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Archive for May, 2010

Sales Departure Time

I do think there is an impending, colossal jump of sales talent in the very near future.  The Herman Trend Alert speaks to this potential in their latest report:

According to a new CareerBuilder survey, more than one-quarter (28 percent) of sales employers are concerned about losing their high performing workers in the second quarter, while more than one-third (35 percent) of sales workers said it is likely they will start looking for a new job when the economy picks up.

And here is why:

Increased workloads, longer hours and fewer resources related to the recession may be contributing to job dissatisfaction. Looking at key factors that influence job satisfaction and company loyalty, sales workers reported the following:

•Pay – More than one-third (35 percent) of sales workers said they are dissatisfied with their pay.

•Work/life balance – One-in-five (20 percent) sales workers said they are dissatisfied with their work/life balance.

•Career progress – One-in-five (21 percent) of sales workers said they are dissatisfied with the career advancement opportunities provided by their current employers.

I’m a bit jaded here in that I think pay is probably much higher then what is normally reported in these surveys.  Nonetheless, I have talked to a handful of salespeople recently who are starting to put their ears to the tracks regarding new opportunities.  I still believe the hiring landscape will be slow this year, but will begin to ramp up in Q4.  A year from now may be one of the largest retention struggles we have seen in quite some time.

The External Focus Of Sales

I’ve bumped into a common tension point within a company – the battle between Human Resources and Sales.  My observations (and participation) of this feud is that it comes down to a fundamental difference in perspective between the two departments.

Human resources has the strongest internal focus of any department.  Their world exists within the walls of the company and then spend most of their time examining, building, adjusting, etc. that world.  Clearly this is an important aspect of building corporate culture.  A weak HR department has a significant negative impact on the entire company.  I have worked in those environments and they are tortuous at times.

Sales as the strongest external focus of any department.  Sales has to operate in the marketplace, in the prospect’s world, to be successful.  Hence, sales often has the least internal focus or awareness of any department.  My career has been molded in this environment so I am predisposed to this area.

An overly aggressive sales department can become feral towards the internal culture.  This disconnect is a difficult path to navigate in that the sales department slowly realizes that other departments contribute to their success (finance, ops/production, etc.).  A feral sales department can sow dissention throughout an entire company.

Yet, the natural tension that can occur between HR and Sales is often due to the external focus of the sales department.

Details Matter

From a sales employment ad I read this morning:

Job Location: Minniapolis, MN

A Marketing Tell

If you are not familiar with poker parlance, a tell is a subtle but detectable change in a player’s appearance, movement or expression.  In essence, it is a clue as to the strength of the cards they are holding.  Poker players are masters of reading body language and movement for these signs.  I find this information fascinating in the context of hiring.  When is a candidate lying?  What signs can you read to know when they are stretching the truth?

I’ve seen a new tell that I think has legs – marketing approaches of decision makers.  Here is where this thought developed; the top executive at one of our customers is dabbling in the marketing plan for his company and has reworked the marketing message.

This executive is…well, cheap.  His revenue is down and he wants to role out new services.  This company is woefully inept on the marketing side so they have no market data or feedback.  In essence, they are marketing in a vacuum.  So this executive designs his new offering based solely on price.  No understanding of the price point in the market, no understanding of their differentiating value, no understanding of the market demand – a total shot in the dark.

Unfortunately, this is the second time he has made a move like this in the past 6 months.  The first one was an absolute failure – it literally generated no revenue.  Now he is back with a lower offering.  I’m afraid the results will be the same.

The tell here is that he is cheap so his automatic assumption is that the market is price-driven (i.e. cheap).  I’m no expert in that market, but price has not garnered any success recently, if ever.  However, you cannot contribute to this executive.  He is convinced it is a pricing issue.

My thought is that a person’s first move in an unverified/undefined/unknown market is to assuage their own style hence the “tell.”  Watch their decision making and see where they move first.  This approach will reveal their hidden weaknesses.

Communicate They Do Not

One of my favorite anecdotal websites is Killian Advertising’s Cover Letters From Hell.  I promise you will laugh so check it out.  In the meantime, here is a sample of the some “unique” writing:

“It is my desire to develop and generate the revolving scheme to filter to the consuming public in.”

“I’m looking for work because even though my company was profitable last year, this year they are expecting a large defecate.”

“A flaw that I must point out because it even bothers me is that I am impatient. I hate waiting, but then again who does?”

Now Hiring – The Federal Government

Here is an interesting poll from Gallup – the Job Creation Index.  I was not familiar with this one until seeing it on Drudge.  I always have a tinge of skepticism for any poll, but this one has a staggering finding (emphasis mine):

Gallup’s Job Creation Index clearly indicates that state and local governments are in the midst of significant downsizing, no doubt reflecting budgetary issues resulting from recessionary pressures on the tax (and other) revenue that funds these governments.

Hiring at the federal level has apparently to date escaped these same fiscal pressures. Indeed, the federal government appears to be significantly outpacing the private sector in terms of the relative number of jobs created.

How long this pattern will continue is difficult to project. The federal budget deficit is likely to become a prominent element of political debate in the months and years ahead, thus opening up the possibility of increased employment pressures at the federal level. At the moment, however, the federal government is one of the brightest spots in the nation’s hiring picture.

Never a good sign.

Heart Attack Hiring

The company name listed in a sales ad I read this morning:

Type A personalities wanted