ACTG Sales Management Blog

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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!

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

How to Make a Job Offer the Candidate Can't Refuse

Posted by Tony Cole on Thu, Mar 18, 2021

Making a job offer that a candidate can’t refuse, needs to think over, or can use to get a better deal from their current employer can be a difficult task.

In the 8th blog of our series No Assembly Required Hiring, we discuss how to properly set up the offer meeting to help improve the probability of getting a yes from your sales candidate.

pexels-andrea-piacquadio-3760067

Whenever someone asks me what my favorite movie is, my immediate response is Rocky. What is probably a better movie, and always in the discussion about best movies ever, is The Godfather.

There are so many great and quotable scenes, but one of the most memorable is when young Michael Corleone explains to his girlfriend Kay Adams how Frankie Fontaine became a star because he got a part in a movie that the director didn’t want to cast him in. His response was, “My father made him an offer he couldn’t refuse.”

That is one of the secrets to getting candidates to accept your offer, as well as the following 6 keys. 

  1. Make them an offer they can't refuse. You can only do that if you know what they will say yes to. Here is what you do:
    1. Ask and discuss their criteria that must be met in a new opportunity
    2. Prioritize the criteria. One of the criteria will always be money and associated benefits, title, expenses, contract terms, and conditions. Get all of this out on the table early. Let's call this table stakes. If you can't meet the table stakes, get out of the game. You can't win.
  2. Set the expectations for the offer meeting/discussion. Assume for purposes of this article that you uncovered every single decision-making factor and two things have happened:
    1. They have bought your value proposition on why this is a transformational move that meets their objectives and goals
    2. You can meet all of their criteria
  3. Deal with the incumbent or current employer and rehearse for the counteroffer
  4. Make sure all other contenders are eliminated
  5. Tell the candidate that you are prepared to:
    1. Make an offer that meets their criteria and priorities
    2. Compensate them in a way that meets their financial needs, goals, and objectives
    3. Answer all of their questions
  6. Explain to the candidate that at the end of the meeting, they will be in a position to accept or decline the offer. Then ask, "what objections do you have to that process?"

You can expect any candidate to say something like, “I don’t know how I could accept an offer I haven’t seen.” That is easy. Remember, you have uncovered all of their criteria and prioritized their needs, wants, and objectives. You know what the financial requirements are, and you can meet or exceed them. You’ve made sure that they have compelling reasons to make a change and that change MUST take place. If you’ve done that and you presented an offer that meets all the criteria, what is there to think about?

There are four things they could be thinking about:

  1. They really can’t make a move or don’t want to make the move
  2. They are hiding something about the money or other criteria
  3. Someone has put another offer on the table, and they want to compare
  4. They don’t know if they can leave their current people and or join your people

Deal with these things before you consider making an offer. You will probably still want to make an offer, and you will probably let the candidate think it over. But do your best to follow these keys to make it incredibly hard for them to say no. Worst-case scenario, take a page from The Godfather.

Click Here for Additional Hiring Tools!

Topics: sales talent acquisition, hire better salespeople, key to successful hiring, recruiting sales talent

11 Common Mistakes When Interviewing Sales Talent

Posted by Tony Cole on Thu, Mar 11, 2021

In previous articles, I have talked about the things you should do during the hiring process to improve your success when sourcing sales talent. Today, I will specifically address things you should refrain from doing during the interviewing process.

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The interview is probably the 3rd most critical part of the hiring process. Two other areas set the stage for a successful hire that I will cover later:

  • Making an offer
  • Onboarding your new hire

 

But for now, let’s stick with the interview process. Interviewing, in most cases, involves more than just one meeting, and it should be considered a process rather than a singular event. In other words, the process should include but is not be limited to:

  • Pre-planning for your interview
  • Using data from the OMG pre-hire assessment, interview guides, and resumes to frame your meeting
  • The pre-interview conversation you had with the candidate to make sure they know what to bring or expect
  • Objective checklist for post-interview review and sharing
  • Ending the process with a candidate or preparing them for the next step

 

Within this process, there are several “deadly sins” committed that I will highlight here.

 

11 Deadly Interviewing Sins

  1. Not preparing the candidate. There are two things your candidate should bring or be able to validate in the interview:
    • Proven sales success (the best way to do this is for them to validate their income)
    • Sharing or being able to describe to you their calendar of appointments over the last 30 days and the next 30 day

  2. Selling the position, opportunity, or the company. Now is not the time for you or your interviewing staff to be selling

  3. Failing to understand that the candidate has one objective in mind: convince you that they are perfect for the job. This candidate will not look, sound, or act any better than they do when they show up

  4. Taking away the most important thing a salesperson must do: quickly establishing bonding, rapport, confidence, and trust. The meeting, after a cordial hello, should start with, “have a seat and let’s get started”

  5. Failing to have an objective list of questions you should answer when you review the interview with others:
    • Do I trust this person? (Would you trust them with your money, company, or family)
    • Would I meet with them again if I were a prospect?
    • Would I want to compete against this person in the market (your answer should be no)?
    • Would I buy from them?


  6. Eliminating the candidate immediately when you know they are not a fit. Just because you schedule an hour for the interview does not mean it needs to last that long. I assure you that you know when you know, and you should end the interview at that time.

  7. Make sure that you tell the candidate to book 90 minutes to 2 hours in-case it goes well. While you have them in the office, take them straight into the 2nd interview if they passed the first interview.

  8. Have a series of must-pass criteria:
    • Did they establish rapport?
    • Did they get rattled when I asked them difficult questions?
    • Did they ask questions?
    • How well did they tell stories, use analogies or metaphors?
    • Did they close me for the next step?
    • Did they prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, their sales and hunting success?

  9. Asking behavior-based questions and believing the answers. Again, they are there to convince you of how good they are. Salespeople are skillful at selling themselves, so you have to investigate further to uncover the truth

  10. Forgetting that this is an audition. Make the candidate roleplay:
    • Their opening phone call
    • The start of a discovery meeting
    • Dealing with objections, questions, and stalls
    • Asking for the business

  11. Forgetting that salespeople are different than the rest of the positions you hire. Your interviewer MUST be great at specifically interviewing salespeople.

Effective interviewing is an art and a science, and often we rely on our own biases, tendencies, likes, and dislikes when conducting interviews. Make sure you have some objective systems and processes established to take the emotion out of the decision. Make sure that these systems and processes allow you to compare candidates based on scorecards and checklists. Finally, make sure you are not desperate. Vince Lombardi stated that “Fatigue makes cowards of us all.” The same is true with interviewing. Not having a pipeline of potential candidates will make cowards of us all.

 

Click Here for Additional Hiring Tools!

Topics: sales talent acquisition, Interviewing, hiring salespeople, hire better salespeople

3 Rules to Improved Candidate Selection

Posted by Tony Cole on Thu, Feb 25, 2021

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

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

gerald fishing

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

The answer to these questions can be summarized here:

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

What does this have to do with improved candidate selection?

Trial the Highly-Predictive  Pre-Hire Sales Assessment

Rule #1 Always be prospecting

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

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

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

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

Rule #2 Own lead generation

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

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

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

Rule #3 Inspect what you expect

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

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

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

Click Here for Additional Hiring Tools!

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

Why Do Sales People Leave Companies? - Management

Posted by Tony Cole on Wed, Mar 01, 2017

MANAGEMENT RESPONSIBLE FOR A $450 BILLION PROBLEM

According to the article, People Leave Managers, Not Companies by Victor Lipman, the research is unanimous in the premise that managers are directly responsible for the productivity of the people they manage.

Gallup data shows 30% of employees “engaged.” Towers Watson data shows 35% “highly engaged.” Dale Carnegie data shows 29% “fully engaged.” And these aren’t small studies; the Gallup survey includes more than 350,000 respondents and the Towers Watson survey includes more than 32,000. Gallup goes on to estimate an annual cost in lost U.S. productivity of more than $450 billion. This is a staggering figure. Even if it’s imprecise, it gives a sense of the magnitude of the problem.”

INTERESTED IS NOT ENGAGED

My mandolin teacher is a better player than he is a teacher. I’ve not had music lessons before so I may not be an accurate judge of what makes a good music teacher, but I have been taught and coached before.  The best ones have always engaged me by first understanding what I wanted to accomplish, getting a feel for my current state (skill level) and assessing my commitment to being better.  I’ve not had this discussion with John at all. The starting point in my lessons was him jumping in and telling me about keys, chords, progressions and scales.  I might as well take Greek lessons.  I was interested… but not engaged.

lessons-playing.jpg

“LOSING THE SCHOLARSHIP”

I will not seek out another instructor… nor will I tell him he’s ineffective as a teacher because he spends his time showing off stuff that will take me years to learn while I pick my way through the Godfather Theme for the 1000th time.  Why?  Because I don’t have time to seek out someone else, I am learning something and, most importantly, I'm not going to “lose my scholarship” if I don’t get Country Boy by John Denver.

What does this have to do with managers, specifically sales managers? Everything.

I will admit that I just signed up for the music instructor that they had available.

  • Kind of like a salesperson taking a job and really not knowing the qualifications of the manager that will be leading them to success.

I will admit that I’m approaching music as a pastime and not like my life or my retirement plans depend on my music skills.

  • Kind of like a salesperson taking a new sales role and really not understanding what the expectations are for success in the first 90 days
  • Kind of like salespeople already on the staff that are “at leasters” and aren’t worried about their position because, as long as there are people below them on the stack ranking, they won’t “lose their scholarship” (job).

TWO POSSIBILITIES… ONE EVENTUAL OUTCOME

Eventually, one of two things happen:

  1. The company catches up with the WITALAIITUs and the salespeople get put on PIPs. They respond well enough to keep their job or they immediately start looking for a new one.
  2. Or they get fed up with the hassles of performing better without any significant support, training or coaching to help them get better and so they leave.

THE PROBLEM PERSISTS BECAUSE BUSINESS ALLOWS IT

At the end of the day, the turnover ratios in the company continue to put a drain on profitability. HR and hiring managers explain it all away as “the nature of our business”. 

It’s the nature of the business only because business allows it to be so. They allow ineffective recruiting, poor on-boarding, sloppy or missing solid performance management and last, but not least, the continuation of ineffective of coaching.

3 SOLUTIONS TO ADDRESS THE PROBLEM NOW

What to do?  These three things will get you started:

  1. Start with Better Ingredients - Like the cooking analogies I’ve used before, start with fresh ingredients. In this case, I mean start with better people.  I don’t mean people that are just better from a moral or ethical perspective, although that's normally pretty important.  In this case, I mean start with people that fit your culture and will do well on the scorecard for success.

Sample Scorecard For Success:

scorecard-2.png

  1. Have a Supportive Sales Managed Environment® - You have to have the structure in place so that the person in charge of running the show won’t have excuses or reasons to fail.  Essentially, you need to have systems in place for:
    1. Performance management
    2. Upgrading the sales force
    3. Motivating the sales team
    4. Coaching for success
    5. Recruiting top talent
  2. Management with a Coaching Bias - Phil Jensen spoke of the 3rd factor (as it relates to coaching) several years ago at an Ecsell Institute Sales Management Summit. The concept is simple.  There are two factors that most of us rely on to function and succeed – Nature and Nurture.  Jensen suggest that people also rely on a third factor – in the case of successful managers, they have a “coaching bias”. That is their 3rd factor.  They care more about developing people than they do anything else.  They experience success as a result of the success of the people they are coaching.

Additional Resources:

No More Hiring Mistakes. Guaranteed! – http://www.hirebettersalespeople.com

Identify Your Systems and Processes – Sales Effectiveness and Impact Analysis Sample

Topics: sales talent acquisition, sales performance coaching, responsibilities of sales manager

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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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