ACTG Sales Management Blog

Sales & Sales Management Expertise Blog  

The 9 Do’s of Better Hiring: An Alternate Perspective to LinkedIn’s Talent Solutions 9 Mistakes

Posted by Tony Cole on Thu, Jan 05, 2023

I would like to provide you with an alternate perspective to LinkedIn's article- a list of 9 Do’s you can use when looking for and hiring new talent. Because we specialize in helping companies Sell Better, Coach Better, and Hire Better, my comments will focus specifically on sales but understand that these principles will apply for most hires in your company.  

Linkedin Talent Solutions wrote this article focusing on the mistakes or “don'ts” of hiring talent. The Linkedin Talent Solutions 9 mistakes include:

  1. Your hiring team’s roles aren’t clearly defined
  2. Your job post isn’t clear or compelling enough
  3. You’re not targeting your job post to the right audience
  4. You’re not tapping into your personal LinkedIn network
  5. You’re not revealing what makes your company unique
  6. You ignored red flags during the interviews – the first interview should be based on what they must be great at
  7. You’re not getting to know the candidate
  8. Your evaluation criteria is unclear
  9. You don’t close the loop with all applicants

We have a Hire Better Salespeople program that helps our clients who are working to upgrade their sales teams. We train our clients on how to identify, and understand the importance of, people who are strong in the following areas:

  • Hunting for new opportunities
  • Relationship building
  • Consultative selling
  • Selling value
  • Qualifying
  • Presenting
  • Closing
  • Following a consistent sales process
  • Managing accounts
  • Farming opportunities  

Using the LinkedIn article as a guide, I would like to provide you with an alternate perspective- a list of 9 Do’s you can use when looking for and hiring new talent. Because we specialize in helping companies Sell Better, Coach Better, and Hire Better, my comments will focus specifically on sales but understand that these principles will apply for most hires in your company.  

1. Most companies don’t have a “hiring team”. They have people who, when the moment occurs, participate in some aspect of the hiring process. With that as the most common model, what we strongly suggest you do is:
  • Make sure the same people execute the same role, every time.
  • Make sure the people you assign have the skills required for that role. For example, your interviewer must be willing to ask challenging questions, be able to disqualify candidates, have a great deal of healthy skepticism, etc.
2. Your job post is probably a job description. That is the fundamental flaw. It ties very closely to #5 – revealing what makes your company unique. If you are attempting to position your company as unique in the marketplace, then start with what we call the “job attraction post”. The job attraction post will be compelling if:

  • It works to disqualify candidates.
  • Instead of selling the position, it states what the candidate is required to SUCCEED at rather than have experience doing (You will get people with the experience, but they probably have a failing experience). Have a list of “must haves”- must demonstrate the ability to, has a proven track record of, etc.
  • In the case of salespeople, we would write the following in the job attraction post; “Must have a strong desire and commitment to be highly successful in selling in a very competitive market, selling high quality, high priced, non-tangible business solutions to prospects that are price-focused, difficult to get in front of, and tend to “shop around.” You must be very comfortable working in an environment where you are expected to manage yourself to success, undergo high pressure to hit goals and be coached by your manager to improve skills and change behaviors. During the interview, you will be expected to roleplay your outreach phone call and initial qualifying conversation with a prospect that already has a great relationship with the incumbent.

3. Target your job attraction post to people that have success selling in verticals that you sell to or have great relationships in your market EVEN if they haven’t sold your product in the past.

4. Simply put, it makes sense to reach out to people you know. But make sure they know what you are looking for.

5. Make sure you look at other job postings in your space and commit yourself to writing something that would cause you (if you were a candidate looking for a TRANSFORMATIONAL career change) to think or say: “wow, now that’s a challenge, that’s something I need to investigate.” NOTE: Also, make sure your job attraction post scares off candidates just looking for a bigger payday or an opportunity to negotiate against their current employer. See #9.

6. To help you with RED flags, identify in advance what the candidate must be able to demonstrate they can do. For example:

  • If they have to be great on the phone, your first interview step MUST be a phone interview.
  • If they must be able to close on the phone, make sure they close for the next step during the phone interview.
  • If you expect them to establish bonding and rapport on the first call, make them do that when they walk into the room for your first face-to-face interview. Make them do the hard work.
  • If they must be great at asking questions, take note of the number and quality of questions they ask during the interview process (other than ones about compensation, vacation, CRM, benefits, etc).

It is also critical to identify in advance what you want to hear from your candidate:  

  • I have 30 new appointments a month. I’m passionate about success in sales because I have huge dreams and goals for myself and my… which require a lot of money.
  • When I fail, it’s because of something I didn’t do.
  • I make sure that I know the budget the prospect has before I ever present a solution.
    I call on nothing but CEOs and Presidents.

Next, write down the questions you need to ask to get the answers you are looking for. What you should be looking for (link to sample pre-hire sales evaluation)

  • Will to sell
  • Sales DNA
  • Sales competencies


7. Getting to know the real candidate can be misinterpreted as having a personal discussion with them to find out how likable they are. Too often candidates proceed through the interview process because interviewers “liked them”. Being likable is helpful but not as critical as willingness and ability to:

  • Hunt for new business
  • Qualify prospects by asking enough, and the right, questions
  • Ability to call at the decision-making level
  • Close for the next step
8. Have clear evaluation criteria based on what the candidate must be able to prove they’ve done, what skills they must demonstrate, and how they handle difficult, challenging questions. The best way to do this is to create a scorecard that everyone must complete when interviewing candidates. In addition, use a pre-hire evaluation tool to give you insight into items you can’t see or hear in the interview. I.e.: problems discussing money, uncomfortable making quick decisions, would rather be liked than get the business, etc.

9. “Closing the loop” in our world means making sure the candidate is always closing for the next step. Make sure you completely define your decision-making process (like the one below) and gain an agreement to that process:

  1. Identify the candidate's compelling reason for looking at your opportunity.
  2. What are the monetary, and contractual considerations that have to be met?
  3. Deal with competition: Current employer, other opportunities they are considering, etc.
  4. Present everything there is to know about the opportunity and make sure that it is a career change the candidate would make if the monetary and contractual considerations were met
  5. Allow them to think it over before making your offer
  6. Make an offer that meets their criteria
  7. Ask them to decide once the offer is made

If you would like to attend a zoom meeting webinar to learn more about Hiring Better reply to this post, or email Alex Cole-Murphy, our Hiring Manager, at


Copy of Copy of White and Blue Did You Know Interesting Fact Instagram Post-1


Topics: hiring, relationship selling, Sales Management Training

Relationship Selling is the Key to Your Sales Challenges

Posted by Tony Cole on Thu, Jun 02, 2022

Most organizations and advisors have been working long term to be more customer-focused. The challenge is for advisors to be productive and assertive without coming across to customers as sales-driven.

One of the key sales challenges is to stay focused on adding value and leading with relationship selling.


In today’s volatile markets, one of the key sales challenges is to stay focused on adding value and leading with relationship selling. This is not new news to those of us who work in sales. In fact, most organizations and advisors have been working long term to be more customer-focused. The challenge is for advisors to be productive and assertive without coming across to customers as sales-driven.

Assertive (not aggressive) salespeople win more business than others. These people care so much about doing the right thing for their clients that they are willing to risk the relationship and the sale to ensure the prospect or customer makes good decisions. Does this describe you? This is the essence of relationship selling.

What does assertiveness have to do with relationship selling?  In a word, EVERYTHING. If done properly, the early conversations and meetings will help to qualify or eliminate a suspect. This will save time for those prospects who are really not prospects as well as streamline your efforts and pipeline, giving you more time and energy to focus on finding more and better prospects for whom you can solve problems. One of the biggest sales challenges for many salespeople is spending time on unqualified prospects who will never buy.

In initial “assertive” conversations, you must be gathering information that leads to a full understanding of what pain or problems your prospect has to solve, what they have done to address those, and what their current provider has done to help. It is only through the intelligence that is gained and utilized in these conversations that will lead to long-term mutually beneficial relationships.

In this discovery process, the skill of asking the right questions, the right way, at the right time is critical.  In our selling system, for a prospect to qualify, they must:

  1. Have compelling reasons to buy, make a change, or do something different
  2. Have the capability and willingness to invest the necessary time, money, and effort
  3. Be willing and able to make the decision to fix the problem, AND be able and willing to make the money decision

There are lots of questions that need to be asked to find out if the prospect qualifies in these three areas.  Some of these questions require a salesperson to be assertive.  Questions such as:

  • “How will you go about telling your current broker/banker/relationship that you are no longer going to do business with them?”
  • “If you don’t have the money, how will you solve the problem?”
  • “The budget you have won’t be enough to get you the outcome you want. What part of the solution do you want to eliminate?”
  • “What will you tell your partner when they say they don’t want to make the change?”

Imagine if you were gutsy enough to have these types of conversations. What would happen?  You might fear that you would lose more business. But suppose that wasn’t the case.  Suppose by being more assertive, you are actually helping the prospect by discovering what is in the way of them reaching their objectives.  Suppose this leads to the elimination of think-it-overs and actually helped people to make decisions.  Imagine that you stopped making presentations to people who could only say “no” and never had the authority or intention of saying “yes”.  What would happen?

You would sell more and build stronger relationships.

Download your Personal & Business Work Plan for Free

Topics: relationship selling, sales challenges

Leading a Sales Team: 10 Keys to Success (Part 1)

Posted by Jeni Wehrmeyer on Thu, May 12, 2022

This article is the 1st place winner of the 2022 Sales Pro Central MVP Awards on Sales Leadership!

In our sales management training, we have developed 10 keys and a framework of activities that provide a new or tenured sales leader with a roadmap they need to put in place to help lead their team to greater sales success.

Screen Shot 2022-03-08 at 10.18.18 AM

Most companies engage in sales training, but we have found over our 29 years of business that few invest in sales management training. In part, due to the theory that a successful salesperson can transition to teaching and coaching others to do the same. This theory is flawed because there are very different skills required of sales managers than salespeople- the most important being the driving desire to develop and achieve success through others. Both roles do include a focus on relationship selling and the ability to quickly and effectively find and develop a bond with others. However, the core skills of a sales manager involve understanding how to transition from actively doing to teaching and coaching. In our sales management training, we have developed a framework of activities that provide a new or tenured sales leader with specific activities they need to put in place to help lead their team to greater success.

Here are 10 keys to success for leading a sales team:

  1. Guiding the team to set extraordinary goals
  2. Managing excuse-making
  3. Understanding the Will to Sell and Sales DNA factors beneath sales behavior
  4. Following a coaching process
  5. Coaching the deal and coaching for skill development
  6. Establishing personal and business goal setting
  7. Leading consistent sales huddles
  8. Creating a hiring profile and having a candidate pipeline
  9. Coaching a stage-based sales process
  10. The shadow of the leader

Guiding the team to set extraordinary goals: One of the biggest complaints of most salespeople is that their goals are set by the company and are not realistic. What is interesting about that is if a sales leader effectively takes their salespeople through a process of establishing their own goals, salespeople will typically set them higher than the company might. In our sales management training, we help managers with a specific approach of establishing Extraordinary Goals. Utilizing a matrix like the one below, a sales manager begins by asking the salesperson what a good goal for their year is, then discusses poor and failing levels. Once those are established they have a conversation about what an Excellent year would look like and then what an Extraordinary year would be. Numbers are essential, along with a discussion of what would be needed to achieve these levels. Once all those numbers are established the sales leader asks the salespeople to which level they want to be managed and coached. Most high-performing salespeople will choose the top level. The key, however, is the sales leader must ask the salesperson if they will allow them to be coached to that level, and gains the understanding that it will be hard and challenging. Utilizing this process, the salesperson has established their own goal and will be more committed to doing what it takes to achieve it.

CSFManaging excuse-making: We all make excuses, but one of the skills of top-performing salespeople is their ability to own their outcomes and results. In our sales management training, we help sales leaders understand the commitment levels of their salespeople and then how to coach to those various levels. We can all recognize some salespeople will do Whatever It Takes, which we call WIT. These salespeople rarely, if ever, blame the market, the company, or anything other than their actions for lack of success. So here is the strategy. When asked, "Why do you think you did not reach your annual goal, Joe?” Joe says, “Look how many accounts I am managing! How can I do this client servicing work and still bring in new business?” The sales manager replies, “If I did not let you use that excuse, what would you have done differently?” This approach reaps great success because it puts the ball squarely back in the salesperson's court, and they must think about how they could have adjusted their activities to achieve a different result. They must own it.

Understanding the Will to Sell and Sales DNA factors beneath sales behavior: When a salesperson does not prospect enough, avoids asking about the budget in the sales process, or does not ask enough strong qualifying questions, it is often the result of their underlying Will to Sell and Sales DNA. It is impossible to coach these behaviors without understanding what lies beneath the salesperson's actions. Relationship selling is a complex skill, and a sales coach will want to understand these underlying factors about their salespeople to effectively coach them to higher levels of performance. For example, if a salesperson does not believe that they have the right to ask budget questions or is uncomfortable doing so (uncomfortable discussing money), they won't ask. It is easy to teach a technique and help them with questions they can be comfortable with once they understand what is getting in their way.

Will to Sell & Sales DNA-1

Following a Coaching Process: Much like mastering a sport like golf and tennis, there are different styles and approaches, but there are technical factors involved in becoming adept at these sports. Similarly, in our sales management training, we help sales leaders with the technical side of coaching with a 5-step coaching process. Yes, they must be adept at each of these steps below, but if they commit to coaching their salespeople in this manner, they will see a lift.
  1. Gain insight: find out what is happening or not happening through huddle data or observational coaching, schedule a coaching session
  2. Provide feedback: have quality conversations that are timely and specific, asking questions of their salespeople to help them self-discover, and gain agreement on the real problems
  3. Demonstrate and instruct: Identify skill gaps, demonstrate mastery of the skill, and instruction on critical steps to improve
  4. Roleplay: Complete a pre-call for an upcoming call, RM roleplays, complete a post-call debrief together, coach gaps
  5. Develop an action plan: determine action steps, observe, inspect and coach again, celebrate results, and address failure

Coaching the deal and coaching for skill development: Many sales coaches are great at coaching the deal, helping a salesperson understand if the prospect fits their target, researching the industry and issues, the complexities of the structure of the deal, etc. However, at a separate time, sales managers must focus on sales behaviors to help a salesperson make improvements in their strategies, skills, and approach. We recommend establishing coaching hours on the calendar. This is when a salesperson commits to a meeting with their manager, reviews a prospect pre or post-call and reviews the questions they will ask/asked, and completes a qualifying scorecard on the prospect. This is time to sharpen their sword. One of the most important jobs of the sales manager is to practice with their salespeople, take time to help them with a new approach, ask questions differently, and help them get comfortable with closing questions. This time is set aside not to focus on a deal but to improve skills and affect behavior change. Remember, change takes repetition and practice!

Tune in to our blog next week for the Sales Leader's final 5 keys to leading their team to success!

Read Part 2!

Need More  Sales Management Training?

Topics: relationship selling, Sales Management Training

The Four Cs of Great Salespeople: Part 4

Posted by Mark Trinkle on Thu, Mar 03, 2022

We have identified the four Cs of great salespeople and how mastering these traits will lead to better relationship selling and advanced selling skills.

This week we are focusing on the critical trait of Charisma and how being able to attract, charm, and influence those you engage with will help you be more successful. 


Three weeks ago, we kicked off a blog series focusing on the four Cs of great salespeople. So far, we have covered curiosity, confidence, and courage. Last week we focused on courage and the two primary challenges salespeople face that require them to be boldly courageous. One of those challenges is when a salesperson must provide pushback or challenge a statement that a prospect has made. Secondly, walking away from a piece of business when it does not qualify or fit.

This week we are turning our attention to the trait of charisma. Great salespeople are usually quite charismatic. The questions worth asking are twofold: 

  1. What is charisma?
  2. Where do you go to get charisma if you don’t have it?

Let’s start by defining charisma. It is the quality of being able to attract, charm, and influence those around you. It is generally very easy to identify when someone is charismatic. The challenge is being able to pinpoint the skills or qualities that charismatics have that others do not.

Charismatic people are very interesting to be around. I love the coaching I once received that reminded me that to be interesting you must first be interested. As in being interested in the person you are meeting with (at least more interested in them than you are in telling them about you). How much time are you currently devoting in your pre-call plan to identify the questions you intend to ask your prospect that will convey that you are genuinely interested in them and their problems?

In terms of question #2 above, I don’t know of a place you can go to obtain more charisma. Like your IQ, which is typically fully set around the age of 20, charisma is similar. Some people are simply more charismatic than others. But don’t let that deter you. You can still improve your ability to attract, charm, and influence the people around you. All you need to do is to be interested. That may lead your prospect to find you to be interesting (if not even charming).

Learn More About the  21 Core Competencies!

Topics: relationship selling, advanced selling skills

The Four C’s of Great Salespeople: Part 3

Posted by Mark Trinkle on Fri, Feb 25, 2022

We have identified the four Cs of great salespeople and how mastering these traits will lead to better relationship selling and advanced selling skills.

This week we are focusing on the critical trait of Courage. There are two primary challenges for salespeople that require the most courage.


Over the last two weeks, we have been building a blog series on the four Cs of great salespeople. So far, we have covered curiosity and confidence. Last week we focused on confidence and the three areas where that confidence is most evident during the sales process. Great salespeople are confident in; their company's value proposition, that they do not need to be liked to win business, and most importantly, their approach and sales process.

This week we will be focusing on the critical trait of courage. Great salespeople are always courageous. The question worth asking is, where does that courage come from? Maybe the other question worth asking is, how did they get that courage?

Mark Twain once said, “courage is resistance to fear…it is mastery of fear…it is not the absence of fear.” Great salespeople will always have moments in their sales process where they are challenged. Where they will need to have what Susan Scott calls a “fierce conversation.” For more on that topic, I encourage you to read Susan’s wonderful book titled Fierce Conversations.

It is my judgment that there are two primary challenges for salespeople that require the most courage:

  1. Providing pushback. The prospect has said something that is just flat-out wrong. They want to do something that is just not right. As a salesperson, you have two options: you can simply remain quiet and let it go, or you can push back and challenge the prospect. Remember – it is never ok to confront or challenge people. But is ok (and quite frankly essential) that you challenge the statements that people make. And this starts with asking permission. One example would be; “Hey Mary, you just said something that I have a divergent opinion on…would it be ok if I offered a different perspective?”
  2. Walking away. Salespeople hate what I call the “Crowded House” moment in a tribute to the rock band’s 1986 hit single “Don’t Dream It’s Over”. You know the words- "hey now, hey now, don’t dream it’s over." But what if it is over? Wouldn’t you want to know that so you could move on? Would you be concerned about wasting your time? Of course, you will only walk away if you have something else (other deals, other prospects) to walk away towards. If your pipeline is empty, walking away can be hard to do.

Do you want to be more courageous? Suppose I told you that you can be just that. Look for moments to push back (ask permission and be nice) and prospect like crazy, so you are operating with a full pipeline. Remember – you would like their business. But you certainly don’t need it.

Learn More About the  21 Core Competencies!

Topics: relationship selling, advanced selling skills


    Subscribe Here

    Most Read

    Follow #ACTG


    About our Blog

    Anthony Cole Training Group has been working with financial firms for close to 30 years helping them become more effective in their markets and closing their sales opportunity gap.  ACTG has mastered the art of using science-based data and finely honed coaching strategies to help build effective sales teams.  Don’t miss our weekly sales management blog insights from our team of expert contributors.


    Recent Blogs