Sales and Sales Management Blog

April 7, 2014

Book Review: Hire Right, Higher Profits by Lee Salz

Book Review: Hire Right, Higher Profits by Lee Salz

ImageShould you only hire salespeople from within your industry?

What are the key qualifications for a salesperson to be successful selling for your company?

Do you spend as much time and effort when hiring a new salesperson as you do when looking at a new investment in a potentially revenue enhancing product or service?

In his newest book, Hire Right, Higher Profits: The Executive’s Guide to Building a World-Class Sales Force (CreateSpace:  2014), Lee Salz addresses these and many other hiring questions head-on—and provides the real world guidance and answers that are so badly needed by hiring executives in today’s marketplace.

Hire Right, Higher Profits is a highly detailed examination of the hiring practices most companies employ.  From the way employment ads are written to the unrealistic qualifications the ads demand the candidate have to the slipshod interview process itself to the inadequate or non-existent onboarding after the hire, Salz unfolds the reasons so many sales hires are a bust.

From his years of practice building sales teams Salz has come to the conclusion that:

“Five percent of all salespeople will Succeed under any circumstances “Five percent of all salespeople will Fail no matter what is done for them “Ninety percent of all salespeople fall into the LIMBO group where success or failure is determined by:

     “The strength of the match between them and their sales roles     
       and     
       The sophistication of the company’s new-hire development program—to help them       
       quicky and effectively use their skills and know-how in a new environment.”

In short, Salz’s formula for sales hire success is:

          “Identify candidates with the potential to succeed in specific sales roles                  
               + Offer skill-development programs to turn potential into reality                                                       
                                                 Higher Profits”

Hire Right, Higher Profits is laser focused on helping executives implement that formula with an emphasis that the hire must be geared to the highly defined specific sales role the salesperson will fill. 

The bulk of the book takes the hiring executive through the complete hiring process from examining and understanding in detail the required and desired attributes of the new sales hire to creating the job ad to the interview process to onboarding the new salesperson.  Salz examines the pros and cons of various sales job titles, whether or not to negotiate the compensation package, the candidate background check, analyzing a resume, and virtually every other aspect of the hiring and post-hiring process. 

Hire Right, Higher Profits is a practical, actionable guide to making quality hiring decisions, decisions that will enhance profitability and dramatically lower hiring costs and mistakes.

If you have any role in the hiring process of salespeople, do yourself and your company a huge favor and pick up a copy of Hire Right, Higher Profits.

 

 

 

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July 27, 2009

Boost Your Sales: “Beware of Hiring Your Competitor’s Sales People,” by Lee Salz

Filed under: hiring,recruiting/hiring,sales,selling — Paul McCord @ 4:12 am
Tags: , , , ,

Beware of Hiring Your Competitor’s Sales People
By Lee B. Salz

Life would be grand if we could sprinkle a few seeds in the ground, fertilize, add water…and a great sales person would sprout. This is truly a pipedream, but one often pursued by small business owners and sales management executives in their quest to find great sales talent. Rather than grow their own, they attempt to steal the crops from their competitors. Why not, their competitor is much better at growing a sales organization than they are. They will grab some magic from their competitor’s land and they too can enjoy great success.

When did the competition begin building a better sales organization than your company? Before you harvest their crop, consider these five myths when hiring your competitor’s sales people.

“Hiring from the competitor means the sales person will hit the ground running with no training.” Some of the attraction to the competitors’ sales people is sheer laziness. Hire a sales person from the competitor today…instant revenue tomorrow. No need to train them, they already know everything. Needless to say, this is flawed thinking. Sales people always need training and development regardless of who their former employer was.

That said, every once in a while, lightning will strike and you will hire a rainmaker. More often than not, this approach is a recipe for a making a bad hire. A thought…What sales people do you really think are available from the competition? Rarely is it the top performers. It’s the bottom 20% that, truth be told, the company is glad to see leave.

“Our industry is so complex that we must hire a sales person from within it.” How can this be true? No one ever came out of the womb mastering your industry…not even you. You were taught it and so was everyone else. If you truly feel that industry experience is the top requirement, be prepared for another major challenge…scalability. There are only so many people in your industry and very few that you will consider hiring. At some point, your talent pool will run dry.

Sales people need to have a certain level of knowledge to effectively sell in an industry. Determine what they need to know to be effective and develop training tools to quickly get them up to speed. Identify resources in your company that can help them with their questions. Test their knowledge assimilation along the way to make sure they are getting it.

“They’re going to bring a book of business with them.” Before you buy that argument, consider these three points. First, despite what they tell you, it is extremely difficult to move clients. The pain of change is not one that is easily resolved with clients. It is rare to find a sales person with that strong of an influence to overcome that issue.

Second, the sales person doesn’t own those clients, their employer does. While non-competes don’t usually hold up in court, client list protection does. And, you can be at risk in the mess. Do you really need that headache?

Third, don’t think for a minute that the sales person you hire today will one day retire with your firm. They will leave your employ some day. Imagine your sales person attempting to take your clients with them when they go. It doesn’t feel overly ethical, does it? And, it’s a flawed reason to hire a sales person.

“We’re a little firm and we could really use a sales person that comes from one of our large competitors.” This statement is true if, and only if, your company and the large competitor are identical twins. A synergistic match between your company and the candidate is needed to put together a long-lasting sales marriage. There are a number of nuances that affect this synergy.

The flaw with this statement is that it assumes a complete sales culture match. Every sales organization is different, even within the same industry. The large competitor may have a ton of sales support for prospecting and presentations, while in your company the entire burden is on the sales person. The sales person at the competitor may enjoy great name recognition in the marketplace while you do not. Thus, a different skill set is needed to get in the door with prospects. The list goes on and on. The key is develop a profile of your ideal sales candidate with the required and desired attributes and interview accordingly.

“Since they have been in the industry, they are passionate about it and passion sells.” Absolutely true! Passion sells, but it’s an incorrect assumption that these sales people arrive with passion. Sales people who bounce from company to company in an industry become “vanilla.”

Years ago, I had a sales person on my team who had sold for three of our competitors prior to joining our company. I participated in a ride-along sales call with her and the meeting was interesting to say the least. She could have had any of her former employer’s business cards in her hand, or ours for that matter, and everything she said was accurate. There was no passion. It was all vanilla information that failed to arouse any excitement in the prospect.

Sales hiring is daunting for companies of all sizes. The key is to have a profile of your ideal sales candidate and interview the prospects against it. This will help you find the right sales talent for your team whether they worked for your competitor or not. Need help interviewing sales candidates? Send me an email for my 28 favorite interview questions for sales candidates.

 

Lee B. Salz is a sales management guru who helps companies identify and hire the right sales people, on-board them effectively and efficiently, and align their sales activity with the objectives of the business using his sales architecture® methodology. He is the President of Sales Architects, the C.E.O. of Business Expert Webinars and author of the award-winning, widely-acclaimed book “Soar Despite Your Dodo Sales Manager.” Lee is also a columnist for Sales and Marketing Management Magazine and SalesforceXP Magazine. He is a passionate, dynamic speaker and a business consultant. Lee can be reached at lsalz@SalesArchitecture.com or 763.416.4321.

September 19, 2008

Guest Article: “Successful Selling and the Theory of Relativity,” by Lee Salz

Successful Selling and the Theory of Relativity
by Lee Salz

Albert Einstein formulated the theory that says that space and time are relative concepts rather than absolute concepts. For example, consider a car speedometer reading at 65 miles per hour. How fast is the car going? This question seems like the beginning of the joke of who is buried in Grant’s tomb and you are expecting a punch line. No joke here, I assure you. As a matter of fact, most would respond 65 miles per hour. This is the correct answer if and only if you are comparing the car to someone who is not moving. However, if you compare that same car to the car driving next to it that is driving 55 miles per hour, your car is only moving at 10 miles per hour.

So, what does that have to do with sales? When you look at your sales performance, to what standard do you compare yourself? Is it to the others on the sales team? Is it to your quota? Is it to a sales record that has stood for 10 years in your company? Maybe you look at your performance relative to your income goals?

While any of these comparative points are important, they all have one thing in common. They limit your potential. How good can you be? If you set a ceiling to that, you will never know. Yes, hitting your quota is important. Achieving your income goal is also important. But could you achieve more? Could you be better? The car moving at 65 miles per hour is moving pretty fast, but only relative to a non-moving entity. Your competitors are moving right along with you. Maybe you are in the lead, but competition does not stagnate. To them, maybe you are only moving at 10 miles per hour.

Compare that same car to a jet. The speed of the car is not overly impressive. The jet can get you from New York to Florida in a couple of hours. The car needs 24 hours to reach the same destination. Competitors get smarter. Customers get smarter. And you have to get better if you are going to be successful. What worked yesterday is not going to work tomorrow. Self improvement is the only way to do it.

There are no ceilings in sales unless you place them there. One of my favorite quotes is, “When someone says it can’t be done, it only means that HE can’t do it.” Every day people accomplish the seemingly impossible. How do they do it? Simple. They don’t compare themselves to any standard. They have no limitations. As I write this, I’m flying on a plane. If the Wright brothers believed in ceilings, I’d be driving. If Bill Gates believed that people would never own a personal computer, I’d be writing this on a typewriter.

To further make this point, I thought I would share a personal story. When I was in the eighth grade, my family moved from New York to New Jersey. (Where to start with the jokes…) At the time that we moved, I was an excellent student, A’s across the board. Shortly after moving, I injured my knee playing baseball. I ended up having two knee surgeries and spent my entire freshman year of high school on crutches. Here I am living in a new state, going to a new school, knowing next to no one. I lost my focus.

I became friendly with a few kids who were not very good students. They were nice kids, not troublemakers, but they did not perform well in school. During my freshman year of high school, I set my personal worst records for grades, but I was able to rationalize my performance. My grades were nothing to write home about, but I was scoring better than my friends. From that relative point of view, I was doing fine.

Towards the end of my freshman year, I became friends with a different group of kids. These friends later attended Wharton, Harvard, Emory, and Bates. All prestigious schools…  Relative to them, my grades were a disgrace. They never made me feel badly about it, but I felt uncomfortable. Their success drove me to rediscover myself. During the remainder of my high school and collegiate career, I elevated my game to top of the class. I credit much of that with changing my approach to relativity.

Nature also uses the theory of relativity. If you put a fish in a 10 gallon tank, the fish will only grow to a certain size. The surroundings of the fish limit its size and growth. Put that same fish in a larger tank and the fish will continue to grow. Want to get better at golf? Play with better golfers. Want to run faster? Train with better runners.

What limitations are you putting on your sales success? Are you failing to achieve your quota? Are your friends on the team missing their quota too? Do you accept that because you are all failing? Or do you compare yourself to a higher standard? What are you doing each and every day to improve yourself? Is your goal just to be better, or is it to be the best?

You are the only obstacle to your success. Get out of your own way and enjoy the results.

Lee B. Salz is a sales management guru who helps companies hire the right sales people, on-board them, and focus their sales activity using his sales architectureR methodology.  He is the President of Sales Architects, the C.E.O. of Business Expert Webinars and author of “Soar Despite Your Dodo Sales Manager.” Lee is an online columnist for Sales and Marketing Management Magazine, a print columnist for SalesforceXP Magazine, and the host of the Internet radio show, “Secrets of Business Gurus.” Look for Lee’s new book
in February 2009 titled, “The Sales Marriage” where he shares the secrets to hiring the right sales people. Lee can be reached at lsalz@SalesArchitecture.com.

July 22, 2008

Guest Article: “Compensate to Motivate,” by Lee Salz

Compensate to Motivate
By Lee Salz

When I speak to business executives, one of the challenges I often hear is that their sales team is not doing the things they feel are most critical to the success of the company. I then ask to see their compensation plan. After a thorough read, I share my impression of the message of the compensation plan and ask if this is their intention. That’s when things get scary! They look at me blankly and say, “No, our intention is for our sales people to…” For them, the disconnect has been exposed.

What many forget is that the blessing of sales is that a compensation plan doubles as a job description. However, that blessing is also a curse as a compensation plan doubles as a job description. As one executive shared after going through the aforementioned exercise, “We want our sales people to focus on selling our new product to our existing clients. Yet, we are compensating the sales people in a way that they are better off pursuing new clients.” He got it!

The incongruence of sales compensation is one of the biggest disconnects in companies. Executives sit in a board room with strategic plans of grandeur, but the plan collapses when they don’t address the compensation for the sales troops. It is a very simple equation. Sales people invest their time on activities that drive their compensation. Plain and simple. The thought that sales people will actively and consistently perform activities that are not in their best financial interests is naïve.

Further complicating matters, there are instances where sales people are compensated for delivering certain results while their managers are compensated on a different set of results. Thus, the sales managers are driving their team consistently with their compensation message, but inconsistently with their sales team members. It creates the visual of the sales manager pushing a boulder up a hill trying to get their team to focus on activities that contradict their income. Best of luck!

When structuring sales compensation plans, a company should strongly consider the goals for the company. Working backwards, the goals for the company drive the structure of the sales compensation plan. Thus, they should be directly aligned. If the company’s goal is to gain adoption of a new product in the marketplace, the plan should reward sales people for accomplishing this feat. If the goal is to increase revenue with their current clientele, the plan should reward for that. Anyone should be able to read the plan and derive the intended message.The second consideration, when structuring sales compensation plans, is that sales managers and sales people should have alignment with their respective results. If one is compensated for adding new clients and the other for selling a new product to existing clients, and it does matter which is compensated for which, the incongruence causes a paralysis of performance.

Making this more daunting is that in complex sales environments, those that have protracted buying cycles, the standard salary and commission model does not create enough of a framework to ensure that the sales team performs the right activities every day. How do you structure the plan so that the team is motivated to do the right things every hour of every day?

Employers also face a challenge of hiring sales people who are concerned about the length of time of the buying cycle in contrast to their earnings. The standard solution is to bridge the gap with a draw. As you probably know, there are two types of draws. There is the recoverable draw which is, in essence, a loan against the sales person’s future commissions. Then, there is the other, the non-recoverable draw which is money, free and clear, to the sales person for some period of time. Nothing good comes out of either of these. The recoverable draw, almost always, puts the sales person in a financial hole. They wake up each morning knowing they owe the company money. No one enjoys the feeling of debt. The non-recoverable draw, often times, creates an earnings cliff. Let’s say that the draw is for three months at $2,000 per month. In month four, the sales person probably experiences a significant fall-off in their earnings. The end result is relationship damage between the sales person and the company and a poor corporate investment. How do you structure the sales compensation plan to bridge the earnings gap when recruiting new sales people?

The challenge of motivating sales people and bridging the sales earnings gap can be solved with a creative compensation approach. In the 1980s and 1990s, the big buzz term was MBO (Management by Objective). Business people were provided with a series of objectives, and following a performance review, were compensated for achievement of such. What if the MBO concept was applied to sales compensation? What if you created a Sales Behavioral Objective or SBO?

If you are reading this and think that I’ve just created additional sales cost, think again. I’m proposing a reallocation of the dollars paid to your sales team. A percentage of the dollars normally budgeted for commissions would be allocated for an SBO bonus.

Consider this. A company has a typical buying process with its clientele that is six months long. They pay their sales people a base salary of $60,000. At 100% of plan, the sales person earns $90,000 or $30,000 over their base salary. However, no commissions are earned in their first six months of employment due to the buying cycle. The company, as a means of managing sales behaviors and attracting strong sales talent, budgets $15,000 of the $30,000 of commissions for the SBO bonus. The sales person is then eligible to earn a $3,500 bonus each quarter in year one.At the beginning of each quarter, the sales person has a formal review where the results of the prior quarter are shared and the mission for the second is presented. The SBO changes from quarter to quarter based on the tenure of the sales person and the needs of the business. The SBO is also not a “gimme.” 100% accomplishment should be a stretch goal, but achievable for the sales person.

In the first quarter, the overall mission is getting the sales person assimilated into the company’s environment. The measurements of success at the end of the quarter are: a business/territory plan, the ability for the sales person to call on prospects, and knowledge of the products. As measurement of achievement, the company provides a written test on product knowledge, a scored, mock sales call, a scored, mock, sales presentation, and review of their business/territory plan. Based on the sales person’s accomplishments, they will receive a percentage of the $3,500 up to 100%.

In future quarters, a points system is put in place, making the SBO entirely objective, tied to performing the activities deemed critical for the success of the business. In each quarter, the goal is for the sales person to achieve 100 points. The main objective in the second quarter for this company is to have face-to-face meetings with qualified prospects. They are looking for their sales person to have twenty face-to-face meetings in the quarter as a way to jump start their sales pipeline. Thus, the SBO compensates five points for each meeting held. At the end of the quarter, whatever percentage the sales person delivers of the 100 points, with a minimum achievement of 75%, is paid as a bonus. This includes those who over perform. Why penalize them for doing more of the right things? What about quality? How do you know they are doing the right things in the prospect meeting? Hopefully, you measured their proficiency in doing those things in the first quarter.

The SBO program, in future quarters, is designed by identifying key, measurable sales activities aligned with the needs of the business. Place weighting on the activities commensurate with your expectations of the sales person.

Some of you are probably thinking, “No way, I pay for results!” Well, results are a function of doing the right things each and every day. Results are not miraculous. They are formulaic. The reality is that you have skin in the game with the SBO. As a business executive, you and your team are tasked with determining what it takes for a sales person to generate the results you desire. If you have done your job of identifying the success metrics and the sales person achieves those, the results take care of themselves. The SBO is not just for year one since the challenge of managing sales behaviors is perpetual. One important key is to budget enough dollars for the SBO bonus that it gets the attention of the sales people, but not so high that it overshadows commissions.

The bottom line is that the SBO program gives you the tool kit to channel the energy of the sales team toward achieving that goal. It also provides you with a mechanism to attract sales talent to your company where, right on day one, they need to perform to earn dollars over their salary. One other benefit of this program for those companies with lengthy buying processes, the SBO provides you with a way to assess the sales person’s performance in a way that you can identify, more quickly, those who will not be successful in your company.

One thing is for sure, the executive team of the company in the story knows that if they paid a sales person $15,000 SBO bonus in year one, year two and beyond are going to be stellar.

Lee Salz is the founder of Sales Dodo, a training and consulting company dedicated to helping companies, sales managers, and sales people adapt and thrive in the ever changing world of business. He uses the metaphor of the dodo to show what happens when one fails to adapt. Those who adapt, thrive. Those who don’t become extinct like the dodo bird of ages ago. Visit his website at www.salesdodo.com.

Lee is also the creator of Business Expert Webinars, the premier source of great sales, management and leadership training via webinars.

July 2, 2008

Guest Article: “Sales Candidate Attributes: Desired or Required,” by Lee Salz

Sales Candidate Attributes: Desired or Required
By Lee B. Salz

Companies spend tons of money trying to attract sales talent through job boards, yet they impair that campaign with what they put in their ad.

Close your eyes. Think of the perfect mate. Are you done? Close your eyes again. Think some more. How long is your list of requirements of the perfect mate? Are there five of them? Ten? Perhaps, you have twenty. Think about your list again. Are each of those really requirements of your ideal mate? Or, are those desired attributes? On which items are you willing to be flexible? For example, some people say the religion of their mate is a requirement while height is only desired. For others, it is the other way around.

People make decisions every based on their desired and required aspects. There are some aspects on which people can compromise and others where they cannot. This challenge hits employers when they are trying to attract sales talent to apply for their open positions. Instead of creating ads on job boards that invite folks to apply, they tightly close the spigot. I regularly look at the job boards to see how companies are attempting to attract great sales talent. What I find is interesting. Companies place an ad listing what attributes are required of the candidate. However, when I speak to companies about their ad, I find that many of the items on their list fall more in the desired category.

I’ve also talked with sales people about their perceptions of a job advertisement that lists requirements. “I look at the list of requirements in the posting and if I don’t have 100% of the background, I don’t submit my resume”, said a sales person actively looking for a new role. When I ask employers about their biggest challenges, finding great candidates ranks high on their list. “It just seems that we place an ad on a job board and we get few candidates to respond,” said one employer.

Here is the disconnect. Employers publish job advertisements to lure sales candidates to apply. Yet, that same tool is choking the entire process. In essence, instead of enticing candidates to apply, they are convincing them that they won’t be considered.

Here is an example of the requirements section from a job board advertisement

The successful candidate must have
BA/BS with a focus on business or life science
An MBA from a well-respected institution
10 years sales management experience
10+ years business to business sales experience to the Fortune 1000
Broad knowledge of principles and methods in a recognized professional field, or working knowledge of multiple fields
Well-versed in using CRM tools
Experience selling in disciplined, formal sales methodology is essential
Must be good at developing and articulating ROI to C-Level Executives
Telecommunications experience is a must

How many people meet this list of criteria? Very, very few. Would this company really not consider a candidate that met the most critical elements of their criteria, but was missing an element or two? Well, by publishing an ad that is so restrictive, those candidates won’t apply. The company misses out on those potential superstars.

I’m a huge proponent of formulating a profile of a company’s ideal sales candidate. Yet, if that profile is so restrictive that only one person in the world matches it, how will this company ever hire anyone? I’m not suggesting that companies reduce their standards or that they hire subpar performers. No one wins in those instances. However, there are two follow-on steps of the process.

Let’s say you have come up with twenty items for your ideal sales candidate profile. The next thing to do is to rank them in importance so that each item is ranked one through twenty. The first one on the list is the one deemed most important. In essence, you are prioritizing the importance of the criteria. Not much different than what people subconsciously do when searching for a mate.

Once that is done, the next step is to categorize each as either required or desired. I won’t insult your intelligence by defining those. Start with number twenty (least important from the prior exercise) and work your way down to number one. If this exercise was done correctly, the lion share of the items become “desired” while the finite few at the top become required. It is the few items that are deemed critical to one’s success in the job that should be listed as required in an ad.

This is a challenging set of exercises, no doubt. That’s the whole point. You want to make sure you encourage the right candidates to apply versus discouraging them. Thinking back to the company who had the laborious list of requirements. Would they really not hire a really bright individual who lacks the MBA component of the profile? If the answer is no, they shouldn’t list that in their ad as it discourages potentially strong candidates from applying. Did they put the requirement of a telecommunications background in the ad because they prefer not to teach the industry? If the answer is yes, then they wouldn’t want to put that in the ad because they could miss out on a superstar sales person who needs a little assistance learning the business.

This issue isn’t limited to candidates and employers. Recruiters are frustrated too. The company provides them with such restrictions that they feel handcuffed in their ability to find the right candidates. “I really want to help my client, but I feel like I’m searching for a needle in a haystack. I don’t dare send any candidates unless I find an exact match to what they’ve given me,” says one recruiter. Continuing on, “I don’t think they intend to be so restrictive, but that’s what they have given me to work with.”

Attracting great talent is very difficult to do. The great ones are typically wedded to their employer. Don’t let the few great ones that are in the market get away. Make sure your communication to attract talent is formulated to truly represent what was intended.

Lee Salz is president of Sales Dodo and author of Soar Despite Your Dodo Sales Manager..  He developed his firm Sales Dodo with the fundamental mission of helping companies, sales managers, and sales people adapt and thrive in the ever changing world of business. He uses the metaphor of the dodo to show what happens when one fails to adapt. Those who adapt, thrive. Those who don’t become extinct like the dodo bird of ages ago. Some laugh at the use of the word “dodo,” but there is nothing funny about a business losing its competitive edge due to unmanaged change.

April 1, 2008

Guest Article: “Are Job Applicants Destroying Your Brand?”, by Lee Salz

Are Job Applicants Destroying Your Brand?
By Lee B. Salz |

Companies roll out the red carpet when they hire new employees. Yet, those that they elect not to hire are left out in the cold with a bad taste in their mouth about their experiences with the company. It doesn’t need to be this way.

Phil walks into his favorite retailer to apply for a job. He sits down at the kiosk and begins to fill out the employment application. He fumbles through the online form and realizes that he forgot to enter his apartment number. He clicks the browser to go back to the prior page. In doing so, all of the information he already entered is wiped out. Darn it! He begins completing the application again. Name, address, social security number, etc.

Once done, the manager waves him into his office as if he is flagging down a cab in Midtown Manhattan during rush hour. Phil makes his way down to the office. He is shocked and disgusted by what he sees in the office. It is a mess and that is putting it mildly. Scattered papers are one thing, but leftover crumbs from lunch are another. Phil begins to wonder if he might need a tetanus shot after this experience.

John, the manager, tells Phil to sit down. Phil looks at the chair and notices that it is so badly ripped that it is beyond repair. The pattern of the rip looks like the path the Mississippi River travels as it heads from North to South. Phil looks at John and notices that his shirt flap isn’t tucked in. Better yet, John has a sauce stain on his left pocket. Phil begins to wonder if he is being “Punk’d.” Where are those cameras?

The interview begins with John asking Phil why he wants to work there. Phil wasn’t expecting a question like that right off the bat and stammers in his response. The truth is that Phil simply wanted a job so he could pay the bills. John didn’t look impressed. A couple of more questions with mediocre answers and the interview ends. John tells Phil that they will call him in a day or two to update him on his candidacy. The call never comes.

So if you are Phil, when do you think you will shop at that store again? Do I hear NEVER? How many people is Phil going to tell about his experience? 10? 20? 50? How many of those people will look at that store differently? And to how many people will they tell Phil’s story?

To be clear, John wasn’t wrong for not hiring Phil. As the manager, he is responsible for selecting the talent to work in his store. However, the manager is also tasked with protecting the corporate brand. And that, he failed to do. Phil left that store with such a negative impression of the experience that all the marketing and advertising in the world would not bring him back in.

Granted, this story is exaggerated. At least, I hope it is. Yet, there are things that recruiters and hiring managers do every day that damage the brand of the company. It doesn’t take much to create a miserable experience. Things like, interviewers being late, offices being dirty, and interviewers being rude are just a few. The top of the list from the candidate perspective is when things go dark, meaning that no communication is ever received from the company informing them that they are no longer being considered for employment. When I talk to candidates, the lack of notification that they are no longer being considered is at the top of their list of company conduct that leaves a negative impression. They feel disrespected.

Some of you are probably reading this and thinking that you aren’t in the retail space so this issue doesn’t affect you. Care to wager on that? Consider this. You interview a sales candidate and for whatever reason elect not to hire them. The candidate has a less than favorable experience with your company during the interview process leaving a bad taste in his mouth. He lands with a competitor of yours and proceeds to share his experiences with your company. Stories of your firm’s unprofessionalism spread like wildfire throughout not just this competitor’s organization, but with other competitors in your industry. Don’t think this can happen? Keep in mind your frog is someone else’s prince.

Maybe you don’t care what the competition thinks of your company. But do you care if this is a strategic partner instead? Better yet, it is one of your clients that hires this candidate. Now your client gets to hear the “great experiences” this candidate had while interviewing with your company. When these stories reach your CEO from your client, who will get the call in your company about this matter?

Look, hiring managers and recruiters don’t intentionally create bad candidate experiences. Sometimes they simply get tunnel-vision. “I have to fill the seat. I have to fill the seat. I have to fill the seat.” It almost sounds like the repetition of “Time to make the donuts.” from the old Dunkin Donuts commercial. True, every day that seat is open, it costs the company x number of dollars, not to mention some manager or recruiter’s bonus. Thus, when it is determined that a candidate is not a fit for the role, it is all too easy to forget about them and move on to the next one. However, the same level of care that was used to recruit the candidate to visit the organization should match the level of care when exiting. Why create enemies? If your company hires 100 people per year and it takes 11 candidates to fill one seat, 1,000 people were not hired by your company. Thus, a lot of people were touched by your process. How did they walk away feeling about their experiences with your company? Try this math with your company’s hiring metrics.

Companies spend hundreds of thousands, or is it millions, of dollars building a brand image. Managers and recruiters are responsible for protecting it. When I say recruiters, I mean both internal and external ones. While internal ones seem obvious to you, the external ones may not be. Yet, they are acting as an agent for your company when they are the intermediary between you and the candidate. As far as the candidate is concerned, the recruiter is your company.

In an earlier article, I talked about the importance of a company mapping out their sales talent screening program. I should have mentioned, for all candidate recruits, that a program should be put in place that addresses the candidate exit process as well. It’s not a lot of work to do this. It takes a little thought. That little thought could save your company thousands.

Lee B. Salz is President of Sales Dodo, LLC and author of “Soar Despite Your Dodo Sales Manager.” He specializes in helping companies and their sales organizations adapt and thrive in the ever-changing world of business. Lee is available for keynote speaking, business consulting, and sales training. He can be reached via email at lsalz@salesdodo.com, his website at http://www.salesdodo.com or by phone at 763.416.4321.

Paul McCord of the Sales and Sales Management Blog may be reached at pmccord@mccordandassociates.com

December 30, 2007

Guest Article: “Successful Selling and the Theory of Relativity,” by Lee B. Salz

Successful Selling and the Theory of Relativity
By Lee B. Salz

Are you as successful as you can be? Are you limiting your personal growth? In this article, you will learn how to remove all barriers that prevent you from maximizing your success.

Albert Einstein formulated the theory that says that space and time are relative concepts rather than absolute concepts. For example, consider a car speedometer reading at 65 miles per hour. How fast is the car going? This question seems like the beginning of the joke of who is buried in Grant’s tomb and you are expecting a punch line. No joke here, I assure you. As a matter of fact, most would respond 65 miles per hour. This is the correct answer if and only if you are comparing the car to someone who is not moving. However, if you compare that same car to the car driving next to it that is driving 55 miles per hour, your car is only moving at 10 miles per hour.

So, what does that have to do with sales? When you look at your sales performance, to what standard do you compare yourself? Is it to the others on the sales team? Is it to your quota? Is it to a sales record that has stood for 10 years in your company? Maybe you look at your performance relative to your income goals?

While any of these comparative points are important, they all have one thing in common. They limit your potential. How good can you be? If you set a ceiling to that, you will never know. Yes, hitting your quota is important. Achieving your income goal is also important. But could you achieve more? Could you be better? The car moving at 65 miles per hour is moving pretty fast, but only relative to a non-moving entity. Your competitors are moving right along with you. Maybe you are in the lead, but competition does not stagnate. To them, maybe you are only moving at 10 miles per hour.

Compare that same car to a jet. The speed of the car is not overly impressive. The jet can get you from New York to Florida in a couple of hours. The car needs 24 hours to reach the same destination. Competitors get smarter. Customers get smarter. And you have to get better if you are going to be successful. What worked yesterday is not going to work tomorrow. Self improvement is the only way to do it.

There are no ceilings in sales unless you place them there. One of my favorite quotes is, “When someone says it can’t be done, it only means that HE can’t do it.” Every day people accomplish the seemingly impossible. How do they do it? Simple. They don’t compare themselves to any standard. They have no limitations. As I write this, I’m flying on a plane. If the Wright brothers believed in ceilings, I’d be driving. If Bill Gates believed that people would never own a personal computer, I’d be writing this on a typewriter.

To further make this point, I thought I would share a personal story. When I was in the eighth grade, my family moved from New York to New Jersey. (Where to start with the jokes…) At the time that we moved, I was an excellent student, A’s across the board. Shortly after moving, I injured my knee playing baseball. I ended up having two knee surgeries and spent my entire freshman year of high school on crutches. Here I am living in a new state, going to a new school, knowing next to no one. I lost my focus.

I became friendly with a few kids who were not very good students. They were nice kids, not troublemakers, but they did not perform well in school. During my freshman year of high school, I set my personal worst records for grades, but I was able to rationalize my performance. My grades were nothing to write home about, but I was scoring better than my friends. From that relative point of view, I was doing fine.

Towards the end of my freshman year, I became friends with a different group of kids. These friends later attended Wharton, Harvard, Emory, and Bates. All prestigious schools… Relative to them, my grades were a disgrace. They never made me feel badly about it, but I felt uncomfortable. Their success drove me to rediscover myself. During the remainder of my high school and collegiate career, I elevated my game to top of the class. I credit much of that with changing my approach to relativity.

Nature also uses the theory of relativity. If you put a fish in a 10 gallon tank, the fish will only grow to a certain size. The surroundings of the fish limit its size and growth. Put that same fish in a larger tank and the fish will continue to grow. Want to get better at golf? Play with better golfers. Want to run faster? Train with better runners.

What limitations are you putting on your sales success? Are you failing to achieve your quota? Are your friends on the team missing their quota too? Do you accept that because you are all failing? Or do you compare yourself to a higher standard? What are you doing each and every day to improve yourself? Is your goal just to be better, or is it to be the best?

You are the only obstacle to your success. Get out of your own way and enjoy the results.

Lee B. Salz is President of Sales Dodo, LLC and author of “Soar Despite Your Dodo Sales Manager.” He specializes in helping companies and their sales organizations adapt and thrive in the ever-changing world of business. Lee is available for keynote speaking, business consulting, and sales training. He can be reached via email at lsalz@salesdodo.com, his website at www.salesdodo.com or by phone at 763.416.4321.

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