ACTG Sales Management Blog

Sales & Sales Management Expertise Blog  

Confirming the Role and Expectations When Hiring Sales Talent

Posted by Tony Cole on Thu, Mar 25, 2021

When you get to the offer step in your hiring process, it can be tempting to rush ahead and get your candidate contracted. However, this is a critical point in your system that cannot go overlooked. 

pexels-cytonn-photography-955389

When was the last time you went to a movie, and the movie didn’t live up to the trailer you saw on your television or online?

It’s like that with recruiting talent as well. In our previous article about the 11 deadly sins of interviewing, I mention that the candidate has one thing in mind – convince you that they are the right person for the job. That is what the trailer is designed to do – convince you that this is a must-see movie. So, what happened to the candidate that seemed to be perfect but isn’t working out in the first six months?

DON’T BLAME THE NEW HIRE!

Before you condemn yourself, the candidate, or your hiring team, you must take a look at the steps and processes in place that are responsible for reviewing the role and your expectations. How do you communicate these details to a candidate as part of your offer and contract steps? Too often, companies that are either hiring lots of people to leverage market opportunities or are desperate to fill a chair are so excited about having a candidate they rush to contract and skip this important step.

Confirming the role and your expectations

  1. Once you make the offer and the candidate accepts, you want to give them a chance to back out. You ask them, “Are you sure?” They are going to say yes. You tell them it’s going to be hard, and they will say I know or no problem. Then you ask, “Does that mean you’re willing to do everything possible to succeed assuming ethical, legal, and moral standards?” They will say yes.
  2. Review the role. This includes but is not limited to; hunting for opportunities within your target markets, executing the prospecting plan at 100%, and entering all activity and opportunities into your sales enablement tools. It may also include managing current relationships in the portfolio or book assigned to them, as well as cross-selling into other business units within your organization at agreed-to standards.
  3. Review expectations when entering opportunities in the CRM and keeping it up to date, attending and participating in all sales meetings, and completing your onboarding training and development program.
  4. Quarterly reviews of goals, activities, and year-to-date results.
  5. Participating in all pre-and post-call assigned meetings to discuss opportunity strategies.
  6. Review consequences for missing targets and execution.
  7. Review the compensation plan and rewards for success.
  8. Let them know that all the parts to their onboarding are more than suggestions; they are requirements that you expect to be met at 100%.
  9. If they miss a target or fall short of an expectation, you will have a discussion. It’s understood that a miss within the onboarding period (whatever length of time you establish) is a strike.
  10. You take a baseball approach to manage this process – 3 strikes, and you’re out.
  11. Finally, you ask the question, “Is there anything about this you don’t understand or have questions about?”
  12. Depending on how that conversation goes, you ask them to repeat back to you what you just heard.
  13. Ask them how they will make sure they execute this plan and will avoid “strike” conversations.
  14. Finally, if all goes well, you ask, “Okay, do you still want the job?”

Here is what I assume. 

  • You read this and said; that’s crazy, and no one does this. I would respond that you are probably right.
  • You’ve had problems in the past with candidates not working out. I would say that your contracting and onboarding process is perfectly designed for the results you are getting.
  • You feel this is too extreme. I would tell you that it might be and suggest that you find your middle ground. But whatever you do, make sure you confirm that the candidate clearly understands the role and expectations before signing the final employment contract.
  • You may not have all the steps in place to carry out this kind of onboarding process. Give us a shout, and we’ll walk you through how to get that done.

Enjoy the movie!

Click Here for Additional Hiring Tools!

Topics: sales talent acquisition, hire better salespeople, sales onboarding, assessing sales talent

Recruiting and Hiring Salespeople: The 5 Minute Interview

Posted by Tony Cole on Thu, Mar 04, 2021

How important is it that your new salespeople be great on the phone? Assuming the answer is "very important" then your candidate screening process must begin with the 5-minute interview.

In the 6th blog in our series No Assembly Required Hiring, we discuss the importance of an effective phone screen to help identify great sales talent to help eliminate time spent with unqualified candidates. 

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As they say in Sales 101, always ask questions that you know the answers to. In today's world of lead generation, social networking, and email blitz, sales organizations overlook the necessity for great phone skills. Regardless of the origin of the lead, eventually, most B2B salespeople, lenders, advisors, and solutions consultants will have to:

  • Pick up the phone and dial a number
  • Be able to capture a prospect's attention in an instant
  • Engage in a meaningful conversation
  • Demonstrates a high level of trust and confidence
  • Close for a qualified appointment 

If that sounds like something your salespeople ought to be able to do, then make sure you interview for those capabilities. The STAR (Sales Talent Acquisition Routine) Program we implement with our clients has the following initial steps:

  1. Create a profile that will attract the right candidates and discourage the wrong ones
  2. Post the job attraction post(description), and distribute the job attraction post to those engaged in working with you to find qualified candidates
  3. Upon interest from a candidate, review the resume, and if it meets your basic requirements to be employed, test them with the sales specific Objective Management Group Pre-hire assessment
  4. If the assessment comes back as Recommended for hire or Worthy of Consideration, then schedule a 5-minute phone interview with your phone interview specialist

These 4 steps are crucial to your success at hiring more qualified candidates, but none are more important than the phone interview!

WHY? 

Because your salespeople must be great on the phone. And if they must be great on the phone, when do you want to find out that they suck? As soon as possible. An effective phone interview will save you a lot of time interviewing people who are great at the audition but can’t play the role.

Trial the Highly-Predictive  Pre-Hire Sales Assessment

It will help you answer these questions immediately and early in the process:

    • Would I listen to this person if they called me?
    • Will they ask prospects questions?
    • When they face a difficult or challenging prospect, do they rattle easily?
    • Would I meet with this person just based on how they handled the phone call?
    • Did they close me for the next step?

These are all critical findings for you to uncover and the only way to do that is to test their phone skills upfront. This process is not impacted by you already knowing them or if they have a great reputation. It does not matter how many years of experience they have or how often they lead the company in sales. What matters is that when you hire someone, they will be able to pick up the phone, grab a prospect's attention, conduct a conversation, and close for an appointment. That is all you should care about early in the recruiting process.

Have more questions about the 5-minute interview process? Email Tony at tony@anthonycoletraining.com, subject line: 5-Minute Interview, and we will be happy
to conduct a demo 5-minute phone interview.

Click Here for Additional Hiring Tools!

Topics: Interviewing, 5 minute interview, hire better salespeople, assessing sales talent

Identifying and Hiring Top Sales Talent

Posted by Alex Cole on Thu, Dec 17, 2020

Finding and hiring great sales talent is difficult. There are many characteristics you must ensure a candidate has in order to be successful with your organization. However, there are a few key attributes you need to look for during the interview process to increase you likelihood of hiring success.

My pup, Rocky, loved to lay on top of pillows. ALL pillows. He didn’t care if they were round, square, flat, cushy, or even sewn on and attached to the back of the couch- he would find a way to lay on them. And though it irritated me to no end, I appreciated his determination. He would do whatever he had to to be on top. He was the epitome of the great sales candidates you should be looking for- except maybe the dog part.  

Rocky Pillows

Great sales candidates will think the same way Rocky did- they have to be on top. They will do whatever it takes to make sure that they are successful. They will find ways to differentiate themselves amongst their peers. The hardest part, however, is being able to spot those great salespeople without wasting a lot of your, or their, time.

A great salesperson should prove to you that they:

  • Can handle themselves well on the phone and won’t get flustered when challenged by a prospect
  • Have a strong will and determination to succeed in their role, with your company, in your selling environment
  • Will ask robust follow-up questions to get the specifics required to properly qualify an opportunity
  • Can close for the next step at the end of the call

Trial the Highly-Predictive  Pre-Hire Sales Assessment

The number one question I ask myself after any interview is this: “Would I like to compete with them in the marketplace?” If the answer is no, strongly consider this individual for a position within your organization. The interviewing process you put candidates through should work to identify these key traits.

What if they don’t have the specific experience you are looking for? Don’t worry! You can train someone on the technical parts of being a banker, relationship manager or insurance rep, but it’s a lot harder to train them to be a great salesperson. 

So, when you are interviewing sales talent, remember Rocky and his never-ending quest for higher, softer ground and his grit to get there. He was the kind of top dog you should look to add to your team.

Click Here for Additional Hiring Tools!

Topics: Interviewing, assessing sales talent, upgrade your sales force, hiring top salespeople

Talent is the Key to Winning Sales Growth Teams

Posted by Tony Cole on Fri, Apr 24, 2020

In this blog article, we discuss the similarities between the NFL Draft and hiring better salespeople and increasing sales.  Like the draft, sales managers must do their best to discover if their potential candidate is a fit not only for the particular sales role, but the organization
as well.

What tests must your next recruit pass to excel on your sales team? What are you doing to ensure that your sales candidates have what it takes to become a top performer? 

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Last night, the first round of the NFL draft took place and here are a few important facts about the event:

  • There are only 224 out of 16,000 eligible draft players
  • Roughly $1.3 Billion in contracts will be negotiated and signed
  • They must participate and attain a certain score in the following;
    • 40-yard dash
    • Bench press (225 lbs x reps)
    • Vertical and broad jump
    • 20 and 60-yard shuttle
    • 3 cone drill
    • Position specific drills
    • 60 interviews in total at 15-minute intervals
    • Physical measurements
    • Injury evaluation
    • Drug screen
    • They Cybex test
    • The Wonderlic test

Not only must the player submit to these evaluations, but keep in mind that their entire college career, has been videotaped.  Statistics on yards, catches, passes, tackles, rushes, etc. are kept and used by professional scouting organizations to determine the likelihood of an athlete having what it takes to make and succeed on an NFL Football Team.

What tests must your next recruit pass to excel on your sales team? What are you doing to ensure that your sales candidates have what it takes to become a top performer?  How much data do you collect, and how reliable is it?  How much interviewing do you do?  And finally, is it consistent enough to eliminate variability in data, thus eliminating variability in hiring and eventually in performance?

In the coming months, I’m guessing that the following are going to happen:

  1. The sales talent pool will be flooded from many industries that suffered partial or complete shut down and had to let people go.
  2. A lot of unqualified salespeople will be hired only to be let go within the following 12 months.

What should you do?

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Take some pointers from the NFL playbook on drafting talent:

  • Know EXACTLY what role you are looking to hire for
  • Know EXACTLY what a candidate has to do in order to succeed in that role
  • Create the ideal job attraction post of the candidate that will execute the role
  • Assess ALL candidates before your interview them for their will to succeed in selling and sales DNA
  • Interview them for most the critical characteristics like:
    • Phone skills
    • Relationship-building
    • Qualifying
    • Closing
  • Have these candidates audition through roleplays and their ability to demonstrate success, recover from rejection and ask questions while listening intently
  • Implement a consistent vetting process that is managed and inspected
  • Prepare them to make a decision when you offer them the position
  • Onboard them as if they are new to the industry and role

I’ve talked to several people today.  All of them told me that they are on a hiring freeze and the companies they work with are also on a hiring freeze. That probably includes you. But this will not last. When it is over, you need to be prepared to act rather than wait until it’s time to start the process all over again. 

Here are some resources to help you hire the best people to be successful in your company:

  1. Access to a free trial of the highly predictive pre-hire sales assessment
  2. Objective Management Groups SmartSizing tool that will help you evaluate who to keep on your team and in which roles

Sign up for a Personalized Demo

Topics: upgrade the sales force, increase sales, assessing sales talent, recruiting sales talent, top sales performers, eliminating variability, hiring top salespeople, building sales team

The High Cost of Replacing Unsuccessful Salespeople

Posted by Tony Cole on Mon, Aug 20, 2018

Before the Salk Vaccine:

“Until 1955, when the Salk vaccine was introduced, Polio was considered one of the most frightening public health problems in the world. In the postwar United States, annual epidemics were increasingly devastating. The 1952 U.S. epidemic was the worst outbreak in the nation's history. Of nearly 58,000 cases reported that year, 3,145 people died and 21,269 were left with mild to disabling paralysis, with most of its victims being children. The "public reaction was to a plague", said historian William L. O'Neill. "Citizens of urban areas were to be terrified every summer when this frightful visitor returned." According to a 2009 PBS documentary, "Apart from the atomic bomb, America's greatest fear was Polio.”

Before the Objective Management Pre-hire assessment:

In the late 1980s, David Kurlan founded the Objective Management Group (OMG). The primary focus of his company was to help sales organizations uncover the root causes for the sales opportunity gap – that variance between how a sales team is performing and how it should be performing. Kurlan’s main objective is to answer the question “will they sell?” That's the essential question every sales interview is geared to answer. So why do we so often end up with salespeople that can't or won't sell despite our best efforts and intentions? 

hiring chart

I'm not trying to compare Polio to hiring salespeople-- just trying to make a point that something dramatic had to happen (a significant change in preventative medicine) to eliminate ‘America’s greatest fear’. Hiring the wrong salespeople is happening today constantly and it’s crippling. Bad hires have an impact on:

  • Top line revenue
  • Profitability
  • Effectiveness of Sales Managers
  • Culture
  • Productivity of the rest of the sales team
  • Wasted time money and effort on training and development

Several years ago I met with a group of financial advisory managers. As part of our meeting we used the Hiring Mistake Calculator to help them determine their specific cost of bad hires. When we finished, I asked the president of the advisory program what number he came up and he said $2,000,000 a year. Based on best estimates, a bad sales hire is a $100,000 to a $1,000,000 mistake. If you are a hiring manager, an HR director with a recruiting team or a president of a company, this 2-comma problem should cause you to realize that a dramatic change is needed.

Everything that the hiring manager and supporting HR team does when attracting, vetting, assessing and selecting salespeople should be focused on ONE thing! Will they sell? Not: Can they sell? Do they know banking? How well do they understand coverage’s and employee benefits? Can they conduct a financial plan? 

Over the years I’ve asked sales managers and presidents this question: How many people that are no longer with you are gone because they didn’t understand insurance, banking or investment advisory. The answer for 25 years has been; Zero! Not a single person was fired or left because they didn’t know the how to of the business. Bad hires are bad hires for 1 primary reason – they can’t or won’t sell. Yes, you will sometimes have cultural, compliance or HR issues but 90% of the time people are exited because they did not perform the basic fundamentals required to be successful in selling.

Click on the links below to learn more about the Objective Management Group assessments and how having a strong recruiting process will help eliminate hiring mistakes!

The OMG Assessment

Eliminate Hiring Mistakes for Outside Salespeople

What Does Your Best Sales Person Look Like

Understanding the Make-Up of Your Current Sales Team

Hire Better Salespeople Recruiting

How to Hire Bankers Who Will Sell

Why is Selling so #%&@ Hard

Topics: OMG assessment, assessing sales talent, #1 sales assessment

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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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