In Sales, it's about "Energy"-3 Tactics to Hiring the Best

Posted by Jack Derby, Head Coach on Fri, Oct 06, 2017


For such an important and critical word, "Energy" is defined in the dictionary as a noun with the unemotional description of "the capacity for vigorous activity".

  • One, I'm not sure that I really understand what that means. 
  • Two, I'm absolutely positive that I won't remember that definition, and...
  • Three, the technical definition does not match the attributes I need.

Pats and Brady tough loss.jpgThink about the actual word "Energy" in the context of when it's being used,and you will hear comments like...

- "She has tremendous energy as a salesperson"
- "His sales planning is about his unrelenting energy." 
-  "As our best salesperson, he
just never gives up" 

...or in sports words like...

- "Tom Brady's unparalleled energy is the game"

Although even Tom's energy could not overcome a weak defense this past Sunday-a good example of individual players, but not the work of a healthy team. The very good news is that they have "the energy" and, "the right stuff", and there's still a very long season ahead ! 

In fact, "ENERGY", its cousin, "ENERGETIC", and "THE RIGHT STUFF" are those words that we often just casually throw around regarding the hiring of our salespeople.  Then...we have difficulty in really understanding what those words mean, how they are interpreted and how one person's "energy" is different than another's.   As a result, our turnover rates for salespeople are much higher than we can afford them to be given that, in reality, we're playing for the same high stakes, with what should be the same level of professional athletes, in the same level of highly competitive markets as in professional football.  

We hire on skills, and we fire on attributes !

The #1 or #2 Issue on the minds of the majority of sales managers and CEOs we know is their concerns about recruiting, hiring, and then successfully onboarding new salespeople!

When we talk to hundreds of our CEO and sales managers in our companies, if hiring is not the #1 Issue, it's #2, and then the #1 issue flips to be... "I need to get more productivity from my existing salespeople."

Sure, everyone right now, just coming out of Q3, is focused to end the year on Plan, but right behind that exacting requirement are the specifics of...

  • ...working on the 2018 Business Plan along with the respective Sales & Marketing plans
  • ...getting these plans and their budgets approved by various bosses and the Board
  • ...figuring out how and when to recruit, hire, and onboard new salespeople for 2018

Building the 2018 Bench !

This requirement of "Building the 2018 Bench" by hiring the right people for the right sales job at the right time is critical for a sports coach of any kind, and for us as Player/Coaches.  The difference is that in professional sports, there's a fair amount of financial resources, professional scouts and formalized testing that goes along with that process.  Not so, in our small and middle-market size businesses where that responsibility rests solely on the shoulders of the front line sales managers and some sub-segment of allocated time from the Human Resources department.   And, yet, the responsibility and the need to deal with this requirement both effectively and efficiently remains the same!  We need to hire the best...the first time!

4 BETTER Tactics to hiring right the 1st time !

1.  Profile the Job

Of course, first you need a Job Description.  But like a resume, it's important, and, yes, you need one, but it's not as critical as is the Job Profile.  Job Descriptions are external-facing; Job Profiles are internal.  Define the Sales Profile into three categories:

  • Skills:  These represent those selling skills and abilities that the person has been actually trained in.

    "Communication" would be an example of a very broad sales skill, but when it's broken down into Writing Skills, Listening Skills, Social Media Skills and Presenting Skills, each of these become highly measurable on (for example) a 1-5 scale. 
    Similarly for a salesperson, I personally would want to measure the candidate's skills in technology, in sales processes and tools, in negotiating and in six to ten other critical skills where they have received formal technical training.
  • Experience:  This component of the hiring process needs to be stated not in words like... "between 3 and 5 years", but in specifics such as... ">than x years">.  Be very specific in this component.  "I need more than x years as a [the exact job] in these markets".  
    You also need to add to this category, the specifics technical experience, degrees or certifications that you must have...or would like to have.
  • Attributes:  Back-in-the-Day, we used our "gut feel" about "the right stuff" and words like "energy" to make our hiring decisions.  We came out of those first interviews saying words like "he has a strong work ethic", or "she's very energized" In fact, we really had no real idea, since after all, that judgment was just based on "gut feel". 

    Today, from our own work with hundreds and hundreds of companies and thousands of salespeople, we know that "gut feel" will be 50% accurate at best.  Much too high a risk to take for any sales team to take and certainly no professional sports team would take the risk of a flip of the coin.

2.  Test everyone for Skills...and ask about certifications

  • After you've made a decision to progress with more interviews, make that second interview a presentation by the candidate to you and your interview team.  Provide the candidate with an instruction sheet as to the topic, the length of time (45-60 minutes) you want them to present, and the media (either PPT or whiteboard) you want them to use, and then start the interview process with their presentation. 

    The topics can be a case study that you have given them, or a presentation from them of their current sales process and the sales and marketing tools that they use along with their accompanying YTD metrics.  What you want to do is to have them provide is anything that will demonstrate their ability to present in a process where you and your interview team are going to be asking lots of real time questions...just the same way they will be presenting to your customers if they come on board. 

    During that presentation, make sure that you ask about their certifications in their CRM platform, and any other sales and marketing skills where they have earned certifications. 

    As a result of that presentation, you will be able to rank their sales skills or their sales management skills on a 1-5 scale very easily.

3.  Assess everyone for Attributes

  • Do not hire any salesperson or any sales manager at any level without having them complete an attribute assessment!  Simple statement, simple rule.  This goes back to the fact, that we too often hire on skills and fire on attributes.   
  • You can very directly assess Attributes by choosing from Predictive Index or Caliper, the two best, most efficient and most cost effective assessment tools for salespeople and management
  • Also then use Skills Survey, the market leader, for references and assessment. 

Want to learn more, click Derby Management Sales Toolbox, which is part of our Sales Productivity Series on our site, and then give us a call to go through any questions, you might have. Scroll down to Section 4 and then click on the second video presentation to get to the Skills-Experience-Attributes video

Just Finished our Sales Management Boot Camp

Sales Management Boot Camp 2017-3.png.jpgThis past Sunday through Tuesday, we had the extraordinary experience of working with 27 sales managers, from a wide variety of companies, at our Sales Management Boot Camp at MIT's fascinating Endicott House.  This topic of "Recruiting, Hiring and Onboarding" was one of the major components of what was a very exciting experience for us and for our fellow Boot Campers. 

That's Jon Dick, VP of Marketing for Hubspot, up presenting.
Jon was then followed by Greg Flynn, CEO of Brainshark
Both very dynamic speaking about their technology stacks!!!

Have a great weekend !
Good Selling, Good Marketing...and Good Planning !
The time is now, not tomorrow !

 Jack Derby

Head Coach  

 Derby Management...for 25 years
 -Sales & Marketing Productivity experts
 -Business & Strategy Planning specialists
 -Senior Management Coaches for CEOs & VPs

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Boston, MA 02117
Jack's Cell: 617-504-4222







Tags: Sales Management Best Practices, Sales Hiring Perfectly, Sales Hiring & Onboarding