The CEO Who Needed to Hire Salespeople

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, Feb 25, 2009 @ 09:02 AM

Yesterday I spoke with a CEO who asked for some help recruiting salespeople.  It seems that the salespeople they had previously hired had failed.  As I learned more about their business, a few things became obvious to me:

  • They hadn't yet figured out the best way to find and close business - they only closed 8 deals last year, up from 4 the year before.
  • They lacked any formal sales systems or processes.
  • They were closing only 1 of 30 opportunities.
  • They were selling to people who didn't want or need their service.
  • They must sell the "why buy" rather than the "why us?"

The reality of their situation is that before they can recruit salespeople and expect them to succeed, they must first succeed themselves so that they can share their proven, time-tested, repeatable model with new salespeople.  Today they are selling by the seat of their pants and they aren't very good at it.  You simply can't bring new salespeople into an environment like that and expect them to succeed. 

Do you want to hire some horses?  Don't take the horse before the cart.

(c) Copyright 2009 Dave Kurlan

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales hiring, sales process, sales recruiting, sales management, recruiting salespeople, Sales Candidate, CEO, Closing Sales

Sales Assessments vs Personality Assessments Episode III - The PHD's Strike Back

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Feb 02, 2009 @ 22:02 PM

Are PHD's more sensitive to criticism than the rest of us?

I heard from a few over the past week and they weren't happy with what I wrote here and here.  I rocked their world and they couldn't cope.

Their problem is that they're so brainwashed by what they'd learned about testing in school that they refuse to see something as obvious as the context for their questions and the relative limitations of their findings.  They simply don't understand that they can't predict how a salesperson will perform without understanding the dynamics of the challenge and asking questions which take place within a sales context.

Do you think a question like, "Would you rather build something or sit at a desk?" will help you predict sales success at any level?   I don't have a PHD, but I have been either selling, training, managing, developing, writing about, assessing or researching salespeople professionally for 35 years.  Who knows more about what makes a salesperson tick?  A PHD or me?  They just don't think that I should have the ability to develop professional assessments.  That's supposed to be their domain.

I have nothing against PHD's.  I have friends and colleagues who are PHD's.  We have resellers who are PHD's.  I have clients with PHD's.  I have a relative with a PHD.  I sit on a Board with a PHD.  It's just that the PHD's in the HR and testing arenas believe that you must be a PHD in order to develop, administer or deliver an assessment.  They become self-righteous about it.

Over the past 20 years, we've helped companies in more than 200 industries.  Of all assessments out there, the only one, which companies seem to rely on more than ours, is Caliper.  Caliper is probably the most reputable personality assessment.  If a client needs to assess a key employee who wasn't in a sales role and wants to know how they would fit into the culture, what they may or may not like and how their personality might help or hinder them, I would suggest that they use Caliper.

However, if I wanted to understand why their salespeople weren't selling as effectively as they should be, the kind of development which they might require, whether they were in the right role, whether they could execute my strategies, whether and how much they could improve, Caliper could not accurately provide that information.  I would use Objective Management Group's (OMG) sales assessment.

That explains why, in a sales recruiting scenario, when companies use both ours and theirs, we get the call that says, "How come Caliper likes this person and OMG doesn't recommend him?"  Or, "Why does Caliper say that he has strong Drive, but OMG says that he lacks Desire?"  Or, Why does Caliper say that one of his strengths is that he is social, but OMG says that his Need for Approval is a weakness?"  Or my favorite from a call last week, "Wow, now I can see the difference. You guys really go out on a limb, don't you!  You actually show what will happen to them in the field and explain why that will either help them succeed or cause them to fail."

The PHD's refer to their years of research, data and validation.  I go back to their inability to be predictive.  The disagreement is not likely to fade soon.

(c) Copyright 2009 Dave Kurlan

Topics: sales assessment, Dave Kurlan, sales, sales force evaluation, recruiting salespeople, sales evaluation, sales development, personality assessment

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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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