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Posts Tagged ‘sales management’

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?

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Your Business Development Results Are Only History

02/04/2010 Leave a comment

That’s right. Looking at your results is just a history record of what you have done in the past. It’s a lagging indicator (or rear view mirror) of the sum total of your efforts over the past few weeks and months. Maybe it was prospecting, networking or listening to your past and current clients that got you there. That being the case, is there any way that you can find a forward looking or leading indicator of your future results?

Your Sales Pipeline isn’t the whole answer

You’d be partially right if you thought that your Pipeline is part of the answer. Depending on your qualifying and closing averages, it can give you a good clue as to what to expect in the future. So sure, you can do the same you’ve been doing, and work at it harder, more frequently and with more intensity. Nobody would discourage that behavior, but it takes a lot of time and effort to get the desired incremental returns on that kind of grinding.

The Intangibles

So perhaps a better leading indicator of future results is not always the quantity of effort, but rather the quality of the effort. Can it be that your own personal and professional development could really have the biggest impact on your future results? No doubt that the old adage about working “Smarter” comes into play here. But how do you define it? Is it increasing product knowledge, sales skills or other expertise in your field, or is it more about intangibles like passion, self awareness, emotional control, understanding, insights and perception? Only a consistent program of self development is the way to find the answers that are right for you. How hard would it be to get off the roller coaster a little bit every week to focus on self development as your leading indicator of success?

Many thanks to Daniel Grissom for inspiring the concept about the Leading Indicator.

A Funny Thing Happened When He Quit – Part 3 of 3

11/24/2009 Leave a comment

In the first and second installments of this blog, we looked at the story of Robert, a senior sales rep who grew complacent and elected to leave (under duress) his high salary position due to some performance and behavior issues. The fact that he had left a fair amount of business on the table at his existing clients was surprising news to his old managers. Robert then found himself with a new job that required him to implement a different sales discipline that allowed him to be successful under the mostly commission based comp plan. And with that new found discipline, even Robert was surprised to see his results go up dramatically.

Of the many comments received about this story, some suggested the following:

  • The fault lies with sales management for not paying attention.
  • Just because someone on the team speaks up, doesn’t mean that what they are saying is always negative and should be let go because of it.
  • Robert was just a phony trying to do a minimum of work just so he could collect a paycheck.
  • Somebody should have done a better job of “motivating” him.

Any of the above could be true, but the fact of the matter is that every situation is different because of the vast combination of workplace elements combined with the unlimited array of human factors. As with many of the dynamics in the sales world, there is never a shortage of right vs. wrong thinking, finger pointing or what seem to be perfectly rational explanations. The temptation in these situations is to try to find the “answer” to solve the “problem”, when in reality these problems are just conditions that have been going on forever, and will continue to persist as long as sales and business continues to be an imperfect world. So with no magic bullet and no hard science, all that can be done is to treat the conditions themselves rather than being frustrated that there is no single answer to the problem of managing people.

It’s all really simple, right?

So, in the business of sales, someone will have to unravel all the inter-related items that can affect the performance of each rep, each sales manager and the overall success of the company.  In the case of Robert, just a sampling of the questions that could be asked are:

  • Did Robert really have the Desire, the Commitment and the self responsibility to be successful?
  • If not, then why did he succeed in one position and not the other? Was it only about the comp plans?
  • Why were some of Robert’s peers hitting their numbers when they were in the same market with the same products? Did they just have a “better territory”?
  • What parts of Robert’s game really needed fixing the most?
  • What impact does sales management really have on performance? Should they be cheerleaders or intimidators, or both?

Certainly there are many “Do it Yourself” approaches than can be tried, but in the end, Sales Force Development is a planned process with many moving parts.

[Author note: Someone asked if Robert was a real life character or if I just made this story up to serve my own purposes. The truth is that “Robert” is a compilation of three different reps that had almost the exact same situation occur to them in real life in the last six months. True story.]

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.