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Archive for November, 2007

When Experience Matters

We go after experience-only hiring in that it is overly subjective and wrought with pitfalls.  But that doesn’t mean experience is irrelevant.  There are certain aspects to an applicant’s history that is important for hiring decisions.

I’m currently sourcing for a mid-level, B2B sales position in the Twin Cities’ market.  Although open to less-experienced sales candidates, our customer still requires a certain level of sales experience for the position.

This requirement means that the Best Buy salespeople, car salespeople and other retail-based experience is not a fit.  I am certain there are talented salespeople within those groups, but the mitigating factor is that our client’s sales cycle is long (up to 2 years).  Although I think Lee from our company may have a buy cycle that long, most retail purchases are far shorter, even automobiles.  The onramp for this type of salesperson would be too long to navigate.

The main point in looking at experience is getting an understanding of the sales model(s) the salesperson has sold.  Was it a quick close or extended cycle?  What type of prospecting did they incorporate?  Who was the target level they approached (C-level, manager-level, etc.)?  How was their product/service positioned in the market?

Some of this information can be gleaned from a resume.  I have had a rash of electronics store salespeople responding to an ad.  I don’t have to go much further than the resume to know that I cannot place them into this level position.  That is the time when experience matters.

Comments Are Back

My apologies to those of you who were not able to comment recently on The Hire Sense.  Apparently we had accidentally installed some draconian comment filter that viewed all of you as spammers.  I know blaming technology is an easy way out, but it is the truth.  Now, as to who activated the program… well, that is better left unsaid.

All comments now welcome (except the real spammers).

Candidates Are Negotiating Offers

No surprise here but the Career News is reporting that candidates are negotiating for higher starting salaries in this current market (emphasis mine): 

Job candidates are more apt to ask for higher starting salaries this coming year, and companies may have to up the ante to attract them. That’s according to an annual study on employment and compensation trends by Robert Half International (RHI) and titled The (EDGE) Report.

Fifty-seven percent of hiring managers polled for the project said it was difficult to find qualified candidates 12 months ago; 91 percent said recruiting is equally or more challenging today. More than half (52 percent) of hiring managers who are having trouble recruiting cited a shortage of qualified professionals.

As the competition for skilled labor has become more pronounced, 58 percent of workers polled said they are more likely to negotiate a better compensation package today than 12 months ago – double the number from last year’s poll.

We are seeing this negotiating approach in our day-to-day activities also.  Candidates know it is a tight market and they have other opportunities.  Keep this fact in mind if you are entering an offer discussion with a top candidate.

Know Your Value

I was meeting with a VP of Sales yesterday discussing the onramping program for the new salesperson we found for them.  He brought up a good point in that his new salesperson was spending time researching their competition.  Unfortunately, they are in a commoditized market with many – many – competitors.  The VP told the salesperson that there are too many competitors to research since they do not have a specific, common competitor.

This led to a discussion that I heard regarding federal authorities and counterfeit money (a common topic this morning).  There are far too many counterfeiters with different techniques to know all of the scams.  So instead, the feds train their people to know all of the specific markers of genuine currency.  The point is that if you know what constitutes the real bills you will be able to spot any fake currency.

My point is that salespeople in highly competitive markets need to know their value proposition in the market.  The salespeople will be more effective if they know what they bring to the market that is distinct and valuable.  If they know that value, they can put it in play against any competitor.  THAT information is worth far more than any competitive information they will gather through online research.

If you have salespeople with a strong Theoretical motivation, you will want to monitor this aspect of their prospecting.  Do not let them get wrapped up in detailed analysis at the expense of actual prospecting.

Supplemental Income

You know, I have had fourth quarters where I was tanking on my commission plan.  Yet, I never thought of this idea to make up for it:

A bank teller in Clearwater had a million reasons not to open an account for an Augusta, Ga., man Monday, authorities said. Alexander D. Smith, 31, was charged with disorderly conduct and two counts of forgery after he walked into the bank and tried to open an account by depositing a fake $1 million bill, said Aiken County Sheriff’s spokesman Lt. Michael Frank.

Fantastic.  My favorite line from the article is the last one:

The federal government has never printed a million-dollar bill, Frank said.

That Might Work With The Chicks…

I’m quoting Bill Murray from Scrooged in case that was a bit too vague a reference.  We’re in a good sourcing window right now, a window in which we have success every year (from now until Dec. 17 or so, then it shuts down until after Jan. 1).

However, I received an email from a gentleman responding to one of our ads.  His email:

Good grief.

It Is Review Time

It is that time of year again…no, not Christmas – employee reviews.  This topic is of great interest to us in that we help companies on-ramp new sales hires.  One of the key aspects of onramping is regular meetings or reviews.  That is management 101.

Yet, it is surprising how many managers have a tendency to avoid a structured review with their employees.  I suspect some of it has to do with the fact that managers may not be involved in their sales reps activities.

I’m not talking about babysitting them every day, but I am talking about pre-call strategizing and post-call debriefing.  If a sales manager is not completing those tasks, they probably do not have a deep knowledge of the salesperson’s abilities.

The offers a good article on this topic – Make employee reviews positive, frequent.

From the article:

Perhaps the first thing to know about employee reviews or appraisals is that they shouldn’t be once-a-year events. You should be giving your staff feedback – positive and negative – on an ongoing basis. Some companies have sit-down sessions with workers two, three or even four times a year.

By giving more frequent reviews, “you focus on identifying problems before they get too big and mapping out ways to correct the behavior,” said Julie Lenzer Kirk, of Damascus, Md., who owned a software and consulting company for 10 years.

You also defuse some of the tension not just for the staffer but also for you.

Feedback – employees crave it.  Ambiguity, or worse, develops in the absence of feedback.

Uhlmansiek finds employees want feedback – good workers want to know where they stand and what they can do to be better. “There’s no substitute for recognizing a job well done,” she said.

If you haven’t done reviews in a long time, this time of year is an excellent time to start.

Recruiting Unconference This Week

I am a bit tardy in relaying this information, but there is an excellent recruiting conference coming up this Friday at Best Buy corporate headquarters in Richfield, MN.  This is the second event in what is going to be a fairly regular conference.  The first conference was excellent and this one looks to be no different.

The topics for this conference:

Talent Acquisition – “How NOT to put a Square Peg in a Round Hole” 

Top 10 SEO Tips For Company Job Boards

Antisocial Networking: Getting Beyond Denial to Deliver a “Wow!” Experience

I’ll be in attendance and I encourage any of you in the Twin Cities area to register and attend this Friday morning.  Space is limited to please follow the link to register if you can make it and learn more about the presenters.

I hope to see you there.

My Vote For Dumbest Headline

Honestly, you can source check me by clicking here.  This headline is running on the Pioneer Press website today – Black Friday – the biggest shopping day of the year:

Shoppers are shopping today, sources say

Apparently the headline writers have today off as well.

MySpace LinkedIn

Well here is an interesting rumor from TechCrunch:

An unconfirmed rumour has reached me via a reliable source that LinkedIn is in talks with media giant News Corporation over a possible buyout in January 2008. The reason I am running with this, is that the source is very well-placed. Furthermore, the rumour has the fundamental ring of truth about it.

We’ll have to keep an eye on this interesting development.

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