4 Pillars Of Successful Sales Selection

Successful sales hiring, in any company, is one of the most difficult tasks in which to achieve repeatable success.  From unexpected outbursts to terminal tardiness to woeful incompetence, every company has a sales hiring horror story regarding employees who interviewed strong but performed poorly. Perhaps a subtle, but more dangerous occurrence is the all-too-common hire who performs their job in the gray twilight of mediocrity.  They never rise to the occasion and they never catastrophically fail.  They interviewed well but now simply perform their role in a nondescript manner within the company. Amass too many of these employees and your company will be overwhelmed with mediocrity…or worse.  How do you… Read More

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Reading Microexpressions A Key To Sales?

In a word…yes. We spend a fair amount of time working with salespeople to access their empathy and read the prospect in a qualifying situation.  This ability is one of the keys to all successful selling. This article from Harvard Business Review provides a thorough breakdown of this topic.  A first pull quote from the article: In my work as a body language researcher and instructor, I’ve long theorized that one of the key differences between exceptional negotiators or salespeople and those who are merely average is the ability to read these microexpressions, gauge visceral reactions to ideas or proposals, then strategically steer them toward a preferred outcome. And why… Read More

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A Mission-Critical Sales Metric

Seems simple, but here it is: Let me offer up some definitions of each box: Connects: Cold contact from a list or similar resource Suspects: Contacted and have general need or use for your product/service Prospects: Qualified for need, budget & buying time Quotes: Formal proposal to do business Close: Completed order in response to quote Again, this is a simple concept, but it is of great consequence when hiring salespeople.  We call it the Connects-to-Close ratio and it defines many of the parameters you need to use in your hiring efforts.  There are many layers to the ratio that impact the sales skills, selling style and aptitudes to measure… Read More

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The Most Dangerous Sales Weakness

Sales is a difficult role, I would argue the most difficult role, in any company.  The skill set and mind set required to be successful is rare in the general population.  Yet, strong salespeople are out there and hopefully on your team. However, most teams that we assess have a salesperson (or more) who is not performing up to expectations.  This salesperson seems to have the tools, but something is holding him or her back.  The concern I always have, in this situation, is that they possess the most dangerous sales weakness. Fear of rejection. For sales, this is the big one.  This weakness can single-handedly neutralize any strengths the… Read More

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3 Tips To Hire Salespeople

From the Harvard Business Review Tip of the Day email: Most companies spend more on hiring in sales than they do in any other part of the organization. With an average annual turnover rate of 25 to 30%, and direct replacement costs ranging from $75,000 to $300,000, there’s a big opportunity for improvement. Here are a few places to start (emphasis mine): Focus on behaviors. A primary cause of turnover is poor job fit. Consider ramping up assessment tools, simulations, and interviewing techniques to help identify the right people. Or, try temporary positions to assess people on the job before offering a full-time position. Be clear about the relevant “experience”… Read More

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Don’t Ask This Interview Question

I haven’t heard of this one but it is intriguing: To boost the chances of preventing that hiring misstep, there’s one easy tactic everyone should take in an interview: Stop asking candidates to evaluate their own abilities. Here’s why. Underskilled candidates consistently overrate their abilities, and more skilled candidates consistently underrate their abilities. There’s even a name for this: the Dunning-Kruger effect, a psychological research finding that the poorest performers are the least aware of their own incompetence. So I’m immediately left questioning why?  Are highly-skilled salespeople awash in humility?  I don’t think so and neither does the author. Top performers set higher standards for their own performance, so they… Read More

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2 Habits That Undermine Salespeople

Supposition – something that is supposed; assumption; hypothesis Think of supposition, in sales parlance, as being synonymous with stereotyping.  This is a dangerous approach to sale in that once you start making assumptions, you start derailing your qualifying skills.  In most prospect situations, once you stop truly qualifying you are headed towards prospects that are welded on your forecast 90 days out.  Eternally. Proposition – the act of offering or suggesting something to be considered, accepted, adopted, or done I suspect you are thinking of value proposition which makes sense.  I read an interesting post that turned that term upside down.  The author suggested selling to the customer’s value expectations… Read More

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Objectivity Trumps Bias

We are all biased, it is simply how we are wired no matter what people believe.  Our brains have the innate ability to categorize – a distinct survival mechanism for sure.  This ability becomes problematic in the hiring process as hiring managers can often be influenced by their own biases when making hiring decisions.  To be blunt, hiring managers are prewired to clone themselves in their hires. So what of this?  Does it matter?  If your hiring manager is strong, especially a sales manager, wouldn’t it be best to clone them? No.  End of post…ok, I won’t be so short.  The key to successful hiring, especially as it pertains to… Read More

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The Lost Art Of Writing

No doubt we live in a technology-based world driven by expedited activities, from instant text messages to YouTube videos on demand.  Communication moves fast. One area I believe it hurts is applying for sales positions.  I realize an ever-increasing amount of opportunities are found, shared and contacted through LinkedIn, but what of finding opportunities for which you do not have a direct connection.  I think this activity is similar to cold calling/contacting. When I am sourcing for sales candidates, I receive many resumes forwarded to me through the job boards and LinkedIn.  Resumes.  It is rare that I receive a cover letter anymore.  For me, receiving a resume is similar… Read More

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Hiring What You Need To Know

Experience is a tricky component to successful sales hiring in that it is often overvalued.  Don’t get me wrong, it is important, but you never want to overvalue it.  The reason is that you can teach new salespeople about your product or service a lot easier than you can teach them how to sell.  A sports analogy (I know, often overused) – it is far easier to teach a football wide receiver what routes to run in your offense than it is to teach them how to run a 4.3 40 yard dash.  Some will simply never run a 4.3.  This is why talent is far more valuable to successful… Read More

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