Thursday, August 13, 2009

Hiring Top Sales Talent

Hiring Top Sales Talent

If you’re hoping to hire the top sales talent on the market then you are looking for people who are working for someone else. The top sales talent is not the candidate that is walking through your front door, replying to your ads or placing their resume online. Finding the best possible sales talent who can fit within your culture and contribute within your organization is a real challenge and requires a lot more time and effort to find than you might think. The following are some specific actions you might want to consider to recruit the top sales talent you need to grow your business.

Here are ten tips for better recruiting of top sales talent.

1. Invest time developing relationships with recruiters and executive search firms. Recruiters and search firms have the ability to contact competitors and companies in similar industries and can open doors that you cannot.

2. You should participate in industry tradeshows and conferences where top sales talent is likely to attend. When top sales talent looks for a new career often they will attend trade shows and mingle with other sales executives during the show trying to learn more about particular companies and their sales organizations.

3. Join networking and leads groups. This is where most successful sales talent spends their time looking for new leads.

4. Use industry association websites and magazines to advertise for sales professionals.

5. Don’t forget to look at in-house candidates. There may be an individual that is ready to move up to the next level of sales. From training prospective, it is cheaper and easier to promote someone from within.

6. Get your existing sales team involved in the talent hunt. Most top sales talent know their competition and can tell you who they most fear going up against. Figure out how to approach those individuals. With the help of your existing sales team, reach out to these individuals by using multiple touches from different individuals from within your firm.

7. Don’t be afraid to hire a top sales talent away from another industry. When considering sales talent it is much harder to find someone with solid sales techniques than it is to teach them product knowledge. A solid sales performer will be successful regardless of the product they sell.

8. Forget about the thoughts of finding someone with a ready-made “Book of Business”. Top sales talent rarely comes with a substantial book of business. Most top sales professionals have signed a non-compete and will not be able to immediately call on their existing clients. However, most non-compete agreements do not prohibit former clients from calling on top sales talent. So hire the best and promote where they are to the best of your ability.

9. Make sure that you have a Sales Plan and Compensation Package that promote both the company’s goals and the candidates’. Sales people are different from everyone else in the company. They are driven by only one thing and that is making money. Anything you do that gets in the way of this objective will hamper the relationship.

10. Make sure that you have given some thought as to how you will “bridge the compensation gap” between your base salary offer and what the candidate is currently making. Accurately knowing when the candidate will begin earning commissions based on your average sales cycle is critical in the hiring process. Top sales talent will not be willing to take a step backward in their monthly earning potential while they are ramping up new sales in your organization.

If you would like more information on hiring top sales talent contact us today at

Friday, August 7, 2009

Top 10 Things to Consider When Submitting Your Resume To A Recruiter

Each year 83% of the candidates that get a new job find that job in one of the following three ways; networking, using a recruiter or contacting the company directly. Given this fact it is critical that you properly format your resume to make it easy for both recruiters and hiring managers to get your information into their Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS).

Today all major recruiters and corporations are using ATS to evaluate and track candidates. These tracking systems automatically parse (enter the data) directly into their system removing the need for human data input or typing. While it reduces the number of input errors it only works well when your resume is formatted properly to take advantage of this new process.

The following tips will help to make sure that your resume ends up in an ATS and that it will be readable when it gets there.

1. Make sure the file format you use is Word. No rtf’s, no pdf’s, no wps’s no txt. Word is the primary file format that is most easily read by ATS parsing systems.
2. Your resume filename convention should be “firstnameLastnameResume.docx”. Not “bestversion.docx” or “final.docx” or “latestestupdate.docx”.
3. When emailing your resume, make sure your attachments are in the following order; resume first, cover letter second, and references third. Make sure your references are in a separate document and not in your resume.
4. Make sure that your use of bullets is kept to a minimum. Bullets and dashes do not translate well when converted from software to online job boards to ATS parsing systems. The use of the asterisk (*) translates much better than a bullet.
5. Make sure that your email address is clearly placed in your resume and that you do not have any characters other than a space in front of or behind the your email address.
6. Start your resume with your name, address, phone and email information at the top of the page. DO NOT include your vital information in a header or text box.
7. Do not use color or lines in your resume. No blue text, no red text. No dotted lines. No lines to divide sections. They all get converted poorly.
8. Avoid using text boxes and tables in general. Make your resume as easy to read as possible. Remember it is just the key that unlocks the door for the interview not the whole story.
9. Place a “key word” section at the end of your resume that includes all of the words that describe your background and experience. This is also a great place to put all of the companies your have done business with over the years in addition to those where you have worked.
10. Pictures do not import when embedded inside a resume. It is a good idea to include a professional photo with your resume, but add it as a separate file in your email.

If you have additional questions about finding a job in the Web 2.0 world, visit our website at

Friday, July 31, 2009

Sometimes Team Success is About Harnessing the Power of Self

Voracity is a very powerful emotion that, if harnessed properly, can be both self-serving and profitable for any business. The secret is to find a way to create an environment where selfishness can and will serve two masters. How can that be done? I'm glad you asked!

Remember why you came to work today, and be honest with yourself. Your first answer (company line) is that you wanted to get started on making your company the best and most highly-respected in the nation or the world. But ask again, this time giving yourself a chance to reflect a bit further. OK, so you might have come to earn a paycheck so that you can pay the bills and possibly have a little left over to spend on yourself. The introspection continues: Will I have more income than expenses this week? Will I be able to take a vacation? Can I afford to go out to diner tonight rather than having to eat at home in front of the television? Suddenly, your honorable corporate mantra seems a little less believable. You’re horrified with yourself.

Don't be ashamed. Aligning personal goals with professional objectives is the win-win of management today. Every employee in the company must clearly understand that the way they make more money is for the company to make more money. They must understand how going the extra mile will result in their personal gain. How will they be able to improve their lives by improving the service or products the company has to offer?

Compensation plans that are too complicated or take too long from the time of service to reward are not the answer. False hope and empty promises will do more to decrease morale than any other aspect of management. Reward programs must be easy to understand, directly tied to measurable outcomes, and frequent in nature. When you start to see small increases in your pay over a short period of time it will motivate you and others to keep up the good work.

Core Beliefs by Functional Area


  • The best strategic plans are the ones that actually get executed
  • The obvious is hard to do
  • Good management is not a luxury and is more important in hard times
  • Great companies are always defining and refining their strategy.
  • You have to know why your are in business
  • Great companies are constantly re-investing in themselves
  • Understanding the value of taking risks is key to growth
  • Well-managed companies make more money
  • Organizations are as good/bad as their leaders
  • Achieving shared vision and alignment is a constant struggle
  • Management requires and is a discipline
  • An outside view adds value, perspective can be limiting


  • We’re all equally limited and empowered by our experiences
  • Great companies have history/stories – well-defined culture
  • Leadership and management go hand in hand but are not the same things
  • Achieving shared vision and alignment is a constant struggle
  • Great companies are constantly learning organizations
  • Empowering employees to an ownership mentality is key to success
  • Individuals have the potential to do great things, leaders must learn to unlock it
  • Great companies have history/stories – well-defined culture
  • Communication is always happening, the real question is are you a part of it?


  • Hard work doesn’t necessarily equal profits
  • Activity is not productivity
  • Process with the right amount of structure & freedom is key to success
  • Tools are essential to producing work
  • Quality is never a trade off
  • Customers are the reason we are in business
  • Marketing is not a dirty word
  • Marketing is a science
  • Selling doesn’t start until the potential customers say "no"
  • Business doesn’t start until you sell somebody something

Using CRM to Improve Your Marketing ROI

"Marketing ROI" is a trendy catch-phrase these days, but what does it really mean? While many top managers we speak to think their marketing programs are generating positive results, in reality, most of them don't really know.

Since Marketing's top priority is to generate qualified leads for Sales, management's focus should be on measuring the quantity and quality of leads which Marketing is driving into the sales pipeline, and which Sales is converting into revenue. The best place to capture and analyze this information is in your CRM (customer relationship management) system.

Yet getting this information from most CRMs is difficult, because sales orders typically bypass the CRM altogether and are entered into a separate Order Entry system. Too often, it is difficult to track sales orders back to the marketing program that originally generated the sales lead.

If you are serious about tracking the return on investment from your marketing efforts, here are some simple but critical steps you should follow to capture the right data, at the right time in the sales process:

  1. Make sure your sales people are accurately tracking each actual sale in your CRM system, by converting opportunities into closed orders, with accurate order values.
  2. In addition to normal CRM entries, make sure your CRM has standard fields to capture the following data:
    Lead Source
    Market Segment
    Sales Region
    Reason for Win/Loss
  3. Train and require all marketing and sales personnel to fill in each of these fields in the CRM consistently, as leads are generated throughout the sales process. Many companies program rules into their CRM workflow which makes these fields required.
  4. Take steps to collect, analyze and measure the results of each campaign, as soon as the campaign has been completed. This will allow you to capture the information while it is still fresh, and instill discipline and accountability in your organization to regularly report results.
  5. Proactively track and compile statistics for management which highlight Marketing's contribution to Sales' success. At a minimum, management should be receiving quarterly reports with the following marketing data, sorted by campaign, lead source and sales region:
    Total leads generated
    Leads passed to Sales
    Orders from leads (number, dollar value)
    Close ratio
    Total campaign investment
    Sales divided by campaign investment (ROI)

By creating and following these simple processes, you can be among the few companies out there that are actually measuring their Marketing ROI efficiently. The benefits from such discipline are numerous, including:

Continuous campaign improvement
Better marketing budget justification
Improved recognition of Marketing's role in driving sales growth
Better collaboration between Marketing & Sales
Increased revenue and profit!

Telesales Success: Begin with the End in Mind

You may remember the following excerpt from Steven Covey's book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: "Clients often ask me, 'how can we get our inside sales team to talk to more prospects?' Sure...threats, begging, yelling, low level torture, coercion, and brut force entice reps to make more calls as long as the manager is there with his whip, but productivity plunges when the manager isn't around. I believe the motivation to expose yourself to rejection multiple times per day has to come from within."

For salespeople with the potential to be motivated "from within", I have used the following exercise that beings with these two questions:

What do you want to earn in the next year? How much do you need to sell in order to earn that sum?

Then together, we calculate the daily level of activity needed to accomplish that earning goal.

While everyone says they want to make $100,000+ per year, most folks aren't willing to put in the necessary effort. The difference between success and failure in goal-setting is the participants' acknowledgement that they REALLY want to earn six figures and not just fantasize about it.

If sales are lacking, we examine why deals are being lost to competitors and then develop a closing strategy for the other deals in the pipeline. If the pipeline is thin, usually the reason is insufficient activity (calls and contacts).

My motivational conversations with sales executives generally go something like this, "I want to help you hit your goal, and I'm concerned you will come up short if something doesn't change." If after a few sessions, I don't see increased activity, it is generally because the person has concluded that they can't or won't meet expectations.

Of course, exceptions occur. For instance, some people have seemingly lower activity but a higher close rate or a higher average sale. As long as the sales targets are being exceeded, I'm OK with this....if not, sales management could turn into a painful process for all involved.

The following worksheet is an example of what I've used to help sales people determine their needed activity. GREEN highlights are calculation fields.

Monthly 2006
Sales Goal $100,000 $1,200,000
Average Sale $5,000 $5,000
Sales Needed 20 240
Estimated Close Rate 50% 50%
Number of NEW Deals Added to Pipeline 40 480
Value of NEW Deals Added to Pipeline $200,000 $2,400,000
Contact Hit Rate (% interested of those contacted) 20% 20%
Needed Monthly Contacts 200 2400
Dials to Contacts 20% 20%
Needed Dials 1000 12000
Number of NEW Deals Added To Pipeline Daily 2
Value of NEW Deals Added to Pipeline Daily $10,000
Approx. Contacts per day 10
Approx. Dials per day 50

So, by beginning with the end in mind and working backwards through the steps necessary to achieving certain sales goals, your inside sales team will have a roadmap for greater success. And that's a win-win for everyone involved, especially your organization.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Recent Article in Workforce Management Magazine

I had the pleasure of discussing the state of the economy and the tools we use in today's recruiting market with a reporter from Workforce Management Magazine. Check out the article here.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Precision Advertising Fails To Pay Their Bill

Precision Advertising, a firm run by Kevin Schmidt in Shreveport, LA called on Cube Management a few months ago to find them a number of top sales reps for their newly launched advertising service. After sourcing, screening and presenting several candidates, Kevin made an offer to one of our candidates. Now Kevin refuses to pay us for our services rendered. He is trying to say they we did not do a good job of finding him candidates or screening them to his liking. I say BS! Kevin just does not want to pay us the money he owes us and is looking for a way to get out of his contract.

In the nine (9) years that I have been providing sales and marketing services to the business community, I have never had a client refuse to pay me. Kevin talked a mean game. Told me he wanted to hire a 100 reps, wanted a discount too! Well since he obviously can not afford to pay for one let alone 100, I suggest that all you other recruiters out there - beware. Kevin Schmidt is not to be trusted!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Good Recruiters Are Worth Their Weight In Gold

Often times we come across companies that are looking to hire sales people but don't recognize the value of an outside sales recruiting service. The reason is because they are experienced hiring managers. Certainly most sales managers, one of their key capabilities is to hire good people, but getting to those people is half the battle. This is where a good recruiting company can help. A good recruiter knows how to go in and access the best talent, where ever it may be, including companies which you could not approach directly and can make the difference between hiring B and C players for your company, those who are out looking for a job, and hiring A players, those who typically aren't out looking for a job but are always willing to listen to an opportunity.

The results from hiring a B or C player and hiring an A player can be truly astounding. Particularly in the sales arena, a top producer is one who can produce several times the amount of sales as a B or C player. Getting to those people is no easy task and that's where seeking outside assistance can make a real difference. What's the bottom line impact? Sometimes it can be worth several million dollars of incremental sales for your company per year. Can you afford not to hire the best in your business? If you really are trying to grow and take your company to the next level, it's important that you don't settle for less than the best. This is why a good recruiter is so critical to bringing you the gold you need in order to grow your company.

Friday, April 24, 2009

The Dark Side of Management: People are Selfish and Greedy

Remember why you came to work today? Was it because you wanted to get started on making your company the best and most highly respected in the nation or the world? Probably not. You came to work today in order to make money to pay the bills and hope that there is a little left over to spend on yourself. You don't really care if the company makes a profit, you really only care if YOU make a profit. Will I have more income than expenses this week? Will I be able to take a vacation? Can I afford to go out to diner tonight rather than having to eat at home in front of the television?

Don't be ashamed. Selfishness and greed are two very powerful emotions that if harnessed properly can be both self-serving and profitable for any business. The secret is to find a way to create an environment where these emotions can and will serve two masters. How can that be done?

Aligning personal goals with professional objectives is the win-win of management today. Every employee in the company must clearly understand that the way they make more money is for the company to make more money. They must understand how going the extra mile will result in their personal gain. How will they be able to improve their lives by improving the service or products the company has to offer?

Compensation and incentive plans that are too complicated or take too long from the time of service to reward are not the answer. False hope and empty promises will do more to ruin morale than any other aspect of management. Reward programs must be easy to understand, directly tied to measurable outcomes, and frequent in nature. When you start to see small increases in your pay over a short period of time it will motivate you and others to keep up the good work.

Hire The Best, Weed Out The Rest: Recruiting Top Sales Producers

Hiring top sales people is the key to accelerating your company’s sales. Sounds like a no-brainer, right? Yet even if you agree with this, we all know from experience that finding and attracting high performance sales talent is anything but easy. Getting this right is a combination of both art and science, and requires a real commitment to excellence.

A recent survey showed that 53% of all sales recruiting efforts lead to mis-hires. That means if your company does an average job in sales recruiting, you have a 50/50 chance of making a mistake. And nowhere is it more costly than in sales. Given the learning curve and sales cycle for a new recruit, it can easily take 6-12 months before you realize the person you hired is incapable or unwilling to sell for your company. The costs can be staggering: tens of thousands in expense, hundreds of thousands (or millions) in lost sales and margin, and as much as 1-2 years of lost momentum and market share to your competition. With so much at stake for your company, are you willing to accept these outcomes?

Fear not. It is possible to avoid these costs, as long as you recognize the potential pitfalls and work proactively to eliminate them. Here’s a set of rules that will help you in your quest for making top hires:

1. Know Your Requirements. Start by developing a clear job description that fully identifies the key skills and experience you’re looking for, the selling environment, the ideal candidate profile (hunter vs. farmer), sales objectives and key performance metrics for the position. This sounds easy, but if you skip this step, chances are you’ll end up with nothing to match candidates against – and that’s the start of a recipe for disaster.

2. Understand The Skills & Traits of Top Performers. Many managers hire sales reps that epitomize the stereotype of a top sales rep. They mistakenly believe that if a person can sell himself or herself through the interviewing process, that person must be good at sales. Dead wrong. Look for these key traits and skills:

Traits - Skills
Motivation To Succeed - Prospecting
Ego-Drive - Probing
Empathy - Listening
Service Orientation - Persuasion
Conscientiousness - Negotiation
Ego Resilience - Technical
Detail Orientation - Organization

3. Know Where To Look. Let’s face it. In this economy, placing an ad in the local paper or on job boards is not going to attract top sales talent. Why? Because the best sales people are already working, and probably not looking! If you want to find the best, you need to develop a highly targeted strategy. Start by finding out the names of top reps who are working for your competitors, and make a direct approach. Continue by contacting everyone you know in your industry network (including your customers), to get referrals, since most great hires come through people you already know. If these efforts don’t yield results, target top reps in companies that are selling complementary products to your customer base. Need help? A good headhunter knows exactly how to find the best people.

4. Sell the Job. If you want to attract the best, make sure to spend time developing and promoting your own company’s story. What’s your vision for the company? What’s your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)? What’s your strategy to win in your market? What sort of growth and advancement opportunities do you offer to top performers? What makes your company a great place to work? Are you offering a job, or a real opportunity?

5. Develop a Rigorous Process, Then Stick To It. This is where companies often fall down: by going too fast and skipping critical steps. Hiring great sales people requires lots of time, commitment and energy. To do the job right, make sure your hiring process includes the following elements:

  • Build the right interview team, train the team on interviewing skills, assign different topics to team members, and make sure to debrief on each candidate.
  • Use behavioral interviewing techniques, rather than asking closed-ended questions.
  • Collect detailed sales achievement history from all candidates, by asking for a breakdown of their annual quota and actual results for the previous 3-5 years. Top producers have this information – under performers don’t.
  • Assign homework at each stage of the process, and watch closely to see how well candidates follow-up -- and follow instructions.
  • Validate your candidates sales skills, using an online sales profiling tool (we like the Express Screens at
  • Discard personal references, and insist on speaking to each candidate’s past 3-4 immediate sales supervisors. If they’re not listed, insist on talking to them anyway.
Hiring the right sales people is not easy, but no task is more important if you’re committed to achieving your company’s growth objectives.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Focus Your Search

If you are a top sales and marketing producer at the executive, mid-level, or frontline, and looking for a new job, make sure that you have a laser focus in your resume on what your career objective is. Spell out exactly the ideal job you are looking for at the front of your resume in succinct terms so that anybody who sees your resume understands exactly what you're looking for, why you would fit the opportunity that they are screening for, and how they can help you find what you want.

A good career objective includes the following elements: position, title, size of company, industry focus, duties and responsibilities, and overall cultural fit. By spelling out these elements, in clear, succinct, short sentences, you'll be doing yourself a great favor. Most recruiters and people who are looking for talent are really trying to figure out who lines up exactly with their requirements. They are trying to do a quick screen and a job match. By giving people a precise idea of what your career objective is and how it lines up with your experience; you will be setting yourself apart from most resumes which define their skills in very broad terms. Likewise, by doing this you'll also be able to get much better help from your colleagues and associates when you are out networking, looking for that next job and looking for referrals to that next job.

Why? Because people who you meet with to network are usually happy to help, but they need to know exactly what you are looking for, and you need to paint a picture for them in their mind that gives them a precise idea of the ideal situation that you'd be looking for in a new company. If you do that, and when you do that right, well connected people who are trying to help you will immediately know who to send you on to who might be able to help you land the job of your dream. Make sure your career objective is very well focused on your resume and that it covers the essential elements of your ideal job scenario. If you do this well, what are the chances that you'll get that ideal job? Well, a lot better than if you don't do this right.

Are Good Sales Professionals Available in this Economy?

Everyone keeps asking me "how is the economy effecting our business?" Well here it is. What we are seeing in our recruiting practice is that while there are a lot of people out of work, good sales professionals are not among them. While the economy is hurting, top sales professionals are still finding ways to sell their products and business is still getting done in many sectors of the economy. The majority of the sales professionals on the street today are merely the "farmers" that companies find hiding in their fields waiting for the phone to ring hoping someone wants to buy something

Companies are not letting their top performers go and why should they, they are the life blood of their business. In hard economic times, hiring top sales people is probably harder than in good economic times. We currently have over fifty sales positions open on our job board ( and the majority of the applicants that are applying for these openings are not qualified for the position but merely hoping to get their resumes viewed by a recruiter. These candidates apply for every position we have clogging our system, adding to the amount of time we have to spend weeding them out and explaining to them why they are not qualified for the positions they have applied to.

I understand their desperation, I really do, but what most unemployed sales professionals need to understand is that when we are in an "employer driven market" like we are today, employers can afford to be picky about the candidates they are willing to interview. No longer are they willing to except a "good sales person" from another industry. Why not? They are not wiling to interview or consider candidates that just a few short months ago they would have been happy to see because they do not want to train new sales recuits and they honestly believe that they can get someone out of their industry. They would rather wait for one of their competitors to go out of buisiness or do a second round of job cuts (at least they can get tier 2 players) or wait for that promising start-up to loose its funding knowing that these sales professionals will be willing to make the jump and usually for less money.

So what does this mean for the few good sales professionals out there looking for a new career opportunity? It means you are going to have to be willing to put up with longer interviewing processes (most companies are taking from 2 - 3 months to make hiring decisions), providing more documented evidence of success, have a book of business you can call on immediately (get close to your former clients now even if its just to say hi and update contact information), and be looking for positions in your existing industry (this is no time to be thinking about changing your industry no matter how bad it might be!).

And what does this mean for employers? While it might be an "employers market" today don't be fooled into believing that good candidates are going to be beating a path to your door. Finding and retaining top sales talent is now and will always be a difficult task. You should be examining your compensation plans, in a down market sales will be lower and commissions will be less. This may be cause enough for your top talent to start looking for other opportunities.

If you are looking to fill several critical positions - don't wait hoping to hire that "all-star" from the competitor, they may never come. If your sales are dropping off, the only way to grow in a down economy is to have more "feet on the street" asking for orders. The longer you wait, the longer your road to recovery. I'm a firm believer that "top grading" a sales staff is best done in good times not lean ones. So start looking for top sales talent, proven winners in any industry, the time to teach product knowledge in far less than it is to teach sales knowledge.