Judgment Affects Sales Recruiting

Posted by Chris Mott on Fri, Feb 01, 2013 @ 10:02 AM

650 BadDecisionsLast week, I was at the Dallas Vistage International Conference.  When I checked into the hotel, there was a group of little girls dressed in performance dance attire.  We got onto the elevator together with several of the moms.  Now I hate to admit this, but by somewhere between the first floor and their floor, they reminded me of the shows like Dance Moms or Toddlers & Tiaras.  I was in the elevator with those kinds of moms and kids.  They weren't particularly modeling upright characters.

On Thursday morning, a dance troupe performed as a demonstration of Innovation, one of the categories for which Vistage gives annual member awards.  The Silhouettes, a Colorado dance company performing in silhouette format, was simply amazing and received a standing ovation.

That afternoon, I went back to the hotel and ran into a couple of the kids with their Silhouettes-logoed jackets.  When they turned around, I realized these were the same people from the elevator.  So which was it, those people or the nationally-recognized Silhouettes who'd performed that morning?  I made a very quick, yet strong, judgment based on no more than thirty seconds.

This isn’t surprising since research shows how quickly first impressions are formed, but it highlights one reason why sales recruiting so frequently backfires.

Judgment can work both ways.  I could have seen the girls in the elevator and thought, “What loving and committed parents. It’s wonderful seeing young girls doing something they love and having fun.”

Salespeople are successful not simply because they're presentable, articulate, engaging and people are comfortable being around them.  They're successful because they're highly-skilled listeners, ask great questions, follow a well-defined, structured process, are unburdened by sales-specific weaknesses and receive ongoing behavior-based coaching.  Most importantly, they may not be anyone like you or other successful salespeople in your company.  This is not to say that you should hire people who don’t share your vision, support the organizational culture nor interact well with employees.

The problem is that we often quickly judge sales candidates based on their presentation and posture.  Most successful salespeople are effective in these areas, but this doesn’t mean they have great hunting skills, are capable of engaging in a comprehensive business discussion and are skilled at helping people understand the complexity and importance of the challenges which they face.

Let me illustrate this by way of a question.  Have you ever hired a salesperson who had all the right stuff during the interviewing process, yet was not successful once you hired them?  The answer is almost always "yes".  Why does this so frequently happen to sales managers, executives, human resources and sales operations professionals?  My experience is that judgment is a significant factor.  Other contributors are lack of testing, using the wrong testing (data gathered in a non-sales context), following poorly-defined sales interviewing process and pressures to hire.  Hiring managers must be highly-skilled at seeing past first impressions, avoid emotional attachment with candidates and finally, practiced and trained on behavioral-based interviewing designed specifically for sales recruiting. 

How is judgment affecting your sales recruiting success?  Does your organization have the right stuff when it comes to hiring salespeople and sales leaders?

Find out how you can improve your sales recruiting.

Topics: sales competencies, sales culture, sales assessment, sales hiring, recruiting salespeople, sales candidates, sales personality

Do HR Professionals Understand and Respect Salespeople?

Posted by Chris Mott on Fri, Aug 24, 2012 @ 11:08 AM

HR ProfIn a recent article from Management Association, Mary Lynn Fayoumi talks about the importance of HR professionals having good sales skills.  She speaks about the necessity of “selling” great talent on coming to work for you. 

In a competitive marketplace, where specialized skills and experience are increasingly important, the ability of hiring managers to differentiate themselves and their company is critical.

If we surveyed HR professionals, asking them to define what a successful salesperson must do well, I suspect that articulating the company’s value proposition would rank very high.  The question is how?  The best salespeople help the client to discover that core business issues and unforeseen consequences make the value proposition important.

Salespeople often start off in the right direction, but then quickly find themselves in presentation mode.  The result is a loss of control and differentiation.  I believe that HR professionals suffer from the same problem.

My experience is that far too many HR executives underappreciate the science, art and difficulty of professional selling.  They can articulate the business case, cost and impact of underperforming salespeople.  They understand the opportunity cost of turnover, but they really don’t “get” salespeople and, in too many cases, underappreciate the difficulty of the sales job.  This probably isn’t surprising since most CEO’s have the same challenge because they’re from the finance, operations and/or technical side.  HR professionals also happen to spend a lot of time interacting with vendors who often don’t live up to expectations.

What makes salespeople different? 

  • They are usually highly emotional and sometimes volatile people.
  • They are not good at being introspective.
  • Asking for help is typically a weakness.
  • Compliance is not in their vocabulary.
  • Most are fairly self-absorbed.
  • They love teamwork when they are in control of the team.
  • They should ask questions which make prospects uncomfortable.
  • Details are not that important.
  • The good ones fight when prospects say no.

What percentage of these traits do you think HR professionals possess?  More importantly, how many look for these attributes when hiring great employees and how does this affect the sales talent recruitment?

 

 

Topics: sales competencies, sales blog, sales culture, sales candidates, sales personality, chris mott

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