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Archive for August, 2009

Overwritten Ads

I keep an eye on the sales employment ads looking for trends, positions, companies and prospects.  I admit it.  One of the aspects that catches my attention is the sheer length of some of these ads.  It seems apparent that some companies simple publish their internal, HR-drive job descriptions as an employment ad.  Mistake.

Ads that incorporate this style read as an onerous task list as opposed to describing the opportunity and, more importantly, describing the ideal salesperson in his or her terms.  The salesperson should read the ad and think to themselves, “Those are my skills, those are my strengths.”

Many ads like to list the reporting requirements of the position.  This task is assumed in sales – you have to provide a forecast, you have to update the CRM package, you have to keep notes.  The specifics of these tasks are not required in the ad.  In fact, they create word bloat in the ad.  Don’t waste the space.

Here is a prime example from an ad:

6.  Engage service delivery owners within the company coordinating mutual stakeholders meetings for repetitive or client initiated strategic business issues or launching of a new/additional service.

Look up “bloviation” in the dictionary and you will find this ad.  Couldn’t the above quote simply state something like “coordinate internal, strategic customer review meetings” or something to that point?  The example is so overwritten that I am not sure of the gist of the sentence.

Concise, succinct writing is key when writing sales ads.

Should You Involve Customers In Hiring?

Quite the question, don’t you think?  That is the title of this article from Selling Power.  I have to confess I was perplexed by the entire thought – how would you as the hiring manager benefit from having your customer help you hire the salesperson?  I see nothing but pitfalls in this approach.

My first thought is mentioned in the article:

“For example, the customer could be shopping around for someone he could squeeze on margins,” she says. “It’s more that they are looking for an easier mark, and that’s not to anyone’s advantage in the long run.”

No kidding – there might be a great advantage to the customer to find a salesperson who they can roll.

I have never encountered this customer-assisted approach to sales hiring.  Here is another thought for hiring managers who are focused on experience-based hiring (I could riff on that but won’t) – would you be willing to expose your customer to a sales candidate from a competitor?  I could see many salespeople acting as candidates so they could prospect in your most-valued customer list.  Remember, your top customer is your competition’s top prospect.

At any rate, I think the article closes with the best approach if you are adamant about including customers in your sales hiring:

Another way to involve customers is when you are conducting a needs analysis for the position – before you even look at candidates. Ask your customers what traits and skills are important to them, and add them to your list.

Do that and then assess the candidates.

Odd Hold

I’m on hold this past week with my website hosting company with some questions about our account.  I have a somewhat complex question/request for them which requires the customer service rep to put me on hold to obviously research it.

I don’t mind being put on hold as I am ever hopeful they come back with the solution.  However, I was a bit shocked by the hold music when she put me on hold the first time.

The song was Another One Bites the Dust.

I kept waiting for the dial tone as surely she was preparing to hang up on me.  I was relieved when she returned.  I explained my question further at which point I was put on hold a second time.

I found myself thrust into the middle of Puff the Magic Dragon.

How bizarre.  Oh, and I didn’t get my question solved.

Double Dippin’

I’ve come across two different instances of a nefarious sales trick that is reviving itself in the telecommuting era.  Two different customers recently shared accounts of salespeople who were on their payroll and the payroll of another company.  This stickler is that they were allegedly full-time employees for both companies.

In one instance, the salesperson was on the West coast while headquarters was back in the East.  This guy set up a small office in an office building and had a slider sign on the door.  He would simply slide it to reveal the company he was representing that day for that appointment.  He also had a company car from both companies.

Outside of the healthy paychecks, it appears this guy was submitting expenses to both companies also.  Double reimbursement!  What a snake.

The other customer has a woman who works for them on a part-time basis which worked out well for them.  Unfortunately, another company was paying her full-time as she was working at home for them.  She would be at the part-time job in for half of the day while she was “on the clock” for the other company.  True double-dippin’.  In the end it evened out as the full-time employer found her work lacking (imagine that) and ended up letting her go.

Workers of this integrity are the ones who make managers uncomfortable with telecommuting.  There is no denying the telecommuting trend, but hiring the right salesperson with the right aptitudes and responsibility is crucial to success.