Do Not Clone Your Style

This Forbes article addresses one of the most important aspects of an interview – the communication style alignment between the hiring manager and the candidate.  The article is written from the candidate’s perspective, but offers great insights into the hiring manager’s mindset.

A supervisor isn’t going to hire someone that he doesn’t believe he can work with. Managers come in all shapes and sizes–some are hands-off and expect their employees to do what they need to do with little or no supervision. Others like to receive daily updates, religiously review timecards and schedule regular check-in meetings with their staff.

This style topic is important in hiring, but should never be the deciding factor in a sales hire.  The reason is this – one of the worst hiring mistakes is for the hiring manager to clone themselves in their hiring.  The outcome of “clone hiring” is a team that shares the same communication approach in the marketplace and, more importantly, contains the same group weaknesses.

The strongest teams have a wide variety of communication styles to match the wide variety of prospects’ styles.  You can learn more about styles here.

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 judge themselves more harshly than low performers.

Bullseye.  I couldn’t agree more with that statement.  We see this effect in our objective assessments often with top performers.  An interesting aspect is that they often have lower self-esteem.  It isn’t that they are shrinking violets…to the contrary, they set high standards and always strive to reach higher.  They have a drive that says I could have done better or I can do more.  It is counter-intuitive to me and took quite some time to understand this effect.

Don’t be put-off by a sales candidate who doesn’t project a booming confidence.  Trust the assessment and dig down to find out what motivates them to succeed.

Contact us if you want to learn more about how our assessments can drastically improve your sales hiring.

More Bad Ad Writing

Just saw this title to a sales position ad (emphasis mine):

Regional Sales Manager Job

“Job”…seriously?  Don’t do this in your ads.  Salespeople, especially young salespeople, are looking for opportunities, careers, even a path.  If you promote the position as a job, you will instantly limit the perspective, or upside, of the position.

The Money Trap

-Discounting is a hot topic in sales especially in this prolonged, down economy.  However, discounting is never the best choice regardless of the situation.  Here is a good Eye on Sales article speaking to that point.

Here is a good suggestion:

The first question I ask anyone who thinks they need to lower their price to close a sale is if they know at least 3 needs the customer has and if they have been able to measure the real value of those needs with the customer.

Exactly.  The author is speaking to qualifying which is the core of all successful selling.  This is why it is of the utmost importance to see a sales candidate’s qualifying ability in your interview process.  Do not provide all of the information to the candidate – hold some back to see if they ask for it.  Do not make the initial interview too easy – provide a little resistance.  These types of techniques give you a glimpse into the candidate’s qualifying which you can’t get from a resume.  If they cannot qualify, they cannot handle money/pricing issues.

If the candidate or salesperson is adamant about discounting, they get caught in a trap:

It’s easy to cut your price. Anybody can do it. But what I guarantee when you cut your price for the first time, you’ll do it again and again. I’ve yet to meet a salesperson who has reduced their price only once.

Always qualify candidates for qualifying to avoid this trap.

“Stable” Sales Recruiting

There is a common marketing approach used in recruiting that states some form of “we locate the candidates who aren’t looking.”  I suppose the hook is that we can find amazing candidates that you can’t find.  It’s a hook, I guess.  Anyway, here is one I received in an unsolicited email:

What we do is go after the best candidates & the elite that are not currently looking for a job as they already have one. We personally present and sell your specific company’s opportunity to their individual needs. Our clients find that these hidden candidates are more stable, more qualified and haven’t been interviewing all over town.

Stable?  More qualified?  How does one do this?  He talks about presenting and selling your opportunity, but not about qualifying candidates who can succeed in the position.  This fact is an important distinction.

I would be wary of any recruiter who attempts to sell a salesperson on an opportunity.  Have a discussion, look for fit, determine their abilities…the onus is on the sales candidate to sell you.  I would avoid any self-proclaimed sales recruiter who takes the aforementioned approach.