• The 3 Biggest Mistakes When Hiring Sales Talent

    steve bWe consistently have clients coming to us for help with fixing their underperforming sales people. Often we can help but sometimes we have to advise that the person concerned is wrong for the role and there is little that can be done to fix the problem. Better, by far, to hire the right people in the first place.

    Over the years we’ve learned some pretty important lessons around interviewing sales people. Here are three common interview pitfalls you should really try to avoid.

    Mistake 1: Interviewing the CV.

    Fast forward to your next interview. It is five minutes before the candidate will be on the phone or in front of you. You say to yourself, who is this guy? You then frantically print out the resume and skim it. You then proceed to interview the CV. “Tell me about the job you had? What was your success there? Why did you leave? Blah, Blah, Blah…”

    I’m sure your process isn’t as bad as this, however, here’s the mistake: you need to know what you are looking for. Define your needs beyond the CV and the clichés. Start with understanding what the key job functions actually are and rank the importance of each one.

    Mistake 2: Placing emphasis on the wrong selling skills.

    You only have a certain amount of time with your candidates. Make sure you know which skills are most important for success. For example, we sometimes hear clients say that they ask a candidate to “do a presentation” during the interview. Having them do a presentation is not a bad idea, however, what’s your process for understanding the candidate’s ability to prospect or question and qualify what the client actually needs? In your world, is that more important than the presentation?

    In the past have you hired people that love to present and then spend their days and nights “chasing” and “following up?” What are the top 10 skills they need to execute to be successful? We often see this list vary however presentation skills are rarely in the top 5.

    Mistake 3: Assuming that because they can do something, they actually will.

    “Will Do” is the hardest thing to judge during an interview. Attitude and motivation can sometimes be faked long enough to get a candidate through an interview. Sales people can have talent but can lose their drive and motivation. Ask yourself the question, especially of sales people in the latter stages of their career – why have they not succeeded in past roles and are now applying for a new job? Sometimes there is a good reason but beware of people with careers that have stalled or are in decline.

    We recommend you use hiring assessments to measure core competencies around:

    • Ambition and drive
    • Takes action
    • Resists stall and objections
    • Accepts responsibility

    Without these assessments, you are relying on likability and gut feel. Your odds of finding an effective candidate will suffer.

    Steve Buiskool

    Steve Buiskool

    Steve Buiskool is Managing Director of Sandler Training in Cheltenham. He works with companies who wish to increase their return on the investment made in their sales team and with local business owners who need to improve their own business development skills. Prior to starting Sandler Cheltenham, Steve had a 25 year sales career including Sales Director positions with CapGemini and Capita. He also specialised in leading major deals in the IT, BPO and consulting markets. Tel: 01242 420750 Mobile: 0750 750 5996

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  • Are Your Employees Motivated To Help Achieve Your Business Growth?

    In Daniel Pink’s book, Drive, he concludes that intrinsic motivation rather than rewards based motivation is a stronger factor to influence our employees’ production. This resonates with what David Sandler wrote over 20 year ago that the carrot and stick approach only produces short-term results.

    Pink says that there are three key areas of intrinsic motivation;

    • Autonomy – The urge to direct our own lives
    • Mastery – The desire to get better and better at something that matters
    • Purpose – Doing what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves

    He goes on to say that “the use of rewards and punishments to control our employees’ production is an antiquated way of managing people.  To maximise their enjoyment and productivity for 21st-century work, we need to upgrade our thinking to include autonomy, mastery and purpose. Goals that people set for themselves and that are devoted to attaining mastery are usually healthy, for example, deepening learning, delighting customers and doing one’s best”.

    When we link this to business growth, can this insightful research help leaders discuss and agree goals with employees?

    We know that the company’s vision should be built from the top down and supported from the bottom up. The vision should be cascaded down to departmental goals and objectives and then down to individuals goals and motivations. Activities at every level should move the organisation towards that future goal. For that to happen, everyone’s activities must be in sync with the vision. If they are not, people may be working diligently, but not necessarily in alignment with the company’s goals. Their personal performance may be effective, but not in relation to the corporate goal. They may be highly motivated, but about the wrong priorities.

    Engagement surveys provide organisational leaders with valuable insight about employees’ feelings and attitudes by giving employees the chance to anonymously offer their opinions about their workplace environment. So ask yourself a question, if your annual engagement survey results were down this year, are employees goals linked enough to intrinsic desires?  If not, maybe now is the time to re-evaluate performance management in your organisation.

    Paul Sandford

    Paul Sandford

    Paul has over 30 years experience in business. He has a proven, track record with international technology companies, SAP SuccessFactors, Basware and Open Text, achieving significant growth revenue in competitive marketplaces. His last corporate role was at SAP SuccessFactors where he built a new market for them with Cloud HR Solutions into the risk adverse UK Public Sector growing the business from zero to £4M (over the customer lifespan) within two and half years. He now works with Business Owners, CEO’s, Managing Directors, VP’s of Sales and Senior Partners who are committed to growing their businesses and recognise that they need to be more effective in sales, customer care and performance management. Paul Sandford runs Sandler Training in North Hampshire based in Basingstoke

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  • The power of the 30 second commercial

    I was chatting to an old client from my last company about how his business was getting on.

    He was happy with it so far but felt that many of his potential prospects didn’t understand his company no matter how much he told them about what they did.

    This reminded me of a quote I read in the Sandler book “You can’t teach a kid to ride a bike in a seminar”.

    The book quoted George Bernard Shaw and said:

    “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place”.

    So I asked about his thirty second commercial.

    This stopped him dead in his tracks. “I have 2000 product lines; I can’t get that in a thirty second commercial! We need to sit down for 3 hours so that I can tell you about them”.

    Clearly, if he wanted to list all his offerings in that time, thirty seconds was a tough ask.

    Conversely, I wasn’t that hungry to listen to his product list for the time it takes me to drive from Manchester to London.

    But is it effective and does he really needs to spit out a product list in a first call or interaction?

    This is why a readily prepared thirty-second commercial can be so useful in shortening a sales process.

    However, a common misconception of the “Thirty-second commercial” or the “elevator pitch” is that you have to talk about what you have, Features, Advantages, Benefit’s.

    This might feel great for the “elevator pitcher” but often fails to meet the needs of the “elevator pitchee” and rarely can be achieved in thirty seconds. The result can often be confusion and discomfort. This can make both people in the conversation be “not OK”.

    A thirty-second commercial can give enough of an indication to anyone, to understand if there was at least a future conversation to be had on this subject.

    The listener has to understand that by engaging with this company, which pains may be taken away from them, leaving them with a clear vision of how the future could look.

    You don’t have to mention in detail products or services, you just have to help them to understand how they typically will feel after a successful implementation of the product or service.

    Focus on the pains that your product or service can eliminate. Help them imagine how their world can look without those pains. Then you can both see if there is a real business reason for you to spend any more time together.


    Roy Johnson

    Roy Johnson

    For twenty seven years Roy Johnson worked globally where he held leadership positions in market leading industrial automation and communications companies. Having left corporate life in 2014 he started his own sales training and management consultancy. Typically, his clients include entrepreneurs, CEOs, start-ups, Sales Directors, MDs, Senior Partners and business owners. These are often people who went into business to follow their passion with a requirement to build a client base to make it successful. They are either looking to put a sales system with coherence and clarity in place and/or take the business to the next level. Roy helps them to develop a successful sales culture so that they can make tough sales decisions based on real data rather than instinct. Mob +44 (0)7867525868 Tel +44 (0)1782 518040

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  • Finding pain

    Finding “pain” is core to the Sandler sales process. At first I found that offensive. Why would we deliberately look for what is making our potential clients uncomfortable? Is that not really creating dissatisfaction? Have we not swapped persuading people to do something through our positive merits for making them squirm so they have to act?

    Then I realised that the real offence comes when we arrogantly assume we know what the prospect wants when we unilaterally decide what the solution should be and then get assertive when the prospect dives out of sight.

    If we do not find out what the real issue is, we cannot be effective in fixing it. If the prospect does not know, or cannot articulate, the real seriousness of the problem, the client-to-be cannot appreciate our expertise. If we are determined to avoid painful questions but retreat to the safety of features and benefits, then we cannot have the right to be the only organisation they are talking to.

    So “finding pain” is simply finding out what the problem is, how serious the problem is, and how that problem impacts the decision maker in front of us.  They are unlikely to have experienced this ever before.

    How we do that is through a simple set of questions, the famous “pain funnel”. To make sure the prospect understands that the best option to help create a solution with us, we need to go through those questions more than once, two, even better, three strong pains and the need to shop around starts to dissipate. Budget is easier to find, decision cycles are easier to implement, and the need for detailed presentations often disappears entirely.

    Do you want to get good at these gentle, yet powerful questions? It needs a complete change in habit, but perhaps worth asking your local Sandler trainer?

    Paul Glynn

    Paul Glynn

    Paul’s experience spans over twenty years of selling, sales management and training. He has worked in the financial services sector including accountancy and has been responsible for the commercial success of sales departments at director level in advertising. His clients report up to 300% increase in turnover by working with him. He is dedicated to helping businesses grow through assessments, training, coaching and mentoring. Tel: 01784 390623 Mobile: 07866 518848

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