity a prospect has to invest time, money, and resources to buy the products and solutions you provide?
  2. Uncover and position value instead of selling, attempting to compete, or winning just on price?
  3. Uncover the available budget and meet with the person, or persons, that have the authority to write the check?
  4. Get to the actual decision-makers, or make sure that all resistance to making a decision has been eliminated, using a strategic approach working collaboratively with the inside champion?

The second question is; when would you want to know that your new salesperson is NOT capable of doing the things mentioned above? Or, somewhere in the first 12 months of their employment with you, when do you discover that they are not closing because they do not possess these competencies?

The purpose of this article is NOT to discourage you from hiring someone with these weaknesses. It's to help you better understand that by using a sales-specific assessment, instead of a personality or behavioral-based evaluation, you know in advance what assembly is required. 

 

When you know this information, you can create a series of intelligent hiring decisions based on the answers to these questions:

  1. Is this candidate coachable and have the Will to Sell competencies necessary to fix or improve these areas?
  2. Does this candidate have the supportive Sales DNA to improve in these areas? 
  3. Does my current sales manager know how to address these deficits? (look at your current production report. If about 36% of your people are at the bottom of your production report, that is a sign. Not hitting a goal, or 2, is another. In these cases, chances are you do not have a manager that can address, fix, or improve someone that needs assembly).
  4. If I have someone that can develop people, do we have the appropriate finances, time, and bandwidth?
Click Here for Additional Hiring Tools!

Topics: increase sales, hire better salespeople, highly successful salespeople

Uncover Sales DNA Upfront and Generate Greater Success When Hiring

Posted by Tony Cole on Thu, Jan 21, 2021

In the 3rd article of our series Hiring No Assembly Required Salespeople, we cover the Sales DNA competencies a successful candidate must have and how to identify these traits prior to making a hiring decision.

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If you’ve been in sales management, hiring, or skill development for any length of time, you have experienced a “Groundhog Day” in sales. In the movie, starring Bill Murray and Andi MacDowell, Bill’s character wakes up every morning to the same day, doing the same things and having the same experiences. He eventually figures out how to get out of the re-cycling of Groundhog Day.

 

Can you relate?

 

How many times in a week or month do you find yourself covering the same tactics, talk tracks, and opportunity development strategies? As the late Andy Rooney of 60 Minutes would ask, “Did you ever wonder why”? Wonder no longer.

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If the Will to Sell is the fuel (see the second article in our series), then the Sales DNA (audio explanation of Sales DNA) acts either as friction that stops/slows your sales vehicle or as a superset of tires that smooths the road and improves performance.

 

 

Looking at the chart, you can see this candidate is “supercharged” based on the green markers. No assembly is required here. The questions now become:

  • As of today, are you looking for this data before hiring?
  • If a candidate has weak Sales DNA, but you decide to hire them, how do you train and improve the root causes or drivers of sales outcomes?
  • Do you have the capacity to address these competencies?
  • How is your current vetting process uncovering sales-specific behaviors and beliefs?
  • If you are not using any assessment, how would you know if your candidate is weak or strong in these areas?
  • Suppose you could hire the candidate assessed above vs. the candidate you see below?

Stop taking chances with your new hire investment. Start taking an extra step-up front to identify if the candidate you are talking to has what it takes to become part of the top 10% of your sales company.

Let's discuss changing your hiring success to 92% positive predictive validity! Email me at tony@anthonycoletraining.com, provide your name and subject line "Hire Better".

Click Here for Additional Hiring Tools!

Topics: successful hiring, Sales DNA, increase sales, hire better salespeople, effective sales management, will to sell

Recruiting, Hiring and Onboarding Salespeople: It's in the Details

Posted by Tony Cole on Thu, Jan 14, 2021

In our first blog on How to Hire No Assembly Required Salespeople series, we discussed the four critical steps you must take to minimize hiring mistakes and identify top talent.

In this article, we cover critical selling competencies you must look for when sourcing and interviewing salespeople for your organization.

Indeed produces a series of ads on the radio discussing the value of their recruiting business solution. During the ad, the narrator describes the process as: “looking for a needle in a haystack.” Webster.com defines it as someone or something exceedingly difficult to find. E.g., Searching for an earring at the park is like looking for a needle in a haystack.

Suppose you find a needle and it’s the wrong needle?

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Not all needles are appropriate for every job. The same is true for salespeople. 

Unfortunately, when companies recruit salespeople, those responsible for profiling, attracting, vetting, interviewing, assessing, and eventually hiring and onboarding, fail to take the time to get the first step right.

Step #1: Know exactly what you are looking for

The primary criteria you should use to define the role/opportunity is: “Someone that will sell vs. someone that has sold or can sell.” The components of Will to Sell, as defined by the worlds #1 Sales Evaluation by The Objective Management Group Sales Assessment, are:

  • Desire
  • Commitment
  • Outlook
  • Motivation
  • Responsibility

Trial the Highly-Predictive  Pre-Hire Sales Assessment

Dave Kurlan and his team have evaluated over 2,000,000 salespeople from over 25,000 different companies. The assessment they have created has a 92.5% predictive validity. The findings indicate that if a candidate does not score well in the Will to Sell then they are less likely to:

  • Succeed compared to those that score well
  • Be coachable and trainable
  • Have the longevity needed to reach profitability

Let's look at the graphic to the left. This is what you should be looking for first and foremost when hiring a “no assembly required” candidate! The Will to Sell is the fuel that drives the engine of a successful salesperson.

For this article, let’s assume that green is good and red is bad. If you knew nothing else about a candidate other than what you see in this chart, what do you know based on the colors? That’s right. This candidate has a strong desire and commitment to be successful in selling, they have a great outlook no matter what, they own their sales outcomes and personal goals, and they have strong motivation.

I assure you that you won’t find this information in the resume, the job application, or during your interview process. Why? Because:

  • A candidate will not admit they are weak in desire and commitment
  • They will not tell you that they make excuses
  • Those responsible for hiring are not asking questions about what motivates them
  • The candidate has one job when they talk to you over coffee or when they show up for the interview – convince you they are the best thing since sliced bread!

Based on the graphic to the right, an example of a candidate with weak Will to Sell competencies, the question I always ask is: how soon would you want to know this information? The answer is as soon as possible.

 

Better yet, how about before you hire them?

 

Let us add another question: when you hire a candidate that has this level of Will to Sell, when do you typically find out? Typically:

  • The first 90 days post-hire
  • Within the first 6 months of employment
  • After they have failed to meet validation requirements
  • When you start having discussions about performance improvement

 

The real answer is when it’s too late and expensive. This first step in your recruiting process is critical. I assure you that if you evaluate your team by doing an Ideal Fit, you would see that your top people, as well as some of your bottom, have a very strong Will to Sell.

 

If that is the case, then why do salespeople with a strong Will to Sell still fail? Stay tuned for part 3 in our series on the impact of Sale DNA.

Click Here for Additional Hiring Tools!

Topics: hiring better sales people, increase sales, onboarding sales people, top sales performers

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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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