Hunt Big Sales Blog
Insights for Finding, Landing and Harvesting Whale-Size Accounts
Latest "Hiring/Firing/Paying" Posts
Guest Faculty post by Dave Hickman
Process has lots of benefits and every executive knows it. With that knowledge, almost every executive is disappointed with the final results of that process.
The problem is not that everyone is missing a hiring process, but that the hiring process is not aligned to the organizational needs.
This misses the target of driving optimal hiring results. To make any process improvements, overcoming legacy thinking is a real challenge. Will you get candidates through headhunters, Post & Pray, employee referrals or other sourcing means? I can’t think of one client who didn’t have a hiring process in place, however all of them were not achieving the outcomes they desired and acknowledged a need to modify their strategy which would improve their process and results.
It seems so logical that if you want to make progress, then adjust your strategy, people, tools, process, or systems. But however logical it may sound, simple fear causes people to delay or forego an improvement.
We’ve found there is a basic foundation to hiring talent that when properly utilized, speed to hire and quality will improve by over 30%. Here are 5 proven steps that need to be in place and will improve your confidence to hire better, faster, and consistently.
1. Strategy and Planning: Develop a 12 month Hiring Demand Matrix and stage gate hiring strategy, process and metrics. You will need tools such as Job Descriptions/Profile, Candidate Screening Summaries, Key Competencies, Interview Guides (with ratings), and qualitative/quantitative comparisons that define what is great and what is good.
Guest Faculty post by Dave Hickman
Right now in the US talent marketplace, the two toughest roles to find, attract, and hire are IT specialists and great sales people. Sales people are everywhere you look, however the great ones who can hunt for leads, think strategically, build trust and then close business are as difficult to find as unicorns in a blizzard.
Over the last 15 years, we’ve helped companies hire over 4,000 sales reps, management, and leadership professionals in critical revenue generating roles for startups through Fortune 500 companies. Because sales professionals come in all kinds of sizes, shapes, and flavors that relate to products, services, industries, types of decision makers, and size of deals, no one size fits all criteria. However, what matters the most is they exist to drive revenue, and a bad hire will cost you 3X their salary if terminated at 12 months. With an investment of that magnitude, having the right strategy and process in place to minimize risk and increase probability of success is absolutely critical.
Therefore, we’ve compiled the top 6 mistakes we see hiring managers make when attracting, assessing, and hiring sales professionals. Focus on a couple at a time and gain confidence in your decisions to hire great sales people.
1. Misaligned your sales profile to what you’re selling - If your average sale is 3k, 30 day sales cycle, targeted to one low/mid level decision makers at fortune 1000 companies, you don’t need a highly skilled strategic sales person who is used to closing 500K deals over 6-9 months with multiple buyers.
You’ve heard it over and over again as CEO—delegate, delegate, delegate! Learning how to delegate is crucial for every CEO, yet research shows that one of the top areas board directors say CEOs still need to work on is “sharing leadership/delegation skills.”
With all of this focus on delegation, is there such a thing as over-delegation? You are, after all, CEO—NOT Chief Delegation Officer. So while it is important to delegate some things, not everything should be delegated.
Below are 5 areas of your business that are your responsibility to always monitor closely:
1) Quality Standards
As CEO of your company, as soon as you stop paying attention to the quality of your products and services, so will the rest of your employees. While you can delegate quality control to employees, you cannot delegate setting the quality standard. That comes from the top and should be protected by the top. The quality of your product or service will only be as high as the bar you set as CEO. No one has sharper eyes, ears, and intuitive knowledge of what quality means for your company than you.
2) Financial Health
Having your accounting and reporting tasks performed by trained CFOs and accountants is necessary, but what is not necessary is to yield all decisions about your company’s future and supporting tactical initiatives to your financial team. While your financial team is your right hand, you are exclusively responsible for telling that right hand which tasks to focus on accomplishing to maintain the financial health of your business.
Hiring is Awful – So Get Better at It
We are doubling our staff right now. Sales people, customer service account managers, administrative support. Hiring is the worst – the amount of time it takes, the expense and of course the frequency with which a great process produces an unsustainable hire. I have hired thousands of people over my career and I can claim a success rate only a tiny bit higher than the national average. I have made a few lessons law for us at Hunt Big Sales:
- Avoid “projects” – There is a temptation to hire people with potential rather than proven talent. The price is better and then you can develop them your own way, right? Not as a small company. You need real producers from day one.
- Forget “market rate” compensation – If you are a growing company, you need to set your sights on real contributors and pay for it. One “great hire” will out perform two good hires.
- Take the time – I’m always in a rush when it comes to hiring. That’s like going to the grocery store hungry. It’s better to go with multiple interviews.
- Standardize – Currently, this is our biggest mistake. If you want to get good at something, then you standardize and modify from the standard as you learn. Right now, we are making up our questions for each interview as we are meeting with the candidate. We are going to move to a template approach so that all of the members of the hiring team can get better with experience.
It’s getting harder and harder to find the right candidates. Here are three things to consider when you are searching for the best talent.
I’m hiring. Many of the companies I know are hiring. I have been in 20 cities so far this year–from New York to L.A., Atlanta to Honolulu–and whenever I ask business owners and what their top challenges are for 2013, hiring is always in the top three.
Economic boom days again? I don’t know, I’m not an economist. However, the big issue seems to be that companies cannot find the right candidates and they are less willing than ever to make a costly hiring mistake. Regulations, benefits costs, orientation and training expenses have made business owners much more careful.
Where have all the good candidates gone? They are probably working right now, but maybe not for your competitors or even in your industry. The highly technical positions are going to be in demand of course. For example, many of the trades have seen a shortage in qualified applicants because of a lack of trade-school graduates. However, there are lots of graduates coming out of school and they are going to need jobs. Add to that those people who are transitioning careers and there are plenty of good candidates out there–they just may not look like the candidates of years past.
Here are threee things to consider when searching for the best candidates:
1) Fish in different ponds–You and your competitors are probably hunting the same candidates in the same places.
Before making the decision to downsize, you need to evaluate your sales efforts. Your real problem might just be a lackluster sales strategy.
Do you ever look around your office and ask yourself, “What are all of these people doing?” You look at your sales and revenues and they are flat or below projections. Your payroll, however, is still disproportionately robust. You start to wonder…Do we really need all of these people?
Before you grab a pencil and start plotting how to “right-size” your business, ask yourself a few questions first:
1) How does seasonality and business cycle affect your staff needs?
2) What does the backlog show the demand to be in the near future?
3) What does the pipeline show for the possible demand in the near future?
One of my great mentors once said, “All business problems are really sales problems.” An overstatement perhaps, but it is still something worth considering. Once you have looked at the fluctuations in your staffing demands based upon the questions above, you need to focus on ramping up your sales efforts.
Let me start with a confession–I have made almost all of the staffing mistakes you can make, some of them more than once. I have held onto staff when I should have trimmed. I have trimmed when I should have kept. It took me a while, but eventually I learned the lesson to hire slow and part ways fast when it is clear the relationship isn’t a good fit. Assuming you have done the same, that means you have a really strong staff who are underused.
Every decision maker is looking for someone who can solve their biggest problems. To close a big deal, you need to demonstrate you can do just that.
This is an excerpt from Tom Searcy’s latest book, “How to Close a Deal Like Warren Buffett–Lessons from the World’s Greatest Dealmaker” written with Henry DeVries and published by McGraw-Hill, available now.
When Warren Buffett bought Barnett Helzberg’s jewelry business, “Helzberg Diamonds, he followed the most important sales principle in doing large deals—he solved the other person’s problem.
As Barnett Helzberg put it;
“I knew we could trust him to keep the headquarters in Kansas City, resist changing the company’s character, and retain the jobs of all of Helzberg’s associates. It might have been simpler to sell to the highest bidder, but that notion seemed as sensible as choosing a brain surgeon based on the lowest price rather than on talent and reputation.”
It is easy to assume that because Buffett has so much money, he wins deals by writing the biggest check. It would be equally easy to assume that you win deals on the lowest price bid only. Both assumptions would be wrong. Buffett often is not the highest bidder—he wins because he sells his solution as a better option to solving the other person’s problems. Often his price is considerably lower than the other person could have gotten from another buyer.
How do you get to the real dealmakers?
1. Start with the dealmaker’s problems. Most senior executives in companies are in place to solve problems.
Frustrated by sales professionals that are unwilling to change, one entrepreneur is hiring young graduates and turning them into top salespeople.
What will the next generation of sales specialists be like as employees? What will they need for training and technology? How will we find them, compensate them, and manage them? This topic has become a driving concern for many entrepreneurs. Recently I was introduced to someone with fresh ideas who is taking the longer view. Rolf Meyer, president of HARTING North America, is hiring recent graduates who have little to no experience and turning them into top salespeople.
HARTING North America, based in Elgin, Illinois, manufactures connectors. Not terribly exciting, but, as it turns out, pretty important. With all of the recent talk about “big data,” it is these connectors that send that data at warp speed to its destination.
So why go through the trouble of training new graduates when it would be a lot easier to pick up a few sales veterans from his competitors and work them into his system? Meyer explains.
1. The world has changed and veterans may not adapt—Meyer recruits young people—and demonstrably flexible people of any age—because the world is changing and they are more willing to adapt along with that change. Inflexible people are at a disadvantage in this fluid world. Here is what that means …
2. Build new habits rather than undo bad habits—”We are looking for people who can be molded into the way we do business,” says Meyer.
Want a more “entrepreneurial” culture? Try using these three smart workplace tactics.
Most founders of companies, as their businesses grow, have a nagging feeling that the company is losing its “entrepreneurial spirit.” The more employees that are added, the less each employee seems to “get” the culture and little things that make up the foundational difference between the entrepreneur’s company and its competitors.
I often hear from CEOs that they want their people to be more “entrepreneurial.” But what does that really mean? I think it is a misuse of the term. Entrepreneurs are unemployable! They need to work for themselves–it is an organic impulse.
If a company hired a bunch of entrepreneurs, that company would soon find itself with a lot of new competitors.
What founder-CEOs actually want is for their people to have some key entrepreneurial qualities. Among them:
- Passion and commitment for the business, co-workers, customers, and the job itself
- Self-motivation, self-reliance, and initiative
- A habit of treating the company’s money as if they were investing their own money
I recently spoke with Glenn Carver, author of Stand in the Heat, who has interviewed many famous entrepreneurs. He suggests that instead of hiring someone “entrepreneurial,” you use these workplace practices to develop the workforce you really need.
1. Hire for Passion
Channeling passionate people is a pleasure. Creating passion inside of dispassionate people is torture. So hire for passion: While bad business cultures can dampen it, great cultures can rarely create passion in people who do not bring it with them.
When it comes to landing that big account, success hinges on assembling a group of vital role-players