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Archive for November, 2006


Sick? Your Boss Wants You to Stay Home, Survey Says. Did we really need a survey for this? I have never encountered the word presenteeism:

56 percent of employers now report that “presenteeism,” when sick employees show up for work, is a problem for them.Just 39 percent said that in a survey two years ago.

We may need to add a new category to The Hire Sense . . . epidemic. I had to mention this article to reveal a company secret – The Rock Star suffers from presenteeism.

Sales Traits Series – Self Confidence

First off, I decided to change the name of this series based on the previous posts. We speak aptitudes but what we are referring to are traits. We’ll use a blend of both words in this series.

Our last installment defined an important aptitude for sales success – Handling Stress. Today we’re going to tie into that aptitude with a complementary aptitude – Self Confidence. First, an interesting point from an Os Hillman daily devotional:

In my younger days I played sports. I came to observe that we fail under pressure usually because we reach a point where our ability to focus on execution yields to concern about outcome. This worry about outcome forces us to lose our concentration. The fear of failure begins to rule our emotions and actions, which ultimately results in our failure. What we fear has come upon us. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Self Confidence
Often confused with self esteem, this is the ability to develop and maintain inner strength based upon the desire to succeed. It encompasses a persons belief that they possess the capabilities to succeed.

A salesperson with strength in this capacity will generally have a strong willingness to succeed based upon a combination of drive and functional knowledge. They accurately believe in their abilities.

A salesperson with weakness in this area may either lack the drive in the practical or knowledge or does not trust their own abilities to perform a task or fill a role.

What We Are Capable of Doing…

A rather timely quote from the guys in regards to my earlier post.

“We judge ourselves by what we feel capable of doing, while others judge us by what we have already done.”

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)

Talent, Talent, Talent

Another marketing article with overall hiring implications – Marketing Challenge: Hire Experience or Potential? The article is from the website and is basically an open question to their readers looking for their input.

A manager interviews employees and narrows down the candidates to two: one with experience and one with potential, intelligence, and high motivation. Which one would you choose? The experienced employee may ramp up faster and bring in knowledge that will help make the process better. But he or she may also have baggage that could interfere with the work.

The employee with potential may bring enthusiasm and energy into the job and go the extra mile to accomplish tasks beyond expectations. Of course, this type of employee won’t get up to speed as quickly.

First, I would use talent instead of potential. Ideally, we help companies find strong candidates who have both talent and industry experience. If we could pick only one, it would be talent every time.

Experience can be gained. I want my heart surgeon to be experienced. I want my salesperson to have “potential, intelligence and high motivation.”

To explain my strong belief about talent, I must speak from experience. Over the past 5 years, we have assessed thousands of people – both employees and candidates using objective tools. We have had the opportunity to watch them perform in their roles (mostly sales). There is no question in my mind regarding this simple truth – talent will outperform experience over time. The most simplistic of reasons is this – the talented employee will gain experience faster than the experienced employee will gain talent.

I’ll provide one focused example. 72% of top-performing salespeople have a Utilitarian motivation. That is they desire to see a return on their investment of time, money, effort, etc. If I hire an experienced salesperson who has no Utilitarian motivation, there is nothing I can do to create that motivation in them. Granted, they may end up being part of the 28% that succeeds without the Utilitarian motivation, but I would rather bank on the 72% group.

I’ll close from the article:

While experience rarely fails a company, how well a person performs depends more on the person’s personality and capabilities. After all, what good is experience when a candidate has a bad attitude?

If You’re Talking, You’re Not Selling

We seem to have a theme today regarding underhanded hiring schemes. Now CareerJournal offers this beauty – When They Don’t Hire You, But Steal Your Ideas. Clearly this article focuses on marketing positions, but it does have a sales side to it also.

Why in the world would you do this?:

While jobless in spring 2004, the Cleveland resident pursued a middle-management position at an Ohio insurer. The concern asked him to create a marketing strategy focused on its independent field agents. He spent about 50 hours drafting a 25-page plan, then presented his detailed proposal to 20 officials over two days.He didn’t get the job. Mr. Gaglione soon found out the insurer was test marketing a key piece of his plan, even using the name he had given it. He left angry messages for two executives there. “I didn’t appreciate you guys taking up my time and taking my work,” his voicemail said. They never called back.

25 pages and two days of meetings? I think I understand what happened here – the candidate never qualified what happens next in the hiring process. Big oversight on his part.

We see this behavior in poorly-trained sales reps also. Many times they believe their job is to “show up and throw up.” They skip the most important sales step – qualifying – and leap directly into the demonstration. Their demonstration usually includes solutions for the prospect’s pressing business problems.

We subscribe to an old sales saying – Don’t spill your candy in the lobby. It’s true. If salespeople provide all of their solutions without first qualifying the prospect’s needs, timing, budget, decision process, competitors and deal-breakers, they run a good chance of becoming the worst-paying form of salespeople in the market.

Free consultants.

From Email Scams To Fake Job Ads

Victims Still Falling Prey to Nigerian E-Mail Scam.

Is it me, or is this story almost unbelievable? I use that hoax as a punchline not as a storyline. To show you how out of touch I am:

The number of people falling for the scam is steadily increasing, with 55,419 lodging complaints in 2005 of at least receiving an e-mail that appeared to be a scam, according to the Federal Trade Commission. That’s almost three times the amount received in 2002, which was 21,616.

It gets worse:

But Audri Lanford, co-director of, a service that helps fight Internet fraud, estimates that $200 million a year is lost to the Nigerian e-mail scam or variations of it.

So now you know, as do I, how big this scam is and how prevalent it is becoming. If you continue reading the story, you come to a paragraph that fits right in to this hoax.

Another trend involves classified ads. Scammers will post fake job ads, and interested parties are asked to fill out an application, complete with personal information that includes date of birth and Social Security number – everything the scammer needs to swindle the victim.

Pathetic really. I can see where the fake application would fool many people and lead to identity theft.

No Email Fridays

I am an email junkie so I wasn’t aware of any “problems” until I read this BusinessWeek article – *!#@ The E-Mail. Can We Talk?

The problem isn’t the distraction of spam or stuffed inboxes. Nor is it the potential for legal liability. The concern, say academics and management thinkers, is misinterpreted messages, as well as the degree to which e-mail has become a substitute for the nuanced conversations that are critical in the workplace.

I think almost all of us have experienced the misinterpreted email issue. I have sent them and ignited a thermonuclear response and I have received what was supposed to be an innocuous email and found myself hunting down the sender.

There are many studies that discuss how words are actually only 10% or so of communication. Tonality, inflection, gestures and other nonverbal cues make up the vast majority of how we communicate. Obviously, those cues do not travel with an email. Of course, video email seems to be gathering some steam and may become more prominent in the near future.

But there is a potential problem with the non-email approach:

Clients are so impressed that they have started to visit and call his staffers more often, too. The biggest peril now? Getting trapped in telephone tag.

Remember the days before the internet when the phone was king? I was a salesperson in a national territory and the phone was the only method for reaching a remote prospect. Telephone tag became a tedious task, along with gatekeepers, voicemails (if they had it) and snail mail letters.

Writing that last sentence makes me feel old.

Sales Time-Wasters

Sales & Marketing Management has a short article about what holds back sales reps – Companies Hamper Their Sales Reps. Some of the findings from the study:

* Salespeople spend just 8 percent of their time prospecting and qualifying new customers. Yet they spend 23 percent of their time dealing with problems and mistakes, searching for information and expediting orders.

* Salespeople spend 62 percent of their time on non-revenue-generating activities and 38 percent of their time selling.

I don’t doubt these numbers. In fact, we have seen entire salesforces that subscribe to these percentages (and sales managers who allow it). But my initial thought was this – how much of these time wasters are forced upon the salespeople by the company? Sales is a rather autonomous role within a company. The greater risk here is that the sales team may be comprised of salespeople who would rather spend their time on tasks other than prospecting for new business. The excuse of working on these other tasks provides cover for a salesperson who has an aversion to prospecting.

As we often preach – always assess sales candidates.

Work/Work Balance and Money

And now for a brief follow up to my previous post. From’s business section – Money Might Buy At Least a Little Happiness, Study Shows. A strange survey for sure, but one that illustrates that there is some happiness to having money. That I don’t doubt. But two excerpts from the article are quite fascinating. First:

Does money make you happier? Or does being happier in the first place allow you to earn more money later, maybe by way of greater creativity or energy? Or does some other factor produce both money and happiness? There’s evidence for all three interpretations, Lucas says.

I am partial to his second question in that string as being the most accurate. Whichever one is correct, I greatly enjoyed the closing graph:

“People exaggerate how much happiness is bought by an extra few thousand,” Oswald said. “The quality of relationships has a far bigger effect than quite large rises in salary…. It’s much better advice, if you’re looking for happiness in life, to try to find the right husband or wife rather than trying to double your salary.”

That piece of advice, I know, is absolutely accurate.

Work/Work Balance

I hope this isn’t a trend – Extreme Jobs Mean Long Hours, Little Sleep — A Lot of Money. The example in the article is a trial lawyer working to make partner (reminds me of John Grisham’s book The Firm). How about this (my emphasis):

A new study in the upcoming issue of the Harvard Business Review estimates that 1.7 million Americans now hold extreme jobs. The study defined “extreme” as any job that requires more than 60 work hours per week and fits various parameters regarding work flow, travel, responsibilities away from the office and outside commitments.

A further description of Mr Shontz (the trial lawyer):

Shontz is almost never home for dinner with his wife and three children, and even breakfast at home is a rare occurrence.

If it works for him, more power to him. I just can’t imagine any line of work being more valuable than time with your family.

According to the Harvard study, 52 percent of the nation’s top income earners those in the top 6 percent of earners and often making six-figure salaries work more than 70 hours a week. And 48 percent say they are working 16 hours a week more than they did just five years ago.

Ok, maybe it is a trend and a bad one at that. The article concludes with my initial thought to this work/life imbalance (my emphasis):

The potential for burnout on these jobs is also extreme. The Harvard study revealed the dark side of working such punishing hours. High percentages of the high performers in the study said the crazy schedule took a huge toll on their family lives and even their health particularly because of a lack of sleep.

I have no empirical data to support this statement, but I suspect this extreme work schedule will not carry through to the younger generations. They seem to have a distinct drive to find a work/life balance that differs greatly from the “high performers” in this study.

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