Recruiting Strong Salespeople - The Sales Candidate Pipeline

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Jul 22, 2010 @ 10:07 AM

salespipelineRecruiting Salespeople - again?

Yes.  I cannot write enough about this!

But, as usual, I'll address recruiting from a slightly different perspective this time - the candidate pipeline.  Not to be confused with the candidate pool which is simply a single component of the pipeline.

Your sales pipeline should have four stages:

  1. Suspects (1st meeting scheduled)
  2. Prospects (need, compelling reasons, SOB Quality)
  3. Qualified Opportunities (fit, timing, spending, decision making, process, criteria, etc.)
  4. Closable Opportunities (committed to buying from you)

Your Candidate Pipeline should have the same four stages:

  1. Suspects (sent a resume - the candidate pool)
  2. Recommended (by the assessment)
  3. Qualified (for a face to face interview)
  4. Closable (you want to hire them)

Based on a specific salesperson's KPI's, each sold account/order could require that there be 2 closables, 4 qualifieds, 6 prospects and 9 suspects in the pipeline.  If the company requires 3 sold per month, then the pipeline should contain 6 closables, 12 qualifieds, 18 prospects and 27 suspects at all times to guarantee that the salesperson over achieves the monthly requirement.

What does it take to hire a single strong salesperson?  (and we are defining strong as meeting all of our sales capability requirements, your selling environment requirements, your sales experience requirements, your phone interview requirements, your interview requirements and your selection requirements.)  No compromises!

Using actual data from the last 3 recruiting projects that I personally conducted, your sales candidate pipeline, for each salesperson you wish to hire, should include:

  • 102 Suspects
  • 42 Prospects
  • 9 Qualified
  • 3 Closable

The last time you hired 1 salesperson, how did your candidate pipeline compare?  Did you have fewer Suspects and Prospects but more Qualifieds and Closables?

This is very simple.  If you don't really care about hiring a strong salesperson, the best salesperson, the ideal salesperson or the perfect salesperson, pay no attention to my data.  But, if you're tired of salespeople who take too long to ramp-up, fail to consistently achieve and over achieve, or just flat out fail, ask yourself how your sales recruiting process must change in order to change the results it yields.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, recruiting, sales management, sales candidates, candidate pipeline, salespeople

How to be More Effective Selecting Sales Candidates

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Sep 08, 2008 @ 14:09 PM

Benchmarking is a topic that comes up a lot around here but I haven't written too much about it.  Benchmarking is good, especially when you don't limit it to your own organization, understanding and accepting that your own company's best performance may not compare that favorably to others in your industry and, more importantly, others in business.

However, when it comes to assessing sales candidates, I strongly discourage benchmarking and here's why.

Let's start with recruiting salespeople.

When an assessment company suggests that you start by benchmarking some of your top performers, your first reaction might be a good one. You might think, "they're going to customize this!" or "they're going to see what our top performers have in common and find more of that!"

But there are problems with this approach:

  1. while companies selling behavioral styles and personality assessments  can benchmark and identify traits common to top performers, they can't actually prove that those common traits have anything to do with their sales success.
  2. while the salespeople chosen to participate in the benchmark are your top performers, if they were merged into the overall sales population, they may not even be in the top 25 percentile.
  3. do you really want to find more people "like" your top performers if items 1 and 2 above are true?
  4. if behavioral styles and personality assessment companies were truly effective (they're not) at measuring sales competencies, they wouldn't have to benchmark.  They would already know what makes salespeople effective and how to identify it.
  5. some of the traits and styles that these assessments claim to be for sales do impact and have a connection with sales but their questions are not in the context of sales and therefore produce findings that are not accurate in the context of sales.  For example, both personality and behavioral styles assessments can identify whether an individual has a tendency to become emotionally involved.  However, someone who controls their emotions quite nicely in day to day life (context of the questions in the above mentioned assessments) may not have the same success when a prospect is in the process of rejecting them.  So the finding, which may be accurate for day to day life, has no correlation to selling.

You know that assessments are important but personality assessments and behavioral styles assessments weren't built for sales.  That's why I founded Objective Management Group, Inc. in 1989.  Intended for sales.  Built for sales.  Chronically enhanced.  Modified to reflect selling in the 21st Century.

If the assessment is built for this purpose, all of that benchmarking is a waste of time - we know what it takes to succeed in sales!  And as for what it takes to succeed in your business, why look at salespeople who may not be succeeding as well as they could or should?  We simply learn what the unique challenges are to your business so that we can identify the specific strengths and skills required to meet those challenges head on.  That's customization.

I started by saying that I strongly discourage benchmarking however, I do encourage evaluating your entire sales force prior to assessing sales candidates. Not for benchmarking, but to identify:

  • selection criteria that should change;
  • issues in the recruiting process that should change
  • potential role models around whom a stronger sales force can be built;
  • the effectiveness of sales management - crucial to the on boarding of new salespeople;
  • the effectiveness of systems and processes that support salespeople;

Use common sense when recruiting.  The stronger your selection tools, the better your selecting will be!

(c) Copyright 2008 Dave Kurlan


Topics: recruiting, sales candidates, Benchmarking, Sales Benchmarking, sales assessments

Sales Force Turnover and How to Deal with it

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Aug 25, 2008 @ 01:08 AM

Leah Rust, Editor at EyesOnSales.com, interviewed me about Turnover on the Sales Force back on August 18.  The podcast highlights strategies that executives can actually use to solve their turnover problems. For those of you who are time challenged, this interviews runs less than 8 minutes!

Topics: recruiting, Sales Force, turnover

Many Recruiters Fear Sales Assessments

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Aug 22, 2008 @ 13:08 PM

I was forwarded an email that originated with from a colleague's client that read,
 
"...Many candidates are advised to not take on line sales assessments before at least a phone conversation."

Why do you think that is?

  • Recruiters don't believe in them?
  • Recruiters think they add an unnecessary step to the process?
  • Recruiters think they are smarter and can provide better insights than an assessment?
  • Recruiters feel threatened that they don't have total control when presenting the candidates?
  • Recruiters don't understand the assessments and don't want to be in a position where they must defend a finding?

You could probably make a case for any or all of those potential reasons but the real issue is this:

Most recruiters are in the business of selling sales candidates, presenting those candidates in the best possible light and hoping a client chooses one of their candidates.  OK so far.  But if their superstar candidate has to take a sales assessment, especially if it's Objective Management Group's Assessment, the candidate will be exposed and the candidate's ability or lack thereof to perform in that company will be revealed.  Take into account that in general, about half of the candidates screened by our assessment are not recommended for the position for which they applied.  For more senior sales positions, as many as 75% may not be recommended.That may help you understand the recruiter's reluctance to allow their candidate to the assessment.  After all, who is the recruiter looking out for - the client or the candidate?  Well, neither.  The recruiter looks out for number one.

I'll get a lot of flack over this article.  People will say that I'm unfairly characterizing recruiters as dealers of human flesh and that there are recruiters who not only use and pay for assessments themselves, but who guarantee the performance of the salespeople they place. I agree. If you must use a recruiter, use one of them! 

(c) Copyright 2008 Dave Kurlan 

Topics: sales assessment, recruiting, sales candidates, recruiter

Signs That the Economy Will Soon Improve

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Aug 21, 2008 @ 22:08 PM

We saw it coming.  It happened last summer, the tell tale tip off that hinted at how bad the economy had become.  One of our most popular services, something we call Express Screen Licenses, showed a dramatic drop off.

Express Screens are what we call our world-class sales candidate assessments.  Licenses allow clients to use them on an unlimited basis for a year.  The drop off could only indicate three possible scenarios:

  1. clients had stopped hiring salespeople
  2. clients were cutting back on their spending
  3. clients were dissatisfied with our service

Even though we were extremely certain that scenario #3 was not in play, we explored the option thoroughly and concluded that dissatisfaction was as far from the real reason as the age difference between McCain and Obama.

Our research into the drop off also revealed that clients had stopped hiring salespeople for two reasons:

  1. the salespeople they hired using our assessments were succeeding and they didn't need to hire any more.
  2. their plans to hire additional salespeople were placed on hold because they were being conservative and cutting back on their spending.

Today's article isn't about being more aggressive in the current economy, although I'm certain to cover that topic in an upcoming post. Today's article is about this week.  The dog days of August during an uncertain economy. 

We saw it again.  It happened this summer, the tell tale tip off that things are turning around, that CEO's are feeling confident enough to resume hiring salespeople.  Express Screens Licenses have shown a significant upswing and there are suddenly many more in the pipeline.

While Express Screen Licenses are a fairly small part of our company's revenue, they are a huge factor in our client's hiring successes and a major indicator of economic health.  If what we saw in the middle of this summer is as predictive as what we saw in the middle of last summer, the economy will begin to improve within 12 months and should be humming again sometime after that.

(c) Copyright 2008 Dave Kurlan 

Topics: recruiting, sales candidates, Economy, sales assessments

Sales Competencies and Case Histories from Using Sales Assessments - The Series

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Aug 20, 2008 @ 10:08 AM

This series of articles describes the various case histories, findings and entertaining stories from assessments used on sales candidates and evaluations of sales forces.

Learn How We Discovered They Had the Wrong Salespeople

Will This Candidate Really Fail if I Hire Him? 

Case History - Achieve the Lowest Turnover in the Entire Sales Force

What Would You Do? Sales Force Attempts to Maintain Status Quo

Do Chain Reactions Like This Really Occur When Selling?

Are Women Less Trainable?

Every Sales Assessment Tells a Story - This is Fred's Story

After Accepting the Job Will Your Sales Candidate Back Out?

The Unusual Case of Arturo - How He Sabotaged His Own Sales

The Sales Assessment Client Who Didn't Renew After All These Years

Sales Assessment Findings - Another Preview of the Interview

10 Lessons from the Sales Candidate Who Smelled Like He Peed on Himself

Recruiters Fear Assessments

Sales Manager Resigns After Reading Sales Assessment

Sales Assessments Come to Life Part 2

The Top 10 Steps to Recruit Top Salespeople

Management Resistance to Topgrading the Sales Force

How Are Assessments Used?

When Management Gets Push Back

A Sales Management Candidate Shows His True Colors

Managing Salespeople that Work in a Remote Location

Can Sales Assessments Actually Predict On the Job Performance?

Sales Candidate Doesn't Qualify

It's a Misunderstanding

Latest and Greatest

Rejected

Sales Candidates - How to Get the Ones You Want Part 2

Sales Candidates - How to Get the Ones You Want Part 1

How Do You Find the Right Sales Candidates?

Hiring Salespeople - Phone Interview Comes to Life Part 3

Hiring Salespeople - Phone Interview Comes to Life Part 2

Hiring Salespeople - Phone Interview Comes to Life Part 1

I Don't Believe This Stuff

More Hirable Sales Candidates

This Salesperson Was A Great Employee But I Wouldn't Hire Him Again

They Couldn't All Be Bad

Why Isn't This Salesperson Hirable?

Denial Over a Sales Force Evaluation

Personality Tests - Are They Worth the Risk?

The Correlation Between the Findings and Performance

Sales Assessment More Accurate Than Management Thinks

10 Reasons for HR to Hire Winning Salespeople Using Assessments

Will This Candidate Really Fail if I Hire Him? 

The Phony Baloney Sales Superstar

Case History - Another Pitiful Sales Cold Call Exposed

A Good Look at Bad Salespeople - Companies Don't Get This!

Analogies for Boosting Sales

Why You Must Understand This about Desire for Sales Success

Sales Selection Experiment - Part 2 - It's Back!

Topics: sales force evaluation, recruiting, sales core competencies, assessment

Sales - What the Data Tells Us - The Series

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Aug 13, 2008 @ 22:08 PM

Is there data which actually illustrates and supports what drives sales performance, hiring great salespeople, and developing salespeople?  Is it meaningful?  If the data is compelling, would you modify your views, beliefs, practices and behaviors? 

I've written a number of articles based on my research, our data from assessing salespeople, statistics and/or pure science.  Some of the articles pertain to sales performance, while others are based on the hundreds of thousands of salespeople whom we have assessed.

This article series is called Sales - What the Data Tells UsWhile some of the articles simply report the research and/or data, others share either my insights about the data or provide data to support my insights.  Here are the articles:

Finally!  Science Reveals the Actual Impact of Sales Coaching

Top 13 Requirements to Help You Soar as a Sales Manager

The Top 8 Requirements for Becoming a Great Salesperson

Popularity Polls are Just Like Sales Management Tracking Metrics!

Why are Half of All Sales Reps Still Missing Quota in a Booming US Economy?

Data Shows That Only 14% are Qualified for the Easiest Selling Roles

Last Day Madness on the Sales Force - That's One Kind of Urgency

Examples of How Salespeople Lose Credibility with Their Prospects

Golden Nuggets from the CSO Insights 2018 Sales Talent Study

New Data Shows that You Can Double Revenue by Overcoming This One Sales Weakness

Salespeople With This Weakness Score 47% Worse at Reaching Decision Makers

Which 4 Sales Competencies Best Differentiate Top from Bottom Salespeople?

Where Can You Find the Best Salespeople?

The Top 12 Factors that Cause Delayed Closings and What to Do About Them

Do the Best Sales Managers Have the Best Salespeople?

New Data Shows That Elite Salespeople are 700% Less Likely to Do This

Elite Salespeople are 26 Times More Effective at This Competency Than Weak Salespeople

Does Being a Strong Qualifier Correlate to Having a Strong Pipeline?

Elite Salespeople are 200% Better in These 3 Sales Competencies

Latest Data - Strong Salespeople Score 375% Better Than Weak Salespeople

Sales Pipeline Data Shows That Most Late Stage Opportunities Just Aren't

Latest Data Shows Most Salespeople Would be Fired or Arrested if they Worked in Accounting

New Data - Are Experienced Sales Managers Better Sales Managers?

The Latest Data Shows That Sales Managers Are Even Worse Than I Thought

Sales Playbook and CRM Problems - What the Data Tells Us

New Data Shows How Relationships and the Need to be Liked Impact Sales Performance

New Data Shows Sales Weaknesses Cause Powerful Chain Reactions in Salespeople

Discovered - Data Reveals the Second Biggest Obstacle to Closing More Sales

Discovered - Data Reveals the Biggest Obstacle to Closing More Sales

The Wrong Salespeople are Hired 77% of the Time

New Data Reveals Why Veteran Salespeople Are Not Better Than New Salespeople

Data Shows Most Salespeople are Dinosaurs When it Comes to Social Selling

Data Shows 1st Year Sales Improvement of 51% in this Competency

Are Millennials Who Enter Sales Better or Worse Than the Rest of the Sales Population?

The Official 2017 List of 21 Sales Core Competencies

Are Millennials Who Enter Sales Better or Worse Than the Rest of the Sales Population?

HBR or OMG - Whose Data Really Differentiates the Top from Bottom Salespeople?

Those Who Follow Sales Best Practices Don't Necessarily Become Top Performers

What Percentage of New Salespeople Effectively Reach Decision Makers?

Surprising New Data Busts the Myths about Relationship Selling and Social Selling

New Analysis Shows the 5 Biggest Gaps Between Top and Bottom Sales Performers

The One Sales Data Point that Varies Wildly

What Percentage of New Salespeople Reach Decision Makers?

Surprising New Data on Salespeople Busts the Myths about Relationship Selling and Social Selling

Big Data and Big Lies Have Arrived in the Sales Training and Assessment Space

What Do You Blame When Salespeople Don't Schedule Enough New Meetings?

Breaking News - More Salespeople Suck Than Ever Before (and Why)

Can the Lack Commitment to Sales Success Finding be Wrong?

Can the Worst Salespeople be Saved?

Beach Ball of Death Predicts Lack of Sales Growth

Rebuttal to What Elite Salespeople Do Differently

Science and the Length of Your Sales Cycle

Validation of the Validation of the Sales Assessment

Presidents & CEO's: 4 Out of 5 Sales Managers Are Ineffective!

The Real Problem with the Sales Profession and Sales Leadership

Are Sales and Sales Management Candidates Getting Worse?

Sales Excellence Studies Propagate Mediocrity

Top 5 Insights From Latest Sales Organization Studies

Dan Pink Hits and Then Misses the New Key to Sales Performance

Another HBR Article on Sales Leaves Me with Mixed Feelings

Are (Lack of) Results Due to the Salesperson or the Company?

When are Salespeople Too Old to Sell Effectively? 10 Conditions

Getting Reluctant Salespeople to Fill Their Empty Pipelines

The 5 Keys to Effective Sales Coaching and Results

Why Do So Many Salespeople Fail to Make Quota?

Why Most Companies are Struggling to Grow Revenue

Sales Leaders Got These Issues All Wrong

Does Your Sales Force Look Like This?

Should You Restage Your Sales Pipeline?

Another Sales Assessment Takes on OMG - What Does it Reveal?

Are Women in Sales Less Trainable?

The Sales Assessment Client Who Didn't Renew after All These Years

Why Young Male Salespeople are at a Disadvantage

The Latest Astonishing Findings About Sales Managers

Revealing Study of Salespeople Makes News at HBR

Most Salespeople Suck at Selling

Sales Effectiveness - IDC and CEB Draw Conflicting Conclusions

How Many Salespeople Made Quota in 2010?

Another Behavioral Style Assessment Pretends to Assess Salespeople

The Science of Achievement Applied to Sales Success

Caliper and Selling Power Hit and Then Miss the Mark on Sales

Harvard Business Review Hit and Then Missed the Mark on Sales

Rejection Proof - The Science Behind Success in Sales

The Top 10 Reasons Why Sales Commitment is More Important

Top 10 Reasons Why Commitment Has Become More Important

But I'm a Sales Guy! The Story of Motivation and Compensation

What Sales Leaders Don't Know about Ego and Empathy

Call Reluctance in Salespeople - Causes, Factors and Predictors

The Top 5 Factors to Prevent Sales Turnover

The Science of Selling - Rules versus Data

Does Sales Assessment Completion Time Affect Validity?

Are Sales Cycles Really Getting Shorter?

Ultimate Comparison of Sales Superstars and Sales Losers

How to Hire the Best Salespeople on the Planet

More Than Half of All Sales Managers Should Consider...

How Many Salespeople Shouldn't be in Sales?

Personality Assessments for Sales - The Definitive Case Study

Misleading Statistics and Hiring the Wrong Salespeople

Who Are Better Salespeople - Men or Women?

Top 5 Reasons Why OMG's Assessments are More Predictive

Sales Statistics that Reveal Sales Effectiveness

How to Select More Effective Sales Candidates

Fact Based Reasons Why New Salespeople Fail - the Data Points

Misleading Sales Numbers Part 2

What Do Sales Managers Do With Their Time?

Myths About Top Performing Salespeople

10 Reasons for HR and Sales Management to Hire Winning Salespeople Using Assessments

Sales Assessments - More Accurate Than Sales Management Thinks

Pfizer Reduces Size of Sales Force by 20%

Sales Hiring Efficiency

The Correlation Between the Findings and Performance

A Behavioral Styles Assessment versus OMG's Assessment

How to Elminate the 80/20 Rule on Your Sales Force

Sales Coaching - Between the Lines

How to Find More Hirable Sales Candidates

Where Are All the Hunters and Farmers?

Is He or Isn't He?

How to Close a Sale using Proof of Concept


B2B Salespeople Send 16,000+ Unqualified Proposals Each Day

Why You Should Care That Sales Motivation Data Correlates Perfectly with Sales Performance

Can Sales Statistics be Good and Bad at the Same Time?

 

 

Topics: sales competencies, assessments, recruiting, Sales Coaching, accountability, leadership, Motivation

The Lost Gospels - Most Sales Candidates Really Suck!

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Aug 06, 2008 @ 17:08 PM

You know how this works.  You're looking for one thing that you can't find and come across another thing that you couldn't find - in this case, three years ago!

I located some lost statistics relating to some of the more than 350,000 salespeople we have assessed, as it applies to sales candidates.  While you (not me) like to look at industry experience, and who they know, and how sharp and friendly they are, I like to look at more objective data points.  Try these on for size:

24% of all candidates will not prospect - at all!
Only 1% of all hunters have the complete Hunter Skill Set.
Only 8% of all candidates could be considered Hunters.  And how many of you want your new salespeople to hunt for new business? 
The typical candidate will have between 27% and 52% of the attributes of a hunter.

Why?  Salespeople who dislike prospecting dislike it for a reason.  They have beliefs and fears that cause anxiety and physical reactions to even the thought of prospecting. So some won't do it at all, some will have difficulty getting started and some will have difficulty finishing.

45% of all candidates will not close - at all!
Less than 1% of all candidates have the complete Closer Skill Set.
The typical candidate will possess less than 23% of the attributes of a closer.

Why? Salespeople confuse asking with getting.  Most salespeople know how to ask for the business but very few salespeople know how to get the business when prospects resist.  As with hunting, there are beliefs and fears that impact their behavior and when salespeople aren't comfortable saying the words you've taught them, they substitute words that make them more comfortable.  What makes them comfortable?  Presenting features and benefits, actions that don't put their prospects on the spot, that don't create stalls, put-offs, objections and excuses, that they absolutely don't want to deal with.

What does all this mean?  You must have a structured, world-class, sales recruiting process that features a world-class sales specific assessment to consistently identify the sales candidates that will prosper at your company.

(c) Copyright 2008 Dave Kurlan 

Topics: recruiting, assessment

With Manny in LA LA Land the Sales Force Can Produce

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Aug 01, 2008 @ 15:08 PM

I posted this article earlier in the week before Manny Complainez was traded to the LA Dodgers. Mike Carroll posted this article earlier today.  The King of Self-Centeredness was granted his wish and sent off, leaving his teammates relieved, happy, and excited about their team's future.

When your prima dona sales reps resign, your remaining salespeople feel the same way as Manny's teammates. Let's go sell because there's nothing distracting us now.  Let's set some records because there's nobody bringing us down.  Let's make some money because there's nobody trying to hog all the attention. Let's have some fun because now this is a fun place to work.

Bye Manny.

Hello Harmony.

I'm looking forward to seeing the Red Sox climb out of the dark hole they've been in the last several weeks.

While this is an obvious issue for leadership, it's also somewhat of a recruiting issue.  It's leadership's responsibility to make the decisions to get rid of the Manny's that cause the problems that prevent everyone from producing to their potential.  It's part of a company's overall recruiting strategy to have a termination policy.  What's yours? 

(c) Copyright 2008 Dave Kurlan             

Topics: recruiting, leadership

Does Changing Compensation Increase Sales?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Jul 31, 2008 @ 11:07 AM

Back on Wednesday, I was part of a panel, along with Lee Salz, author of How to Soar Despite Your Dodo Sales Manager and Mike McCue, editor in chief of Sales & Marketing Management Magazine, at the Incentive Marketing Association conference in Boston.

One of the attendees asked how she could change the compensation for her highly paid, salaried producers, in order to provide the incentive to sell more.

If that's all it takes, getting salespeople to sell more would be easy!  One of the many areas we analyze when we evaluate sales organizations is to what degree the salespeople are motivated to earn more money.  In a sales force like hers, we would likely find that the salespeople are not very motivated to earn more money and would likely rebel if the compensation were changed to pay less in salary and more in commissions.  There are two important points to understand:

  1. If a higher risk - higher reward plan would excite them, they wouldn't be working for this company in the first place.
  2. There is an enormous difference between wanting more money ("pay me more") and being motivated to go out and earn more (what must I do to earn another $50,000 this year?")

It all goes back to hiring the right people in the first place.  Salespeople who are looking for security will never be your top producers.

(c) Copyright 2008 Dave Kurlan 

Topics: recruiting, Motivation

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Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader.  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog earned a medal for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for six consecutive years. This article earned a Bronze Medal for Top Sales Blog post in 2016, this one earned a Silver medal for 2017, and this article earned Silver for 2018. Read more about Dave.

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