What to Do About the Short Supply of Sales Candidates

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Feb 23, 2015 @ 09:02 AM


Image Copyright: 123RF Stock Photo

I don't know if this is an issue where you live but lately, where we live, grocery stores no longer sell yellow bananas!  Their entire stock is green and green ones taste bitter.  Is it the weather?  Supply and demand?  A new strategy?  Do the stores pay less when they're green?

If you've been hiring, you may have noticed the exact same thing happening with salespeople!  There aren't many ripe salespeople but there seem to be plenty of green ones.  When you have assessed, screened and interviewed a salesperson and you say to yourself, "This salesperson is exactly what we are looking for - SWEET!"  That would be yellow.  Green would represent either lack of sales experience or lack of experience in the desired selling environments.

So if green is the new yellow, what can you do?When it comes to my morning protein shake, I can add a couple of dates or some peanut butter to sweeten the shake.    When it comes to sales selection, the options aren't quite so simple.

Are the salespeople you need to hire out there?  Yes.

Are they flocking to you in droves?  No.

Do you know how to find them?  Can you get them to find you?

There are ten steps that we take when we are doing the recruiting on behalf of our clients.  We also teach our clients these steps when we are training and/or consulting with them on how to hire more effectively.  And we spend two days working with them to build this process and master the interviewing skills required to nail sales selection every single time:

  1. You absolutely must specify the requirements for the role.  A job description won't be of much help.  Instead, you must identify what makes the role challenging and the specific sales skills and Sales DNA required for success.
  2. You must write a killer job posting.  Describing the opportunity and the company won't help.  Instead, you must be able to describe your ideal candidate and the specific experiences in which they have experienced success.  You must also get the relationship between compensation and requirements just right.  Ask for too much but pay too little?  You'll see very few quality candidates. 
  3. You must use the best job sites.  Monster and CareerBuilder are so yesterday.  Indeed and Craigslist produce candidates, and if you aren't looking for a candidate in a specific geography, LinkedIn can work great!  If you aren't receiving the desired flow of candidates, you can increase your pay-per-click amount on Indeed or use their database of resumes and find the candidates you want to invite to your process.
  4. You must have candidates complete an online job application.  Ideally, this should be part of an online applicant tracking system.  This legitimizes the job and helps to distinguish it from all of the business opportunities, B2C/retail and multi-level marketing opportunities being posted.  We like New-Hire.
  5. Your candidates must complete a sales-specific candidate assessment.  This should be customized for the role, be predicitive of on-the-job success (predictive validity) and be built specifically for sales - not modified from an existing behavioral styles or personality assessment.  We not only like, but we are Objective Management Group (OMG).  Free Sample. Request a Free Trial.
  6. A quick 3-minute phone interview comes next.  Call only those candidates who, on the OMG assessment, were either recommended or worthy of consideration.  Make sure they sound great and have the required experience you need.
  7. Next you should interview your top scoring candidates.  These should be 30-45 minute interviews and the goals are to:
    • make sure they own what they have claimed on their resume,
    • make sure that their self-presentation is top-notch,
    • observe how the findings on their sales candidate assessment come to life,
    • challenge them and observe how they respond, and
    • audition them for the position.
  8. At this point, and only at this point, can you narrow down the candidates using the criteria of whether or not you like them.
  9. Bring the top candidates back for a final interview and if you want to hire them, now is the time to sell them on your company, the opportunity and their future with you.
  10. All that's left is on-boarding and if you get this wrong, you'll have wasted 9 great sales recruiting steps!  Don't set them up for failure, prepare them for success. Check out this guide to on-boarding salespeople.

There may be a lot of green bananas and sales candidates, but if you know how to shop, you'll get yellow everytime.  If you have followed the steps correctly, you won't need a huge flow of candidates, you'll simply need to get the right candidates into the pool.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales candidates, sales selection, predictive sales assessments, OMG Assessment, finding good salespeople

Sales Selection Experiment - a Must Read Case Study

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Jan 27, 2014 @ 05:01 AM

mba students sellingThis kind of story doesn't happen every day.

One of Objective Management Group's (OMG) most successful partners had an opportunity to work with young business leaders that had never sold.  They were assessed with OMG's tools, and assembled into 5 teams, all selling the exact same product.  They had to go door-to-door, sell an overpriced luxury item, in the same market, over a 3-day period.

5 people were placed on each team based on the following carefully selected scores from OMG's Sales Candidate Assessment:

  • 1 team had the best Sales DNA.  Sales DNA is a score that represents the power of the selling strengths possessed by an individual.  In this case they chose the 5 students with the best scores -  and teamed them up.
  • 1 team had the strongest overall Desire and Commitment for success in sales.  Desire is how badly one wants to succeed in sales while commitment is their willingness to do what it takes to succeed in sales.  In this case, they chose 5 students with the best scores for Desire and Commitment and teamed them up.
  • The other 3 teams had lower Sales DNA and Desire/Commitment scores that were very similar to each other.
  • Our partners provided two identical coaching sessions for each team.  The team with lowest overall commitment missed one of their coaching sessions.

OMG weighs the various findings in its Sales Candidate Assessments to predict success in a given role, market or segment, considering competition, price points and industry challenges.  Strong Desire and Commitment are must haves.  A Sales DNA score that meets the minimum required for a particular level of difficulty is another must have.  Let's see how these teams performed in their 3-day experiment, given the way the teams were assembled.

The team with the strongest Desire and Commitment made thee times the number of attempts (doorbells rung) than any other team.  One of the members of this team made 700 attempts all by himself!  This team tied for first place in most sales made.  They weren't very good at selling, they converted a smaller percentage of opportunities, but their Desire and Commitment helped them persevere.  Read more about Desire and Commitment herehere, here, here and here.

The team with the best Sales DNA converted the highest percentage of opportunities, but after hitting their quota, they quit.  They only made 800 attempts.  Not surprising to us, as a byproduct of their low severity, they also had the best scores for Value Seller and Comfort Talking about Money, supporting their effort to sell the high-priced product.

There are several conclusions that can be shared from this experiment:

  • Desire and Commitment are really important, but those two findings, by themselves, only measure the importance and effort that will go into selling success.  They aren't predictive of effectiveness.
  • Sales DNA is very predictive of effectiveness, but without other complimentary strengths and skills, it isn't enough on its own to drive performance
  • Desire, Commitment and Sales DNA are ALL very accurate predictors of certain sales accomplishments, but overall performance is a byproduct of all of the findings and scores from OMG's Sales Candidate Assessments.

This case study is a great example for those who think that Desire and Commitment are enough, for those who think that strong salespeople will succeed, even without Desire or Commitment, and for those who wonder how OMG's Sales Candidate Assessments can be so predictive.  The beauty of it is that we were able to isolate the relative effectiveness of individual findings, something we haven't been able to do since the mid 80's!  Just as important, we were able to neutralize the effect of good versus bad sales management and coaching.  There simply wasn't any sales management, and the coaching they received was consistent.  Finally, we were able to remove the impact of territories, product lines, and competition.

I am not suggesting that when you select the right salespeople, sales management is unnecessary.  It's quite the opposite.  You NEED great sales managers to select great salespeople and coach them to their potential.  The students in the experiment were awful at selling.  We simply looked at the various degrees of awful and, as always, the key scores were predictive of what they are supposed to predict.  You can read more about predictive assessments here.  And you can read more about sales management here and sales coaching here. Watch this 2-minute video on sales coaching here.  If you can't see the video, click here.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, objective management group, sales case study, predictive sales assessments, students in sales

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Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader,  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog has earned medals for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for nine 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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