Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The "You Are Fired" Syndrome: Are We Really Hiring Based on Skills and Knowledge?

Hiring the Right One?
I don’t know if this thing really started with Donald Trump and his “You’re fired” reality show, or it simply happened that the show ignited in me this feeling that we are developing, whether we realize it or not, an inadequate way to assess professional competencies of the people showing up for job interviews.

But ever since then we’ve been able to witness how this kind of “characters”, whether real or fictional, enjoy significant visibility in the media, and they even get to be very popular through the shows they broadcast, where people, whom only wish to have better opportunities in their lives, are put through ridiculous and not-dignifying situations.

This last week I really had enough with it when I read in a local newspaper about Clio Almansa and her case, in the article entitled "Qué tan lejos estás dispuesto a ir para conseguir el trabajo?" ( I'll leave the link below. Sorry it’s in Spanish. No translation available yet).

Clio is a 22 years old young woman who underwent a stupid and humiliating test during a recruitment process, which costed her a back injury, and a temporary leave right after being hired for the job.

Thanks God, and the Internet, her case has achieved a strong visibility and hopefully would become an important call to deep reflection for entrepreneurs like you and me. At least I would like it to.

What is this monster we're creating?

What name can we give to that arrogant, cocky, almost pervert character who doesn’t have any kind of limits when simply releases all things that come to his mind  on a person who is simply looking for an opportunity to get a decent job and make a living?

Is it really necessary to take the person to the limit of their dignity to see what they can do or how will react?

It is one thing to conduct a recruiting interview in a way that allows you to discover the talents and not so visible competencies of a person, asking the right questions, performing different evaluation and corresponding tests, and it’s another thing - and an entirely different one - to turn the selection process itself in a “match to death” struggle between the candidates, based on your understanding that the person who needs the job the most, will be the one most willing to stoop to get it.

Behind you there are fifty others like you willing to do anything to get this job.

That way you’ll never find any valuable thing!

Quite the opposite, it appears to me it all has simply become an unnecessary and not-dignifying power demonstration. It's just like telling the candidate: "I have the job opening, you are the one in the need of it, so..."

We all know the current economic situation forces people to accept working conditions that, in other circumstances, they wouldn’t even dare to consider. I have it clear because I’ve been through it myself.

However, I think it's a good time (or should be) to banish certain flawed and unproductive practices we have been infected with.

An employee with poor working conditions, will never reach its maximum potential nor talk positively about your company.

Watching a TV show a few days ago, I heard about the case of a disabled person who has a full- time job, from 10 pm to 6 am, with a part-time contract and being paid only € 400 per month. Unbelievable, isn’t it?!

Well, I was as surprised as you might be now: handicapped, full shift, at night, not collecting overtime, 400 euros per month (and not to even talk about the legality of her 8 hours per day, part time contract)

Where are we going?

What is there then for our kids, and for their kids?

And this is a point about which I invite you to ponder: How do you feel about raising your kids, struggling so much and making every effort to give them the best education possible, so that tomorrow they go through situations like those experienced by Clio? Does it make you feel good?

To suddenly realize you’re sending your kids to college so they can be chosen for jobs, not for how valuable they are as professionals, but instead for how far they willing to go to satisfy the misery of their recruiters and be hired for the job?

I don’t feel any good about it, to put it simple.

Professional competencies should be measured by the person’s ability to efficiently do the job, not by how hard they need it.

And I want this to be my contribution to a subject that, day after day, is affecting more and more people, some of them closer to me than other. From this little space on the world wide web, I sincerely invite you to think a little bit about this: Are you really hiring the best candidates for the job? Or are you being carried away by these grotesque characters that appear in the media?

Below you will find the link to watch the video "The Candidate”, a program launched by Heineken as part of their recruitment process, which shows you one way to measure the reaction of candidates when confronted with unexpected situations. PLEASE NOTE: Those are unexpected situations, not humiliating as the one lived by Clio Almansa and many other people.

Heineken - "The Candidate"

Articles I recommend you to read:
Qué tan lejos estás dispuesto a ir para conseguir el trabajo? (Sorry, no translation available)

Related posts in this blog :
Working for Free: When , why and for how long?
The Hammerblow is Free: The Real Value of Knowledge.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

How to Effectively Supervise Your Sales Team

Supervising sales people?
In last week's post I mentioned that in order to ensure your sales team reaches its best performance you had to do, in simple talking, two things: set realistic and achievable goals, and supervise your sales people effectively.

And supervising a sales team can pose significant challenges for you if you’re not properly trained, starting with the fact that many entrepreneurs (God forbid you’re among them) think that sales people, just because they tend to always be on a positive mood, be proactive, always moving forward and completely aware of what their next challenge might be, do not need supervision or, if they do, it’s just a little bit.

Maybe it would be the easiest thing for you: Having a sales team that generates awesome results without your intervention. And it is for sure the wish of many people, and I would even dare to think there are many whom have hired sales people hoping things would work this way.

All sales teams, whether big or small, should be supervised on an effective and proactive way.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t happen like that: Your sales department, like any other department in the company, is composed of people who perform a job and must meet certain, specific goals, and there must always be someone to make sure those goals are achieved, and that person most likely is yourself, or if your company has already reached a certain size, it will be your sales supervisor.

And even if you have a sales supervisor, you will be responsible for its own performance. It sounds funny, doesn’t it?

Why should you supervise your sales team?

There are three main reasons why it is your responsibility to effectively supervise the performance of your sales department, and the most important one, from my personal point of view as always, has nothing to do with the numbers:

  1. Members of your sales team are your company’s image. They are the face your customers see while doing business with your company. That’s why you must ensure the image they convey is the one you want.
  2. Your salespeople main task is to bring in money for your company, develop new business opportunities, and attract potential clients. If you don’t monitor how they are performing, you’ll never know if they could sell more, or if there is a problem you must give solution to for them to sell more. And if your sales team doesn’t make the numbers, the future of your company is at risk. Simple.
  3. It is an investment your company is doing and as such, like any other investment, must be profitable. As a rule of thumb (may vary by industry) sales manager tend to recommend that every player in your sales team should bring in at least 10 times the money the company is paying them. Although the numbers can be different, it’s a good rule to follow.

If you already have clear in your mind that you should get actively involved in the supervision of your sales team, then the most probable question in your mind is “how is that done”?

How can I monitor my sales people and do it effectively?

Before becoming an effective supervisor of your sales team, you have to know what you're supposed to be monitoring. And members of your sales team have basically two tasks they have to perform: to bring in money and generate new business opportunities for your company.

Those are the two things you have to monitor: Actual sales, and the incorporation of qualified customers to your business database. If one of these fails, you have a problem to solve.

You can then set with your sales team one weekly meeting (or two) in which you revise the results of the previous week (or the previous period for that matter), evaluate which of the proposals you have sent are closer to being decided upon and establish specific goals for the following period of time.

Once you have set clear and achievable goals, focus then your efforts on the two main tasks mentioned above: Closing sales and developing more business opportunities for your company, day after day, week after week.

Depending on the size of your sales team, a weekly meeting should be enough.

In some cases, you can concentrate more in one than the other, according to your product’s sales cycle being longer or shorter: If the cycle is too long, your team will not have the opportunity to close business frequently therefore your supervision should focus on generating new opportunities rather than the numbers themselves. If the sales cycle is short, then it goes the opposite way

In any case, and so I don’t give you too much of a runaround and help you see it clearly, if you concentrate the focus of your supervision on having your sales team carry out these two tasks efficiently (selling more and generating new business opportunities), follow up with them on a regular basis as they move along and positively on achieving the proposed goals, you'll be doing your job as a supervisor effectively, you’ll be helping your sales team to be more effective too and they will end up bringing in more money, as properly supervised sales teams usually do.

And bringing in more money for your business, will make everyone happier, wouldn’t it?

Photo credit: kbuntu / 123RF Stock Photo

Related post in this blog:
How can you motivate your sales team so they can reach their best performance?
Can a sales guy ever say he’s got nothing to do?

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

How can you motivate your sales team so they can reach their best performance?

How to motivate your sales team.
One of the comments I received from last week’s post, entitled "What training should your salespeople in your business receive" made reference to lack of motivation as one of the factors that can reduce the effectiveness of your salespeople or team, and it came from my dear friend Miguel Martin.

 And certainly motivation is a vital element for any sales person since the sale itself is fundamentally an emotions-driven act: to reach the most effective performance the salesperson must be in an optimal emotional situation.

It doesn’t have to be excellent, or some sort of "life-is-very-beautiful" thing. No.

It just has to be a well balanced emotional state.

To be effective, a salesperson must be on an appropriate emotional situation. 

Just think for a moment how would it be if, while your sales representative is giving a presentation of your products to a group of potential buyers, those buyers can clearly see in his face signs showing that this month he’s not meeting its sales goals therefore he’s not going to have money enough to bring food to his family’s table?

Or what about your sales representative going through a breakup and instead of talking with customers about your products he prefers to discharge on them the frustration he feels because of all the terrible things his partner has done and that were the reason why they break up on the first place?

For a sales person to be effective, the first requirement is to be properly supervised. 

And supervising doesn’t mean you have to become the “eye on the sky” looking over your representatives’ shoulders 24 hours a day. No. Not at all.

Supervising or monitoring is a task you must perform continuously, every single day, either face to face, by phone or email, the way you feel more comfortable with but has to be done regularly. Only this way you will be able to detect when "emotional levels" of your sales team drop below the minimum level required to do the job right, and it’s then your responsibility to take the necessary measures to increase their motivation. 

You supervise simply to detect situations that require your intervention to improve performance and results.

Please be aware: Your job is to to monitor, supervise and detect situations that require your intervention to improve performance and keep the spirits up, not to become an annoying voice that interrupts your team’s work twenty times per day.

The second thing you need is to set realistic and achievable goals.

How did you establish the goals you expect from your sales team? Because you did have an inspiration coming from above? Or because you just happened to think that was the number you could reach during that particular period of time? There's nothing funnier than sitting down with a business owner and ask him how much money he wants to sell over the next year or within the next six months.

The expressions on their faces say everything: They have not even the slightest idea, or the idea they have is simply the manifestation of their own illusions, hopes and, more probably, their own needs. On top of everything a sales target must be realistic.

What makes you think you can sell that kind of money? Which are the reasons behind your sales goals? How does it fit within the current market situation? How much money did you sale last year within the same period of time? How much money are you planning to invest in advertising to boost sales during such time? What is your competition doing and how are you planning to deal with it?

An unrealistic sales goal just leads to your team’s own frustration and, consequently, a decrease on its performance. 

That's why a sales goal is not a number that you simply make up. There is a whole reasoning process behind it. Do you remember in a recent post we talked about your salespeople being just “the tip of the iceberg” in your business? Well, I hope you can now see it more clearly.

There are many factors directly related with the company’s performance itself that can significantly affect the performance of your salespeople. That’s why it is so important to set realistic and achievable sales goals.

And generally, and from my own experience, when goals are realistic they are perfectly achievable.

Don’t try to sell to your own sales people. 

Your sales team does not need you telling them your company is the most wonderful wonder in the market, or that your products are the most desired piece of engineering for each of your customers, or your prices are the most competitive ones on the whole world. All companies say the same thing.

You must provide an honest sales training to each people on your sales team. Instead of the “wonderful company” speech, your salespeople need to be prepared with the truth and nothing but the truth to do the job. It's like being trained for a battle: If you don’t speak with the truth to your sales people, as clear as you can make it, honestly evaluating the size and strength of the enemy, and how they will be able to deal with it and win, you’re simply preparing them to be defeated.

Can you imagine a boxer going into a fight thinking that the best shot of his opponent is the straight right, when in fact it is the left hook? What a huge surprise his ribs are going to receive when feeling the first few bombs!

It goes the same way for members of your sales team: They all must be adequately prepared to deal, effectively and in a positive way, with all the challenges they are going to be facing along the road.

There are not bad sales representatives but bad bosses instead. 

And this is a truth that has always been my north as sales manager: I have always taken my salespeople and their performance as my direct responsibility. If they don’t reach their best performance, there must be something I’m not doing right.

That your sales team’s number are dropping? It’s your responsibility to realize what can be the cause and apply the corresponding correction. That one of the guys in your sales team is not having it all with him? If it has gone this far, how come you haven’t noticed it before? And why you haven’t taken the required corrective measures? And if it was already bad from the beginning, why did you hire him?

To put it all on just a few words:

  • If you clearly understand your jobs is to properly supervised your sales team, 
  • If you clearly set the goals your sales team must meet and these goals are realistic and achievable, 
  • And if you have in mind that the performance of your salespeople is your responsibility, and not theirs... 

Then you will be able to properly motivate members of your sales team, will help them be really effective and will have no problem on achieving their best results.

Related post in this blog:
What training should salespeople on your company receive? 
Corporate reputation and sales representative’s responsibility.