Enter KeyAs a sales manager or business owner, you know how important it is to keep the sales pipeline flowing at all times. Same applies when it comes to keeping your hiring pipeline full at all times.

What happens when your best sales professional gets snatched up by a hungry recruiter? Will you panic and perhaps make a hasty new hire? As a hiring manager keeping your candidate pipeline full is as important as keeping your sales pipeline full.

Hiring and recruiting is rarely at the top of a sales manager’s priority list. Yet wouldn’t it be to your advantage to have quality sales candidates available when you need them. To avoid making bad hires, consider a year-round recruiting effort to keep your candidate pipeline full.

Sales: The “HUNT” Is On!


Hunting and gathering has been a primitive mindset for decades. The idea of “the Hunter” doesn’t change no matter what era we find ourselves in. In today’s sales world, increasing sales and profitability is the job of every sales professional. Yet, “Hunter” sales professionals typically look for their sale increases from transactions with new customers. They likely are successful cold-callers who work hard at finding sparks of interest in their offerings that they then develop through their sales funnels to reach a successful close. They uncover prospects who have a need for their product or service and are willing and able to make a purchase now.

Sales “hunters” often concentrate their efforts on meeting the lowest common denominator with their prospects. Hunters often focus on buyers that are looking for the most expeditious, least painful transaction they can arrange. They accomplish this by limiting the scope of the purchase to solutions or products that meet predetermined specifications or features. The “hunter’s” hope is for the product to deliver benefits limited in scope to a very narrowly framed need, problem or issue.

Where Have All The Sales Stars Gone?


You remember the song by Paula Cole, “WHERE HAVE ALL THE COWBOYS GONE”. Well these days we are finding that the same holds true for GREAT sales talent. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of sales positions left unopened has jumped to an all-time high of over 400,000. Most of the time the problem lies with not only with cuts in sales training budgets, but also how these sales professionals are being sourced. Are you, the client, utilizing the most up to date recruiting methods to find these STAR performers?

Majority of the time a stellar sales candidate is not going to just jump into your office asking for a position. Chances are they have already been swooped up by another company. When advertising for your next open sales position, think like sales professionals; sell the job, the company, the perks and benefits of working for you!

Always remember, sales skills can be; tweaked, learned and perfected. Yet the top producers have natural sales behaviors that you CANNOT teach.

How to Hire Top Sales People


If you are not familiar with Pareto Principle, more commonly known as the 80/20 rule, its basic premise is that 80% of any output will be generated by only 20% of the total input utilized.

Look at your sales team.  Is 80% of your revenues generated by 20% of your reps?   Are you spending 80% of your time managing the 80% of the reps who are not producing?  Have trained and trained your team, without significant results?

The #1 best way to improve your sales team’s performance is to hire sales performers.

When hiring sales talent, drop experience from your criteria list.  That’s right, I said DROP it. Remove it from your required skill set because your top producing sales individual is not going to be the individual with 10+ years’ experience.  It’s going to be the individual willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done.

According to The Harvard Business School’s recently conducted studythey found that top sellers possess the following character traits:

  • 100% acceptance of responsibility for results
  • Above-average ambition and desire to succeed
  • Above-average willpower and determination;
  • Self-discipline
  • Intensely goal-oriented
  • High level of customer empathy
  • Impeccably honest
  • Does not take “no” personally
  • Has the ability to approach strangers, even when it is uncomfortable to them

Does your sales team exhibit these traits?  If not, you probably have the wrong people on your team.  Stop wasting your time on the 80% who won’t produce.  And, start hiring the 20% who will.



4 Sales Styles: Have you hired the right one?


The first step in defining a sales position is to determine the sales style.  Sales style is “how” you go to market, or how you “want” to go to market.  There are four basic sales styles which are determined by two key factors: 1) Length of sales cycle and 2) Customer demand.

1.      Unique Value – Short sales cycle, Create demand

2.      Consultative – Long sales cycle, Create demand

3.      Account – Long sales cycle, Fulfill demand

4.      Commodity – Short sales cycle, Fulfill demand

Just as every position has a specific sales style; each style requires different sales competencies and behaviors.  Thus, success in one style does not necessarily translate to success in all styles.

Assessments are routinely used in our SalesScore™ hiring process to determine if sales reps fit your company’s sales style.  If you have an underperforming sales rep, perhaps the individual’s sales style does not match up with the position’s sales style.  Without a good match, the sales rep may struggle to succeed within your company.  With a good match, you have greatly increased your chances that you have hired a sales rep who can succeed.

Dirty Little Secret about Money


As a sales rep, do you openly discuss with your prospects the cost of your products and services?  At what stage of the selling process, do you discuss money?  By chance, do you wait until they ask you for a proposal?

Sales reps that avoid discussions about money may ultimately miss closing valuable business.  When a buyer says, “I can’t afford it at this time” or “this is not in our budget,” don’t believe it!  If they really need or want your product or services, they will come up with the money.  It is your role as a sales rep to find out “why” they want to buy. The only thing that is relevant is whether your product or service provides a solution that is less costly than having the problem remain unsolved.

In every sales process, sooner or later money needs to be discussed. Therefore, why not get it freely out on the table early in the sales process? By doing so, your prospect cannot use it as a weapon against you late in the sales process.

In our business, our clients almost never have a recruiting budget.  So, I openly tell my prospects early in the discovery process, “I know you probably don’t have a budget for our services and you probably have no idea what our services cost.  So, I will be upfront with you and tell you that our clients generally invest $xx – $xx for a successful search.  Is that something that would break the bank for you?”  This gets the “elephant” out of the room so we can spend the rest of our time discussing their recruiting problem and “how” we are going to solve it for them.

Find the emotional “pain” and money no longer is an issue.

(Written by: Ann Clifford)


The #1 Most Important Sales Competency


If I asked 100 Business Owners and Sales Manager what is the most important sales competency, I am sure that I would hear a variety of answers. Here is a short list I believe I would hear repeatedly by many.

  • Prospecting
  • Closing skills
  • Problem Solving
  • Ambition & Drive
  • Relationship Building

All of these answers are important, yet the degree of importance depends on the way a company sells their products and services. Not all sales positions are the same. Companies with repeat business may need to focus more on Relationship Building where as companies with a complicated solution sale may require more Problem Solving skills.

Yet, the #1 universal competency for all sales types is Ambition & Drive. You cannot teach Ambition & Drive. You either have it or you don’t.

The question you may be asking now is, “How do measure the level of Ambition & Drive in a sales candidate?” Great question and glad you asked!

Hopefully you are not relying on the candidate’s own story that they are truly motivated to be successful. (Blah, blah, blah.)  If you do, you will get stung more often than not. The best way to evaluate Ambition & Drive is through the use of sales assessments. There are many on the market that do a great job of measuring this competency.

Before your make your next hire, be sure to assess for this #1 most important competency, Ambition & Drive. Candidates without a high level of this crucial competency, may be destined to fail. And, you will feel like you are pushing them up the hill every day until you let them go.

Ann Clifford

The Best Sales Rep Is The One You Can’t Find


The best sales rep is the one you can’t find!

I don’t think it comes as any surprise to you that hiring and managing sales people is difficult.  The question is, “Why is it so difficult?”

What hiring challenges have you experienced in the past with respect to sales reps?

Would you like to make your next hiring initiative more effective?  If so, avoid these common hiring mistakes.

Common Hiring Mistakes

  1. Conducting a low quality interview vs. a high quality interview. This really needs to be taught.  It does not come with every sales manager’s tool kit.
  2. Neglecting to ask questions about gaps in a candidate’s resume or previous performance, (behavioral questions).
  3. Being misled by candidates who interview well.  Just because you like someone does not mean they will perform well once they are hired.
  4. Relying on instinct or gut feel.
  5. Not checking references. This is a painstaking task, and when done well, it can lead to hiring right the first time. It can also help the sales manager understand how to manage their new sales representative.
  6. Considering the type of sales person you need for your specific sales environment.  Different sales environments require different skills sets.  For example, if a business requires a sales rep to make dozens of cold calls but the hiring manager hires someone who is not proficient at this, the rep’s results will be less than satisfactory.
  7. They do not make use of hiring tools, such as assessments.
  8. They don’t ask candidates exactly how they will achieve results.  Asking probing questions should be part of every interview process.
  9. Talking too much during the interview.  Ned to give the applicant sufficient air time.  Listening to what they have to say in the interview.  Rule of thumb is to make sure that the candidate talks at least 70 percent of the time.
  10. Preparing for the interview.  Preparation includes reviewing the candidate’s resume beforehand, identifying possible gaps and determining key questions that must be asked.
  11. Hiring to fill a gap.  It is not uncommon for sales managers to race through the recruiting process in an effort to quickly hire someone because they need to a rep in place.
  12. Allowing interruptions during the interview. Sales Managers have dozens of tasks and projects on their plate at any given time and often allow other staff including their assistant to interrupt them during an interview.  Effective interviews must be conducted without distractions and interruptions.
  13. They only interview people who have industry experience.  Unless your industry is highly technical, you should consider people who do not have the experience in your industry.  Many people are fully capable of performing well in a new industry providing they are a suitable fit to your particular sales environment.
  14. They do not get a second opinion.  Interviewing a sales rep requires more than one perspective.  Effective sales managers get other people in the company involved in the interviewing process and they compile all of the feedback before making a hiring decision.
  15. They fail to seek clarification.  If in doubt, check it out.




Failing to Hire Sales Candidates


It’s Monday afternoon and your best salesperson just submitted his two week notice because he’s moving to out-of-state. Why didn’t he warn you? Doesn’t he know you’re in the middle of your busiest quarter in three years?

You haven’t needed to hire someone for at least six months.  The process took you months to train him, but you don’t have time to do that now. Plus, you don’t have a hiring process anyway. You were blessed last time with a referral from a fellow business owner.

Panic sets in and you begin to ask yourself, “Who do I know?” but you come up blank and start asking current employees who they know. You find the three year old job description in the back of your desk drawer and post it on the fridge in the break room.

Great news! Your office manager’s brother-in-law might is between jobs (his unemployment is about to run out) and he sold knives and magazine subscriptions in college (12 years ago.) You meet with him and spend 40 minutes talking about his last four jobs, his goal to make $100K next year, and the recent high school football game where his kid plays cornerback. “It’s better than someone unknown,” you think. You can train him! He’s a nice guy!

This, my friend, is the WRONG person for the job! And you know it. Yet, you just don’t have the extra time, energy, and possibly money needed to find Mr. or Ms. Right. In a nutshell, you’re doomed until you can stop, gather information and put together a plan.

So where do you start? You need sage advice and possibly some help – but from where? An experienced business coach, business mentor, or sales trainer may provide objectivity and a fresh perspective on where to get help.  They may suggest outsourcing this hiring function to recruiting professionals.  Traditional contingency search firms is one alternative.  Recruitment Process Outsourcing is another viable solution.

If your  past hiring efforts have not delivered the results you desire, perhaps it time to try something different.

Remember . . .hiring the wrong person even with the right intentions will usually come back to bite you.

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Prospecting With Active Goals


In my opinion, prospecting is the number one ingredient to have a successful sales career. Not everyone is built for prospecting. It can be a tough, gut-wrenching and unpleasant activity. However, if you are going to stay in sales, and you want to reach a higher level of success, you need to turn this weakness into a strength.

Become emotionally detached when you prospect. Stop feeling the rejection personally. When someone rejects you, or they aren’t interested in what you have to offer, stop feeling that it’s personal. It isn’t. They are rejecting your company, not you. Develop the mindset that you are in the ‘third person’. You are trying to get an appointment for your company, not for you. Therefore, rejection is much easier to deal with.

Realize that if prospecting is the worst part or hardest part of your job, it’s really not a bad job. You could have a much worse job – and some people do. Think about all of the limited job opportunities  you might have to settle for if you were not in sales.

Set some prospecting goals. Your goals need to be time or activity oriented – not results-oriented. Your goals should be how much time you spend prospecting every day, or how many dials you will make during the course of a day. Don’t base your goals on setting ‘X’ number of appointments. If you concentrate on time and activity, the results will take care of themselves.

Leadership vs. Management

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