Archive

Author Archive

Does Your Hiring Process Resemble a Trip to Lost Wages?

by Charlie Hauck

And I don’t have to tell you why people call that place Lost Wages, do I? I am headed there to present to a group of business owners soon, so the idea of what really goes on in most hiring processes struck as cruel irony. Phrases like Resume Roulette and Credential Craps started coming to mind as I thought about my program. Just because a candidate’s resume looks like he or she is an ace doesn’t guarantee the face card will follow for a winning hand of Black Jack. It is scary to think how often people have said “hit me” only to bust on what looked like a sure winner.

How much does it cost?

When you consider the bottom line impact of a hiring mistake, Lost Wages could not be a more appropriate reference. Some people calculate the cost of a bad hire to be 1.5 times the annual salary of the employee. And depending on the industry, or the level of the position, that figure could be very conservative. Despite hard times, we still hear of companies where turnover is as high as 15% in some areas. That math is staggering when you consider there are enough tools available to minimize hiring mistakes. Why so many business leaders/owners still consider assessments or testing to be an unnecessary expense shocks me.

It’s not real money is it?

The costs of bad hiring practices may not show up on a balance sheet as a line item, and perhaps everyone has just accepted them as just the cost of doing business, but when the impact of not making the right choice is so high, how can companies afford to not do things differently? Upgrading your IT system happens because you found something that is more efficient and can help your profitability. Doesn’t it make sense to upgrade the expectation of what kind of human assets you add to your organization?

Advertisements

Daily Inspiration From A Simple Gift

The road to business development success takes many turns, with many of those turns unexpected. Just as unexpected, can be the surprise source of a nugget that speaks to the mindset or habits that separate the real high performers from the rest of the pack. Finding one of those nuggets may require something as simple as tearing off the next page of a desk calendar filled with quotes.

Random Surprises

I’ve been grateful to receive just such a calendar from someone I’ve done business with, but more importantly have developed a valuable relationship with over the last few years. We met twenty years ago in one of those unexpected turns, and along the way have shared many conversations about the philosophy of success, raising kids, taking risks, running our businesses and just about everything else. His gift of a simple calendar each year has always provided me with random surprises of humor or insightful advice from the icons of history or contemporary life.

Courage

So, from the 28th of January, 2010 comes a classic thought as we all begin to get after it again day after day trying to make a buck and keep our families fed and our clients satisfied. In as true a statement about what makes business development efforts so challenging as I’ve read in a long time, I’ll close by sharing what that master motivator had to say 60 years ago or so. From Winston Churchill, “Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm.”

Like I said, a rare gem from an unexpected source. Thanks, Kevin!

Ice Cream for Breakfast?

01/20/2010 4 comments

The feeling of being denied the freedom to make your own decision is one of the worst feelings in the world. I don’t know too many people beyond the age of two that would argue with that statement. If I decide to go out and ride my bike, eat lunch at 1:30, have ice cream for breakfast or stay up until 3:00 AM, well, that is my choice thank you. So why should I change my mind if that is really what I want to do?

I’ll just sit here while you try to convince me

So when did it become fashionable to deny a prospect the choice to hear a pitch, stay with a current vendor or take advantage of special pricing from a competitor?  Is it that everyone we approach must be stupid or making a mistake if they don’t buy from us? Or is it just possible that we aren’t right for everyone? The tried and true process of spouting features and benefits is a tad “seller-centric”. .. meaning that those “can’t miss” benefits should work for everyone because that’s what the sales person is telling you. Just because you offer a car with fold down seats does that mean I should be thrilled even though I have no need for that particular feature that is so desired by someone else?


Just trust me, please

Someone once told me that feature and benefit selling amounted to “positive performance before trust” when used to fuel the sales process. I didn’t quite grasp that idea until I found myself as the prospect a few times. You could almost feel the salesperson telling me to just go ahead and trust him. And the funny thing was that the more he told me about this feature and that benefit that made no difference to me, the harder it was to believe I should grant him any trust at all.

So in an effort to find a more nurturing way to sell I began using a permission based sales approach that embraced the fact that either party could say NO, that allowed both salesperson and prospect to feel in control, and that used question marks instead of exclamation points or periods to drive the process forward. Wouldn’t we all like to work in an environment that felt that comfortable?

Where does margin come from?

We all know how to calculate margin in the simplest form by subtracting the cost of goods from the price those goods were sold for, but do many sales people, experienced or not, understand how to sell margin to their clients, suspects or prospects? When people on the street are all hyped up by presenting features and benefits, margin seems to be the last thing on their minds. What is the first thing on the mind at the executive level of the companies those salespeople are pursuing? Well, at that level it is profit or the operating margin of the business.

Rise to the Head of the Class

Features and Benefits are old school issues today. I didn’t say they weren’t important, just old school. The business development people that will rise to the head of the class and become highly profitable for their employers, and highly valued by their customers, are the ones that can provide products and services that generate profit for those customers and clients. Features and Benefits are a surface level approach that can be challenged by a “me too” competitor that is willing to drop price or make unreliable commitments. Everyone knows the downside of those experiences.

What’s the big picture?

Business development teams that can understand the business issues of the people they interact with will provide more value for longer periods of time and at higher margins. Knowing why a feature or benefit is valuable from the prospect’s perspective will build more trust than simply knowing what those features and benefits are. Features and benefits are “seller-centric” in nature, and if not attached to the total financial picture of a prospect they can be too assumptive and quite easy to ignore. The challenge then becomes how to open a business / profit conversation that doesn’t begin with a feature / benefit or price cutting pitch.

You don’t have to hire all MBA’s, but what would happen if your team embraced a little bit more business sense out on the street?

Hire Slow, Fire Fast?

11/12/2009 1 comment

Does it really have to be that way? Sure, there are lots of management courses that suggest that the old “Hire Slow, Fire Fast” process is a best practice, but there are plenty of things that have to have to go right along the way. Hiring slow the right way can make firing fast a non-issue. If so, then starting the process right pays huge dividends

Is everyone suddenly a Super Star in their own minds?

Using a proven methodology to select long term, successful hires that can and will sell ends the merry-go round practice that has become acceptable for many sales organizations.  The “hire three, keep one” stories exist in any economic condition, but with so many resumes touting a career as a top producer hitting the streets now, this practice can be even riskier. When you read these submissions it is truly hard to believe that such high producers and proven winners ever got let go at all. How did so many all-stars meet the fate of down-sizing all at the same time?

Don’t be duped

With everyone claiming they are competent, your process must include some tools and practices that separate the wheat from the chaff. Stop trusting your gut and intuition. No one’s resume says they performed poorly or got axed by an unappreciative manager, so buyers beware. Do the right thing and get some outside help. If two heads are better than one, get a second head or at least an instrument that can validate your gut feeling.  Slow down and make a selection that will last. It can’t be any worse than doing it all by yourself.

Passion for selling … a blessing or a curse?

10/27/2009 2 comments

Curse #1

What leaves a bad impression more than encountering a salesperson that is just going through the motions? The smell of the of lack of interest and commitment seems to linger after these folks have dropped off their literature, business card and limp hand shake. The sad part is realizing that you lost interest almost immediately in what they saying and found yourself feeling sorry for these miscast pretenders. You may want to tell them that if they could just show a little emotion they might actually sell something someday.

Curse #2

On the other hand, there are the salespeople that love selling so much it scares prospects away. They love the company, the product, the marketplace (and probably you too) by the end of a call. When they leave, you can find yourself shaking your hand to make sure the gooeyness of the hand shake is gone. The passion these people have overwhelms your interest in what they offer, and you can’t help but wonder what all that emotion may be hiding. If something sounds too good to be true, well you know the rest.

The Blessing

Somewhere in between are sales pros that love to sell, but still remember that the customer is more important than their emotions. You can sense a balance that looks and sounds like confidence in what they are doing, a confidence to succeed with or without you as a customer. There is a genuine interest in helping you find solutions, but not in making a commission if the sale isn’t in your best interest. In short, these people act and carry themselves as winners. Aren’t things more comfortable when you get to interact with these kinds of people as opposed to the ones that can’t even muster the strength to quit a job they hate, or the ones that can’t quit selling so hard you want to run away?

One of the hardest things a sales manager has to do …

Telling the truth is often one of the hardest things to do in sales management. When the economy tanks and everyone’s excuses seem to make so much sense, a sales manager’s job gets tougher every day. When the parade of struggling producers marches through your office and tells you all the sob stories about why no one is buying, why price is all that matters and that even your biggest competitor is off 40%, even the toughest task master can find it hard not to be sympathetic.

So what’s the problem?

And that would all make more sense if you didn’t have two or three guys or gals that seem to be getting the job done under the same conditions. For some reason there is often a couple of people that never seem to get caught in the morass of self pity and resignation that afflicts so many others. When that happens someone has to step up and tell it like it is, and if you are the sales manager, that is going to be you.

The truth is that some folks just don’t want to be responsible for where they are and what they are doing … or not doing. And the other truth is that some managers don’t want to be responsible for selecting or keeping these folks either. It’s time to decide; are you going to believe the winners, or are you going to allow the others to make or break your commitment to get it done? Tell the truth.

It isn’t easy

Selecting and keeping reps that resist making excuses and that are self responsible isn’t easy. It’s human nature to want to defend performance that is less than expected. But accepting excuses implies permission to do it more, and that is usually what happens. And that leads to a whole array of other trouble. If you want to know more, drop us a line and we’ll tell you how to train that habit out of your sales team. Otherwise, go out and Google “Excuses” and you’ll find a number of good books like “Let’s get results, not Excuses.