ACTG Sales Management Blog

Sales & Sales Management Expertise Blog  

What Recruiting in the “New Normal” Looks and Sounds Like

Posted by Kelly Barcelos on Wed, Jul 29, 2020

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The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about many changes. While some businesses have hit rock bottom, some are thriving and hiring at scale. Businesses in customer care, retail, healthcare, digital marketing, and online training industries are actively hiring because of the new market demands. But unfortunately, recruitment techniques that have been used for years aren’t the same anymore. The need for social distancing has made recruiters and HR professionals work from home, making the shift inevitable. Let’s understand how things have changed.

How has recruitment changed now that COVID-19 is here?

Before the pandemic hit the entire world, recruitment couldn’t be imagined without face-to-face interviews. But considering the criticality of the situation, organizations are adapting to new methods of recruitment to prevent the spread of the virus. Let’s understand how.

Virtual Recruitment: Once a prospective candidate is found, HR professionals are conducting virtual interviews in which the candidates need not visit the corporate office for the interview process. Instead, interviews are happening over video calls.

There are quite a few reliable virtual interview apps that allow scheduling and sending interview invitations, and then interviewing candidates over a video call. Some platforms also allow having virtual job fairs in which several candidates can join a chat room at once and recruiters can get to know them. Moreover, virtual interviews are equally interactive since the HR professional can assess body language, expressions, and gestures, just as they would in an in-person interview.

Candidate Experience: Now that traditional interviews are slowly becoming a thing of the past, HR professionals are going the extra mile to ensure good candidate experience. Here are a few tips that you can also use to deliver good candidate experience if you’re currently hiring:

  • Use consistent content or messaging across all channels to communicate how you’re taking effective measures to ensure the safety of candidates. This will also empower you as a brand.
  • Provide candidate resources that would help them appear in the virtual interview without any hassle. For example, help them get access to the software or give them a simple guide for the interview process.
  • Do not delay interviews hoping that you will soon be able to conduct an in-person interview. Your competitors may take advantage of every minute you lose and it will also have a negative impression on the candidate.
  • Build a landing page to which the candidates can be directed to for answers to questions they may have.

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Applicant Tracking System: Using an ATS (Applicant Tracking System) is one of the most important recruitment techniques if you’re hiring at scale. It will allow you to work remotely and also make sure that you have the “right” candidate. During the pandemic, employers are hiring based on their fluctuating requirements. For example, many are hiring for flexible roles that may change post-pandemic and many are also hiring candidates on a contractual basis. And an ATS will help you screen the applications based exactly on your requirements so that you don’t unnecessarily spend time and resources on irrelevant applications. Moreover, you can also leverage its other benefits, such as:

  • One-click job posting
  • Resumes and applications repository
  • Seamless interview scheduling
  • Automated resume parsing
  • Automated emails and follow-ups
  • Analytics for conversion rate

Remote Onboarding: Remote work has become a new trending order to minimize physical interaction as much as possible. And to ensure safety even further, employees are being onboarded digitally without having to even set foot in the workplace. But this isn’t as easy as it sounds. To make onboarding seamless, you must:

  • Make training is available to new employees so that they can adapt well.
  • Give them some time to absorb all the information.
  • Communicate the organization’s culture to the new employee.

How you onboard a new employee can make a lot of difference since it can make or break the employee experience. Without it, you can’t say that you have made a successful hire.

Avoid common mistakes and form a new recruitment strategy that adapts to the changes as quickly as you can, because how you do it will determine the future of your organization.

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Author Bio:
Kelly Barcelos is a progressive digital marketing manager specializing in HR and is responsible for leading Jobsoid’s content and social media team. When Kelly is not building campaigns, she is busy creating content and preparing PR topics. She started with Jobsoid as a social media strategist and eventually took over the entire digital marketing team with her innovative approach and technical expertise.

Topics: hiring salespeople, key to successful hiring, recruiting sales talent, upgrade your sales force, hiring top salespeople, aquire sales candidates

Why Are My Salespeople Not Perfoming as Expected?

Posted by Tony Cole on Fri, Jun 26, 2020

Why do so many of my salespeople fail to perform as expected?  It's a loaded question.  Or, is it?  In our corporate sales training experience, we've seen that evaluating underperforming salespeople in the pre-hire sales assessment is crucial for success in your business.

From poor diagnosis of the right contributing factors for success, to other candidates being eliminated due to weaknesses rather than hiring on sales STRENGTHS, there are specific reasons that not all of your salespeople are performing the way that you thought they would.

Did you hire them this way or did you make them this way?  Let's take a look...

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If you are a sales leader and you look at your numbers and the people producing those numbers, do you ever scratch your head in confusion over why you are looking at a lack of sales results?

Certainly, you didn’t hire these people to be in the middle of the pack or at the tail end of the conga line, but that is right where they are.  I know you don’t believe you hired them that way, but it’s either that, or you made them that way.

Don’t get upset with me here.  The reality is that your team’s performance is a result of who you’ve hired or what you’ve done (or not done).

So, in general, why do so many salespeople fail to perform? I have detailed answers to that question that you will be hard pressed to find anywhere else besides right here.

  • Underperformers have 80% of the desire of top performers. *Note – not all performers have off-the-chart desire – that is about 7% of all top sales people.
  • Those that underperform have about 44% of the commitment to succeed in selling that top performers do.
  • These two factors combine to measure motivational level. Underperformers have about 60% of the motivation of your top people.

SUMMARY – Underperformers just are not as motivated to succeed.

SOLUTION – STOP hiring people that are not motivated to succeed at the highest level of performance!

Using the Objective Management Sales Evaluation, there are over 100 data points to measure the opportunity for sales growth of a sales team/organization.  Additionally, this data helps us to predict the likelihood of success of new sales people and managers. 

Here are some interesting findings based on the raw data I have from assessing salespeople (as well as firsthand knowledge of some of the people in the study).

  • Top performers are trainable and coachable
  • Top performers have a high figure-it-out factor
  • Top performers have a low need for approval and…
  • Top performers score an average of 86.8 (higher score is better) and underperformers score 39.6 for handling rejection!
  • Top performers are hunters, consultative sellers and closers (average score for skills is 55% of required skills while underperformers average 39.6% of required skills)

SUMMARY  Salespeople – regardless of tenure or previous success - need training and coaching. Also top performers handle rejection extremely well and move on.

SOLUTION  Do not hire based on past performance. (It’s like investing in a mutual fund – past performance is not a guarantee of future returns.)  During the interview process, reject the heck out of the candidate – the strong ones will recover and attempt to close you over and over again!

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The following data indicates that sales strengths are better indicators of success rather than sales skills:

  • Underperformers have 85% of the sales skills of top performers and have…
  • Only 71% of the sales strengths that support execution of sales skills and…
  • The severity of their sales weaknesses are 52% higher than that of top performers

SUMMARY – The skills are about the same, but those with strong strengths of desire, commitment, outlook and responsibility win.

SOLUTION – Make sure your pre-hire assessment process looks for strengths and “will sell” rather than just skills, personality and behavioral traits.

So, back to the original question:   “Why do so many of my salespeople fail to perform as expected?”:

  • Poor diagnosis of the right contributing factors for success
  • Candidates eliminated due to weaknesses rather than hiring for sales strengths
  • Too much credit given to sales skills exhibited during interview process
  • Lack of solid training and development on the root causes of poor performance

Now that you have the answers to the question, what will you do about it?

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Develop Your Sales Pipeline to Increase Sales

Posted by Jack Kasel on Mon, Jun 01, 2020

Sales pipelines are similar to the story of "Goldilocks and the Three Bears. " This one is too fat, this one is too skinny, and the rarest one of all; this one's just right. 

Why does this happen with pipelines and what should leaders be doing about it?  In today's blog, we discuss developing better pipelines to improve your coaching skills, increase sales within your organization, and to build better habits in 2020 and beyond.

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Fat Pipelines

This usually results from the overly optimistic salesperson.  They call on a prospect and come back thinking some iteration of this, “We really hit it off . . . They really liked what we can do . . . We have a LOT in common”. 

Another cause for a fat pipeline is that it feels like comfort food.  Their pipeline has $X amount in it and they feel pretty good about it.  I mean, come on, some of it has to close doesn’t it?  This type of thinking gives them great comfort.  Pipelines need two things:

  • The proper amount given their ability to win business (close ratio)
  • It must be properly staged

Here is where your leadership plays a critical role.  Your skills at asking great questions are absolutely essential.  Tone and tonality are of paramount importance, AND they must be fierce and helpful.  Questions like:

  • What did you hear the customer say that leads you to believe they would be a great customer for us?
  • When you asked them the impact of not fixing this problem, what did they say?
  • Who else in their organization will be impacted if they switch providers?
  • What did they say when you asked about their decision making criteria (not process, criteria, there is a difference)
  • When is the last time they chose a supplier that wasn’t the lowest cost?
  • How much is in their budget to make this problem go away
  • When asked them “How do you envision working with us”, what was their response?
  • How did they choose their current provider?

Never EVER ask, “How’d the call go?” It’s a waste of time.  Be great at asking questions.  By asking great questions, you are coaching your salespeople.  The questions listed above are the type of questions they should be asking the prospect.  Your coaching session is nothing but a sales call.  Be curious and when you coach, simply keep this in mind when meeting with your team, “Am I asking questions or am I making statements?”

Also, by asking great questions to your team, you find out where your people need to be coached.  If you hear your salesperson say, “I didn’t ask that question” during your pipeline discussions, you need to find out if they are unable to ask those questions (they need more sales training) OR if are they unwilling to ask those questions.

Skinny Pipelines

There are two main reasons that a salesperson might have a “skinny pipeline”.  They are getting beat up if something doesn’t close, or their activity isn’t where it needs to be.  My question to you as a leader is, “When a piece of business doesn’t close, what does your lost business conversation sound like?” 

There is no sin in losing a sale, the only sin that occurs is if nothing is learned from it.  Don’t let one loss beat you twice.  A couple of quick questions “What did you learn?” and “How will you get better because of it?” 

The other reason for a skinny pipeline is activity.  What are you measuring, how frequently are you measuring it (you need to measure weekly), and are you allowing excuses for poor effort?  Salespeople fail for two reasons:  Lack of Effort and/or Lack of Execution.  You need to know which it is. 

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Just Right Pipelines

These types of pipelines are the rarest of all because they require the salesperson and manager to have a great and open relationship, while staying committed to their sales process and understanding the metrics needed to win business.  For the salesperson, they need to understand what is their late-stage (close in 30 days) win ratio?  If their late-stage win ratio is 50% and their monthly goal is $100,000, they need to have a minimum of $200,000 in late-stage opportunity each month.   

The only reason a “Just Right” pipeline is possible because the salesperson is finding opportunities all-the-time.  They understand prospecting is an all-the-time thing.  They are constantly making calls, asking for introductions, and networking.  

It’s healthy to have a pipeline “flush” on a regular basis.  An opportunity moves through the pipeline or moves out of the pipeline on a regular basis.  If a salesperson wants to cling to an opportunity, and want to defend keeping it their pipeline, is probably because they have nothing else to take its place.   Coach them, encourage them, challenge them.

 

Topics: sales force development, Sales Coaching, hiring better salespeople, hiring top salespeople, consultative selling, banking sales training, consultative sales coaching, corporate sales training, sales force performance management, sales training courses, insurance sales training, 5 keys to sales coaching, sales force performance evaluation, consultative sales coaching cincinnati, consultative selling cincinnati, banking sales training cincinnati, corporate sales training cincinnati, sales coaching cincinnati, sales management training cincinnati, sales productivity tools cincinnati, sales training programs cincinnati, sales training workshops cincinnati, train the trainer cincinnati, hiring sales people cincinnati, increase sales cincinnati, professional sales training cincinnati, sales candidate assessment cincinnati, sales effectiveness training cincinnati, sales force performance evaluation cincinnati, sales performance management cincinnati, sales training cincinnati, sales training courses cincinnati, sales training seminars cincinnati

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

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

How Do I Hire a Sales All-Star?

Posted by Tony Cole on Mon, Jun 17, 2019

Hiring an elite salesperson is tough work.  It's not easy to find a sales all-star and it's even harder to keep them on board if you do hire them.  

In this article, we provide 8 reasons why hiring elite salespeople is difficult and the exact steps needed to hire them in your organization.

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8 Reasons Why Hiring Elite Salespeople is Difficult:

  1. It's hard to find qualified candidates - only 7% of salespeople fall into the “elite” category (What elite sales people do differently)
  2. You have other responsibilities
  3. If things are “okay”, you don’t look for someone… until you have an opening and then you feel desperate to fill the seat
  4. Elite sales professionals – those with excellent sales skills – often are not actively looking for new jobs
  5. The resumes all look the same
  6. Personality and behavioral tests tell you how they like to be managed but don’t have any predictive validity for sales success
  7. Your HR (talent-acquisition partners) really don’t understand why hiring salespeople is different than hiring anyone else for a company
  8. It’s not your go-to skill set.

how to hire top salespeople

Step 1: Make sure you know and identify exactly what sales skills make your elite salespeople ELITE salespeople. 

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We just completed a Sales Effectiveness and Improvement Analysis (SEIA) for the private banking segment of a regional bank.  This is what we know separates the top performers from the bottom performers:

Distinguishing skills and sales traits of top performers

  • Hunter
  • Possess over 50% of required sales skills
  • Strong at getting introductions
  • Get past gate keepers
  • Maintain a full pipeline (convert activity – prospecting – into opportunities)
  • Reach decision makers
  • Develop trust and confidence early in the relationship
  • Present product proposal at the appropriate time
  • Keep prospects from buying too early in the process
  • Not reliant on ‘”educating” the prospect or presenting to get the business
  • Love competing against others

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We evaluate over 125 different data points when using a pre-hire sales skills inventory assessment and what we have found over the years is that there are usually between 20 and 30 variables that separate the best from the rest. THIS is the first step in making sure you are interviewing candidates with sales skills needed to succeed in your organization.

 

Step 2:  Interview for fundamental skillsOnce you’ve received an application or some notice of interest in your available career opportunity, you send the candidate a notice letting them know you’ve received their information and that, in order to move forward in the process, two steps will take place:

  1. They will be asked to complete the online sales skills inventory assessment.
  2. If the assessment findings indicate that their sales skills match what you are looking for, then a 10-minute phone interview will take place.

 

Why The Phone Interview

At Hire Better Sales People (White Paper), this is the beginning of Step #2.  In the 23 years of our sales consulting practice, I cannot recall a single client where phone skills were NOT critical to the success of the salespeople being hired.  With that in mind, it stands to reason that the first thing you should look/screen for are their phone skills.  Most of the time, our clients outsource that to us. The reasons for that are:

  • Consistency
  • Lack of a bias towards any candidate

In the phone interview, you want to make sure that this person can conduct themselves on the phone like you would expect them to when talking to prospects.  In order to do that, you must create a similar environment that the candidate will have to react to: 

  • No bonding and rapport done by the interviewer
  • Create time pressure so that they have to react and attempt to take control of the phone call
  • Challenge them on their answers to questions (certainly, prospects will ask them questions on the phone – wouldn’t you want to know how well they react as well as what they say?)
  • Let them know that you will be making a decision about who will go on to the interview step and see if the candidate attempts to “close” for that opportunity. If they fail to close for the next step, they will probably fail to close a prospect for an appointment.

 

Step #3 – Use the data from the resume, the application and the pre-hire skills assessment.

Top salespeople hunt for opportunities, reach decision makers, quickly establish confidence and trust, love to compete against others, have strong desire and commitment to success in selling, take responsibility for outcomes, are highly motivated for success in sales, and have a high figure-it-out factor.  Here’s some ideas for assessing these traits in potential candidates:

  • Make the candidate bring their calendar for the next 30 days and make them count the number of new business appointments they have scheduled
  • Make them establish the bonding and rapport. Tell them to take a seat, tell them that you’ve scheduled 60 minutes, but it may only take 30, and see what they do next.  If bonding, rapport, confidence and trust are important, see what your candidates do to make that happen.
  • Ask about competitions they have won
  • Tell them to describe in detail situations where they did everything possible to succeed at something especially when they had to change, overcome a difficult challenge and they overcame despite terrific odds.
  • Ask them to tell you about a situation when they faced failure at accomplishing something personally or professionally. (Hint – they need to say “I failed…”)
  • Give them a test of any kind and see how long it takes for them to figure it out or…
  • Create a role-play scenario out of thin air, give them a couple of minutes to figure out how they want to go about the role -play and then role play.

There is certainly no guarantee for any new hire.  You still have to consider cultural and team fit.  Is there synergy between the new hire and the hiring manager?  How about their technical and professional credentials? 

We’re just talking about sales skills here, but, to be clear, it’s rare that someone fails to succeed in selling because they lacked the required technical or professional expertise for the field they were in.  Nope… people normally fail because they fail to generate sales!

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Topics: hiring, hiring better, hiring salespeople, find salespeople, hiring top salespeople

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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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