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Recruiting Better Salespeople: The Make-Up of Hall of Famers

Posted by Tony Cole on Fri, Jan 26, 2018

Assuming for a second that when you think about hiring for a position in your organization, you are thinking about hiring the best- especially in the early rounds of looking for talent. No one reasonably goes about writing a job description like this: 

"ABLE Sales Company is looking for the most unbelievably average salespeople we can find. We already have enough top producers and those that are failing. What we really need are some people to bump up the middle of our bell curve. If interested show up and you’ll get a job.”

No, you are not looking for average- you are looking for people who can get your organization to the next level. You’re looking for the best of the best.

Which leads me to today’s story: I was listening to ESPN radio and tuned into The Golic and Wingo Show. They were sharing stories about the Baseball Hall of Fame inductees that a reporter (I didn’t catch the name but it might have been Tim Kurkjian) had heard from each during his time as a sports reporter. I would like to share 3 of those stories with you today and how they are great analogies for recruiting the best of the best.

2018 hall of famers

(Image from Getty Images)

Vladimir Guerrero: Vladimir is a Dominican born in 1975. He arrived to his first professional baseball try-out on a bicycle. He was wearing baseball shoes that didn’t match and one was so big he had to stuff it with socks so that it wouldn’t slip off. He was on the field for 5 minutes hitting, throwing and catching when the scouts told him he was finished. They signed him to a contract and now he’s in the Baseball Hall of Fame. So, how does this relate to recruiting talent?

  • When you got it, you got it
  • Don’t judge a book by it’s cover

Trevor Hoffman: Trevor was born in Bellflower, California in 1967. When he tried out to play professional baseball, he did so as a shortstop. However, after a few minutes of taking the infield, somebody told him he was terrible as a fielding shortstop and he was a weak hitter. They said if he was going to make it in the pros he might want to try pitching. He did and now he’s a Hall of Famer. What’s the hiring lesson here?

  • When interviewing people don’t be afraid to push a button that might upset them. It’s going to happen in their sales career anyway so you might as well find out how they are going to react. Will they absorb the challenge or get emotional?
  • Every candidate you interview and eventually hire is going to come with some warts. What you want to know is – are they coachable?

Chipper Jones: Chipper was born in 1972 in Deland, Florida and played his entire career with the Atlanta Braves. Chipper was the #1 MLB draft pick in 1990. As the story goes, the Braves were ready to make him an offer but his dad was encouraging Chipper to hold off because he could probably get more money from another team. Chipper told his dad that he wanted to be the #1 draft pick and that the money didn’t matter. He knew that he was going to be successful and that he would earn his ‘big’ money based on his performance rather than what another club thought he was worth today. Again, why is this important when hiring salespeople?

  • You have to be patient. Just because it’s hard to find the right person, doesn’t mean you should hire one that is close. Close enough isn’t good enough (you already have some of those on your team and you don't need more).
  • Hire people that are willing to bet on themselves. Often recruiting managers, HR, and recruiters shy away from those that don’t exactly fit the pedigree. When interviewing and working the compensation into the hiring contract, be bold enough to challenge the candidate to put some money at risk. If they are as good as they think they are they will make up for it in spades in the long run.

There is nothing easy about hiring. If you listen to the stories of these recent inductees you will find that there was nothing easy about getting into the Hall of Fame. Congratulations to the 2018 MLB Baseball Hall of Fame Inductees: 

Chipper Jones

Vladimir Guerrero

Jim Thome

Trevor Hoffman

Jack Morris

Alan Trammell

Need more help hiring the best of the best? Download our free Recruiting Success Formula document and Interview Questions guide to improve your recruiting process, today!

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Also, click here to complete the Objective Management Group Hiring Mistake Calculator

Topics: hire better salespeople, recruiting sales talent, building effective sales teams

How to Build a Better Sales Team with Better Salespeople – 3 Critical Steps

Posted by Tony Cole on Mon, Jul 24, 2017


When talking to presidents, executive sales officers and sales managers, I consistently have heard these 5 comments:

  1. I inherited the team I have.
  2. The people that I’ve hired are doing well.
  3. About 10% of the people consistently meet and or exceed goals.
  4. 10% of the sales team is failing miserably.
  5. It’s unreasonable to expect that you can always hire ‘A’ players.

Though we started as, and remain today, a sales training and development company, how to recruit better salespeople was something we needed to add to our business solution toolbox.  As a result, we sought, found and partnered with a firm that is now the provider of the #1 pre-hire sales assessment in the world. What does this have to do with 3 things you must do to build a better sales team?


In order to build an effective sales team to achieve systematic and consistent internal organic sales growth, every organization must do 3 things: 

  1. Make sure that your screening process has predictive validity.
  2. Mitigate future hiring mistakes by implementing a hiring practice designed to disqualify candidates
  3. Implement training and development to help your current sales manager(s) and sales team(s) adapt to overcome gaps in required sales behaviors and skills

REGISTER HERE for "Ruff" Realities Recruiting Webinar

To make these points, let me share with you articles from the Harvard Business Review:

Page 23 of the July/August 2017 HBR Magazine - How to Predict Turnover on Your Sales Team The author is talking to Jay Minks, who is the executive vice president of sales at Insperity – a business performance firm. 

  • HBR – “If you could design a dashboard to manage turnover, what would be on it?”
  • Jay: “Actually, I’d be more interested in data predicting which of the salespeople I hire will succeed; that would be the Holy Grail. Our organization could save millions if we could find a way to use data to drive this number much lower.”

Page 103 of the same magazine.  The article, Managing Climate Change:  Lessons From The U.S. Navy, is about the two approaches being used by the Navy to deal with the impact of global warming over the next 10, 20, 30, 40 and 50 years.  These approaches are Mitigation and Adaptation.

  • Mitigation – refers to actions that reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions that are causing climate change
  • Adaptation – refers to actions that make the organization more resilient in the face of the ongoing and forecasted changes in the earth’s systems

My tendency is to automatically start thinking about how information like this relates to sales and sales management.  In this case, I relate mitigation, adaptation and predictability to the business challenge of How to Recruit Better Salespeople.

Let’s look at just one: Predictability

Here is a simple screen shot from a pre-hire assessment that has been tested to have a 92% predictive validity:


This candidate is not recommended for hire.  Though the assessment indicated that the candidate has a great commitment to success in selling and a great outlook about selling AND takes responsibility for results, this candidate is missing some critical skills in other vital areas. The problem here is that these weaknesses could be hidden by the candidate’s strengths in the areas of hunting and presentation approach.

Mitigation and adaptation steps will vary widely from company to company and industry to industry.  The steps to guide those processes would look like the following:

  • Identify and confirm the severity of the gap between where you are and where you need to be
  • Identify the root cause(s): people, systems, process, or strategy
  • Determine the immediate risk(s) to revenue and profit
  • Generate 1-5 potential people solutions
  • Find a partner/take action

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  • Detailed information about potential breakdowns in systems and process that either help or hurt sales growth
  • Granular information about the strengths, skills, and weaknesses that hurt or help a sales leader be effective at five critical functions: Performance Management, Coaching, Recruiting, Motivating and Growing a Sales Team.
  • Critical information about the structure of a sales team and the potential for growth with the current team
  • Finally, a clear idea of the types of hires you need to make to have a growth-oriented sales team.


Topics: build a better sales team, hire better salespeople, predicting sales team turnover

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.

Yoshi Window-1.jpg

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

Guests, Fish and Job Candidates

Posted by Chuck Smith on Mon, Jun 26, 2017

As the owner of Hire Better Salespeople, one thing I hear consistently from my clients in regards to hiring is “I’m tired of looking through the same set of resumes over and over again.” If you have had the same thought, trust me, you’re not alone. Resume sites are flooded daily with recycled candidates. So, how do you go about finding the new, fresh candidates out in the market place? This week, our guest blogger and one of HBSP partner’s, Chuck Smith, President of NewHire, explains why fresh is best and how to eliminate the rest.-- Tony Cole

I thought it was my mother-in-law, but it turns out to be Benjamin Franklin who said, “Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days.” If you’ve had house guests who’ve overstayed their welcome, I know you will relate. But did you know that the same rule, more or less, applies to candidates for work?

How so?

When we are recruiting to fill an open position, our primary goal is always to find the right person for the job. In fact, we often mean “the right person for the job, RIGHT NOW!” It’s not so helpful if that right person were to be available six months before or six months after.

This is why so many people get frustrated searching for resumes online using LinkedIn, Indeed and Careerbuilder. These sites and others have built businesses based on the idea of aggregating candidate resumes. The sites claim that the ability to search 20, 30 or 100 million resumes is a benefit. I call it a bug. We shouldn’t care about everyone who ever placed a matching keyword on their resume.

We should only care about the actual people interested in our actual job right now. This is what makes the NewHire™ system of recruiting so powerful. Rather than asking you to spend your valuable, limited time going from site to site (at great expense for access) searching for matching candidates among millions and millions of non-matching candidates, NewHire™ brings the candidates to you. Small databases of candidates who have expressed interest in your job. These candidates are prescreened, pre-qualified candidates who have already answered many of the key questions you have for them.

NewHire was invented to help employers recruit and screen candidates for very specific, time-bound open positions. Stop searching resumes and start getting matching candidates with Hire Better Salespeople and NewHire.

Sourcing great, qualified candidates is only a piece of the very complicated puzzle. At Hire Better Salespeople, we work with our clients to: learn the intimate details of the position, build a compelling job attraction post, call on active as well as passive job seekers, assess applicants based on the specific job criteria, disqualify and vet candidates, provide initial interviewing support and administer onboarding and coaching for your new hire. Visit our site TODAY to learn more! 

DOWNLOAD FREE eBook -  How to Hire Advisors Who Will Sell More

Topics: New hires, hire better salespeople, aquire sales candidates

Fixing a Broken Sales Environment with 3 Essential Sales Tools

Posted by Tony Cole on Fri, May 12, 2017

The 3 Es

work on1.png


  1. Speed to failure
  2. Conversation is still king (the person with the best conversation wins)
  3. Technology that supports SELLING – NOT finance

Before I get to the 3 essential sales tools, consider for a moment all the systems and processes you have in your organization:

  • IT
  • Communication
  • Marketing
  • Finance
  • Physical plant
  • Hiring
  • Technical training
  • Underwriting
  • Risk management
  • Sales
  • Customer service

(Also watch this video – it is worth every minute of your invested time).   


I know the list above isn’t a complete list, but let’s pretend for a minute that you just invested $500,000 in new technology.  It could be a website enhancement, new finance applications to improve billing and financial projections, improved communication equipment or a sales CRM.

Let’s pretend that the investment was for finance.  Your expectations are to “tighten up” the reporting on payables, receivables, compensation reports, taxes and forecasting.  The company you bought the service from told you that it would probably take about 90 days to work any bugs out, but certainly, by year end, your expectations would be met.  You meet with your CFO and ask, “How’s it going?”  She responds, “Pretty good!”  You then inquire, “Pretty good means?”  She replies:

  • Our payable reports are about 66% correct, but trending the right direction.
  • Our overdue receivables still average 45 days, but we’re making progress.
  • Our compensation expenses are off by about 5% and we’re not sure why, but we’re working on it.
  • Taxes? Well, my best guess is that we are going to owe between 10% and 20% more than last year.
  • As far as forecasting revenue, well…our pipeline shows $5,000,000 to be closed in the next 6 months, but we’re not confident that the number is accurate.

How do you feel about your investment?  What is your reaction to a complete lack of success at meeting expectations?  Whose head is on the block as a result of this?  How long would you tolerate the continuance of this failure?  I’m not sure you’d fire your CFO, CTO, President, HR or your consultant, but I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t say, “Okay, let’s give it another 30 days.”


I know I created a bit of a stretch scenario, but the point I want to make is that you probably get a report like this about your sales team; you just don’t know it.  What isn’t revealed in a sales meeting or in your monthly meeting with your sales manager is the detail behind the big numbers you talk about.  You talk about year over year results, you talk about sales YTD against plan, you might even talk about how you are doing against other sales divisions or peers in your industry.  What you don’t talk about is this:

  • Over 90% of your results are probably coming from 36% of your sales team. (LinkedIn article on the 80/20 of the 80/20).
  • What doesn’t get reported that would make you jump out a window is that the bottom 36% of your sales team is probably responsible for less than 4% of your total sales.
  • What the sales manager doesn't tell you is that - of the last 4 hires - only 1 of them is doing better than the people that were replaced with the new hires.
  • What you won’t talk about - but need to talk about - is the cost of putting the other 3 in the market for 12 months and then the cost of replacing them with 3 more that won’t make it either. (By the way, over a 5-year period, that is a 2 comma problem).
  • What is also probably not part of the discussion is that, if you really wanted to drive profit, you could probably eliminate the bottom 36% and increase profitability significantly.
  • You probably won’t have a discussion about how some of your more senior people are not performing nearly as well as some of your new people.


The challenge to organizations (and what matters most) is the answer to the question:  Are we hitting our numbers?  As long as that answer is yes, you’re okay.  BUT, if you are unwilling to accept 90% correct in your tax estimate or compensation projections… or 90% of the calls getting through or 75% of the customers being happy… or your website being operational 66% of the time, why are you settling for anything less than 100% execution from your entire sales team?

What I know and what I’ve stated before:

  • You don’t intentionally hire sales people to fail; so, if they do…
  • You either hired them that way or…
  • You made them that way


What does this have to do with the 3 Essential Sales Tools?  Maybe not everything, but these 3 tools have a lot to do with fixing a broken sales environment.

  • Speed to failure – With your new hires, do your best to find out quickly if both of you made the right decision. Make sure that, as you are making the offer, you let them know all the crap they are going to have to go through, what they will be managed to and what is exactly expected in the first 90 days and the following 6 months.  Let them know that the hire is going to be probationary and that you have a 3 Strike Rule.  (Call me at 513.226.3913 about the 3 Strike Rule).
  • Conversation is KING – Despite all the technology that is available to help your salespeople create opportunities, nothing yet has replaced the value of quality conversations. This means you need to have a very high standard for training, practice and preparation before you put people out into the market.
  • The technology that you buy to support sales has to support sales not finance. Finance should find its way to use the appropriate sales tool to get the information they need not the other way around.  Your sales technology should make it easy for salespeople to communicate to suspects, prospects and clients.  It should be easy to use and provide extremely useful information for the sales manager as well as salespeople.  It should make it easy for your people to consistently follow your sales process.  Finally, it should help you predict with a high level of validity what is actually going to get sold over any given time frame.

Implementing these three sales tools will go a long way to helping you improve your sales environment and improve the productivity of the entire team.  In my next blog – What do you know (really know) about your sales manager’s and your team’s WILL TO SUCCEED in sales management and sales?


Call 513.791.3458 now to get a copy of a recent case study on Will to Succeed and the productivity of the sales organization –Ask to speak to Jeni.

Find out about the WILL of your sales team as defined by The World’s #1 Sales Skills and Sales Manager Skills Assessment

Find out about the #1 Assessment HERE

Topics: consistent sales results, developing sales talent, hire better salespeople, predictable sales growth

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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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