Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Sales Manager-Are you building your A team?

Are you a sales manager and never seem to find and keep the A players? Are you being sold during the sales interview? That’s what good sales people are supposed to do; sell you on them.

As a sales manager your role is to find, keep and help your people sell. First you do a preliminary interview to establish whether the prospective rep has the attributes that you are looking for. These questions are generally about their strengths and weaknesses, functions and achievements. You now must determine if past successes will be a predictor of future successes at your company.

A sales manager must ask behavioural type questions to learn how a candidate handled certain situations. You might ask “give me an example of how you won a deal from the competition and the steps you took to succeed”. These answers should give you a lot of information about how the sales rep prospects, sales cycle, how they position their company, themselves and buying criteria of their clients.

If, as a sales manager, you are pressed for a question, ask a sales rep why he/she chose the career path that they chose or why they chose to study what they studied in school. Does that sales rep plan or fall into situations?

You also want to know a lot about their work habits. Are they morning people, do they punch the clock at 5 pm, do they return their phone calls in a timely fashion or at all?

You need to match the A player with the other A players on your team without creating a team that looks and sounds just like its manager. You should look for diversity of ideas and people but people that share your ethics and desire to win.

Happy selling

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

How to handle a telephone interview

I have noticed an increasing trend with companies and that is the phone interview. The phone interview is normally done with the human resources manager to pre select those sales candidates who will meet face to face with the hiring manager.

These interviews are not to be taken lightly. I have a customer and if human resources says NO, the Sales manager will not meet the candidate. Some of these human resources managers and sales managers have developed a symbiotic relationship and HR knows who’s going to work and who is not.

The first things I advise my sales candidate is if possible do not do the call on your cell phone. They are not 100% reliable yet.

Dress professionally as if you are in a face to face interview “clothes don’t make the man” but it can influence your behaviour and tone. Try standing up-it makes you feel differently than when sitting.

If you are doing the interview from home, get someone to watch the kids.

If you are doing it from work (this does happen) do it behind closed doors.

Have your resume on hand. This will help you remember dates and details. You should prepare for this interview and take it as seriously as a face to face.

If the prospective sales position involves a lot of phone time expect they are evaluating you on how you express yourself on the phone. Does the sales candidate mumble do they project confidence; is the vocabulary professional and clear?

It will be difficult to get “buying signals” from the person interviewing you so you will need to focus on what is being said. Prepare some well thought out questions to get them to speak freely.

Your goal with a telephone interview is to get to the next step; the face to face interview.

Happy selling

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Having problems staying motivated in November?

If you are like most people, staying motivated in November is a challenge. This is because we have less light, days are shorter and we are distracted by sugar plum fairies and the upcoming holiday season.

So much of sales and sales recruiting happens between your 2 ears so you must put everything on your side and find what motivates you. Some mornings, I put on my happy song in the car and sing as loud as I can.

It's really important to get outside while it's light outside. Take a walk at lunch or even before work to get some much needed vitamin D. As sales people most of us have the liberty to plan our schedules ourselves so why not do a work out at lunch? Exercise raises those much needed endorphins that produce that feeling of happy.

I started writing weekly goals and checking back on a daily basis to gauge whether I will accomplish them by weeks end. Keep your goals in mind-think of what you want to accomplish and when.

Your attitude is one of the biggest things about staying motivated and only you can change that. Get enough rest. When I'm sleep deprived, I have a tendency to be more sensitive, irritable and less positive. Hang out with positive people. Misery likes company so the opposite should be true.

Let it go.There are some situations where we have to just let it go and not take a situation or customer to heart. Although we want to win them all, we can't. Move on to someone who wants to do business with you.

And when in doubt "fake it till you make it". Put on a fake smile until it becomes real.

Happy selling

Friday, November 13, 2009

Are you a true sales hunter?

One of the most sought after positions in sales is the sales hunter. This is the person who will open and close sales day in and day out irrespective of the length of the sales cycle. This person is not afraid of rejection, thrives on making new deals, loves the hunt and is not deterred by bad news.

Here are some characteristics needed to be successful as a hunter:

1. A strong desire to win- this goes hand in hand with competitiveness.

2. An ability to say “next”- this means that you don’t wallow in the losses but you can analyze them, learn from them and move on.

3. A positive attitude- I have yet to meet a great hunter who is not positive. Through my 14 years managing sales people and now as a sales recruiter; this is one underlying theme with good hunters; no matter what they are naturally positive people.

4. Energetic- hunters have energy. They are up for the task leave people scratching their head saying “where does it all come from?”

5. Goal oriented- Many hunters are goal oriented and you will hear it when they speak about where they want to be when their x age or how much money they want to make this year.

6. A desire to be better- good hunters read books, attend courses and ask a lot of questions of other top performers.

7. Motivated- whether they are motivated by outside influences or self-motivated; the fact remains that they are motivated.

8. Knowledge of their numbers- they generally know how they have performed, know what it takes to repeat it and the different steps to get there.

9. Absence of fear- I have not seen many hunters who are fearful of failing. In fact what I have seen is that they do what it takes to succeed.

10. No blaming or excuses- great hunters don’t blame others and don’t offer excuses.

Some of these behaviors can be learned and others are innate. One thing is for sure is that you put more on your side by having most if not all of these traits.

Happy selling

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Top 10 sales books

Earlier this year I did a rather non-scientific poll on Linkedin and asked sales people and sales managers which 3 sales books made an impact on them and that they would recommend to others. Here is a list of books that came up time and time again:

1. Green Eggs and Ham- Dr Seuss (believe it or not). I went back and reread the book now understand why it’s a top sales book.

2. The Bible- inspired by God,need I say more. This book was on many people’s list and I definitely understand why.

3. SPIN spelling by Neil Rackham- a classic

4. Any book by Jefferey Gitomer- he’s written such books as “the sales bible” and “the little red book of selling” as well as many others

5. Selling to Vito by Anthony Parinello-this is about selling to C levels. I enjoyed this one.

6. Power based selling by Jim Holden- also a classic.

7. Don’t fire them, fire them up by Frank Pacetta-this is a great motivating book about taking a last place team and bringing them to 1st place.

8. Success for dummies by Zig Ziglar- in fact many books by Zig were mentioned by many people

9. The 25 most common sales mistakes and how to avoid them by Stephan Schiffman- many of Stephan’s books were mentioned.

10. You can’t teach a kid to ride a bike at a seminar by David Sandler- this will be my next sales book to read because the title is rather intriguing.

This is by no means a complete list but it’s a great starting place for some interesting read. As I mentioned in my last blog post, personal development includes reading and learning. Do something for yourself by reading and learning.

Happy selling

PS if you would like to suggest a book just send me a note.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Keeping your sales skills relevant over time

Times are changing quickly; we grind through our days sometimes without looking up. The next thing you know we are at the end of another fiscal year and we’ve done nothing to upgrade or polish our sales skills. We may have had a great sales year but it’s important to plan for next year.

We have all probably met someone who was a great sales person in their time but now seems washed up and obsolete. What that rep failed to do was become more relevant over time. You don’t have to wait for your employer to pay for a course or send you to training to do so.

Reading sales books, blogs and websites are a great way to learn of new trends. Just committing to reading 1 sales book per quarter is a great start. What these books tell you, most of us know but we sometimes need a reminder.

What about taking a course either online or at a local school? Some people need to brush up on their software skills. As a sales recruiter, often I can tell if a candidate’s software skills are good by the quality of their resume. Of course I know that they may have gotten the resume professionally done but if the resume is poor, it’s an indication of something.

There’s a lot of free content our there such as webinars and lectures. Sure some of them want to sell you something but they give out free information in exchange for you being on their mailing list.

There are many 1 day seminars offered by local universities that target busy working people. Some of them are half day seminars. These are also great places to network and share stories; which by the way is a great source of learning.

For the over 40 sales crowd this is probably more important for us in an effort to show potential sales managers that we are current and up to date. Some employers may have the misconception that older workers are out of date.

Many employers will pay for courses that help you to better in your current sales job. You should take time to keep up to date on issues within your industry. Customers look to their sales representatives for knowledge and count on you to educate them. If you are more knowledgeable than your competitor, this is another element that puts you ahead of your competition.

As a sales recruiter, I look for people who invest in themselves not because they are forced to but because they see the value in doing so.

Happy selling

Thursday, October 22, 2009

I've just been made an offer-how do I negotiate the terms?

This issue causes many sales candidates stress. As sales people, we should be used to negotiating with customers, our managers and our support departments. If that is the case, why are so many sales people uncomfortable negotiating a sales job offer? What I have seen is that women tend to negotiate their deals less and only the minority of men negotiate their offer. Some clients actually expect sales people to negotiate their offer and work some wiggle room into it.

It’s true that going through a sales head hunter, you know almost all of the terms and conditions going into the process. The key about negotiating the offer is that it must be a win-win where both sides get something. The first thing that you as a candidate should do is be honest with your sales recruiter. I want to know what motivates you, why are you making this move and what are the “nice to have” and what are the “must haves”. You must also take into consideration the long term effects on your career that this move will bring. Is this offer/job bringing me closer to my personal and professional goals? If you cannot answer yes, reconsider earlier in the process. Be honest with the recruiter if you are involved in other processes that are as interesting or more interesting that the impending offer.

Ensure that your prospective employer knows that you are very keen on the position. The way you present your counter offer might influence how you are perceived. You don’t want to start your new sales job with a bitter taste in your mouth or have your new boss have that bitter taste.

Don’t accept or reject the offer right away. Tell them that you need to think about or talk about it with your significant other but keep it positive.

It’s probably not a good idea to take a job for money only. That feeling of euphoria won’t last. And if you are thinking of turning down a job because of money, think about it twice. Break it down into bite size pieces; $5000 annually is actually $192 per pay before Canadian taxes have taken their share. Can you get more by negotiating more vacation time?

If you have to turn down the offer, do it with class. Remember “6 degrees of separation”. You don’t want this to come back and bite you in the behind.

Do your homework before, know what you are worth, know the non-monetary things that are important to you and most of all, match the culture of the company that you are going to with what you are looking for.

Happy selling

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Is cold calling dead?

Recently I heard that cold calling is old school and any sales person worth their weight, should be more sophisticated. There are many ways to cold call. We are all familiar with knocking on doors, presenting your business card and hoping that you get a glimpse of the decision maker. I would agree that this method might be a little outdated but in some industries this is how reps get new prospects and it still works.

When I interview sales people; the part of the sales cycle that they dislike the most is the cold calling. Every time you call a sales recruiter for a job, that’s a cold call. I was probably not expecting your call and don’t know you. If a sales candidate calls me and does a very good cold call, I’ll see him for an interview; after all my, job is to find great sales people for my clients. I have successfully placed several candidates who cold called me.

I know very few people or companies that have enough business that they do not require new prospects so cold calling is here to stay.

There are more many ways to cold call such as networking. Whether your cold call is via telephone or face to face, preparation is key. Find out some information about the company, its officers and recent activity. If you have sold to this industry before this would be a great time to name drop.

Set yourself a goal for cold calling. Remember ABC-always be closing. Your goal may be to gather information or speak to the decision maker. If you do get the decision maker remember that you have 1 chance to make a great first impression. Write and practice a great opening statement. Get your prospect interested and engaged. This does not include speaking about what your product/service does but more about benefits to your prospects. Keep in mind “what’s in it for me”.

So many sales people no longer cold call that your cold calling can perhaps be unique. So many sales people rely on emails and phone calls because it is easier than face to face cold calling. Again, you will be set apart from the pack if you are different in your approach. A face to face makes it personal and different.

Where some sales people fall down is their contact with the gatekeeper or receptionist. When you are rude to them or dismiss them as unimportant that gets back to the decision more often than you think. I definitely want to know my receptionist’s opinion of the cold caller because this will give me an indication of their emotional intelligence and quite frankly their manners.

You can’t go into cold calling thinking that you will fail; you will. You have got to go in with a positive attitude especially if you are cold calling via the phone. The client needs to feel your enthusiasm and smile. Remember that a large percentage of communication is non-verbal.

Cold calling is still an effective tool to bring in new business.

Cold calling- “reports of my demise are greatly exaggerated”

Happy selling

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

When is it an appropriate time to talk about salary?

Many candidates find it uncomfortable to speak about salary with a prospective employer. If you ask too early, it may be a turn off and ask too late, you both may be wasting each other’s time. Here’s where your sales recruiter comes into play. Part of our role is to act as go-between for the client and candidate. We always have the parameters of the offer and should know our client well enough to know the outer limits.

If you are dealing with a client blind; that is to say, without a recruiter, then the employer may ask your salary expectations during the 2nd or even the 1st meeting. Let the employer ask before you do. Your asking may come across as pushy and looking at the wrong things. It is always a good idea to find out what the market pays for your job and experience. is a site that I sometimes refer to. You can also consult government websites such as Statistics Canada. Knowledge is power. If you don’t want to box yourself in when asked your salary expectations you can answer “ my research has shown me that people with my education, experience and track record are in the range of X to Y”.

Prospective employers will almost always ask you what you made at your last job. Some people have a tendency to bump it up a bit. Resist the temptation because I have seen some employers ask for proof. Oops if you’ve lied!!

Give yourself some wriggle room or room to negotiate. Your number one job is to get the employer to love you first. This makes the salary issue easier to deal with.

If in the end the position does not offer the salary that you need, be polite and thank the interviewer for their time. You never know if there is a more senior position at that same employer. Be gracious, you never know.

Happy selling

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

When is lying on your resume allowed?

Never! Let me repeat myself if you did not get the answer-lying on your resume is never acceptable. I don’t understand that in 2009 we are still dealing with this issue. Candidates are getting advice from so called reputable people telling them that lying on their resume is acceptable.

I had a senior sales manager tell me last week that he would be leaving a job off his resume where he was fired because it was not long enough. He was given this advice from a career counselor. If your lie is ever discovered; and we know that often they are; it opens the door to doubts abut your integrity. Why not practice how to explain away the failure or misfire?

I had another candidate take 1 year off to take care of a personal situation. He was fortunate enough to have the money to do so. Don’t try and mask the fact, come clean. You don’t have to give full details but enough to satisfy the employer that you had your hands full during the year. Perhaps the employer will see your compassionate side in your explanation and could help you with your next position.

And then there are individuals who invent earned degrees. That’s just not smart because those things are so easy to check. If you attended a school but did not finish the degree do not imply that you finished because it’s just like lying.

What about lying by omission? I have seen older candidates do this. They leave out certain jobs because it would indicate their age. Some have said that they leave them out to have a shorter resume. Lying by omission is still lying.

Don’t give a perspective employer a reason to doubt your integrity. This is a career ender. Come clean and practice your truthful responses when the questions arise. Besides liars have to have great memories.

Happy selling

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Red hot summer market for sales jobs

Summer is not a time to relax your job hunt. Many employers are still around and looking for top talent. Employers are more relaxed and more available and all indications are that we are coming out of our recession.

Why not use your time to bypass some gate-keepers and talk to the hiring managers and recruiters who are around?

We have actually seen an uptake in sales job this summer so far.

Go out there and get noticed in a time when many are looking for top sales talent.

Happy selling

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Should I go sell for my competitor?

This is a dilemma that many sales people face. And as a sales recruiter, we are sometimes asked to find someone from the competition. This does happen but does not happen as often as we think. There are 2 schools of thought on this; hiring from the competition brings a sales rep who needs little or no training and hiring from the competition brings the “same old, same old”. Both employers and sales people need to consider the ethics of changing and potentially bringing over their customers. Did you sign a non-compete or non-disclosure? You would not want to end up with a law suit on your 1st day of employment.

It is not generally easy for customers to follow their sales people. What is the cost for your customer to follow you? Will they follow you and how long will that take? If they are in binding contracts, it may not be for a while or never at all.

Both the employer and sales person should consider what transferable skills does this sales person bring to the table? Have they successfully sold to my customers, even if it was not the same product? The employer should also consider what credibility that sales person brings to the table if they have successfully sold for their competition. What are your motives for jumping the ship?

As a sales person consider the following as a means of where your next gig could be:

 Where have I sold successfully (territory and customers)?
 Which products or services have I had fun selling and done well?
 Where do I feel passionate?
 What specific knowledge or skills do I possess?
 What are the needs of the market now and in the future?

Answers to these questions should give you an indication of a possible next move; other than moving to the competition.

Happy selling

Friday, May 29, 2009

Using social media to help find my next sales job

Every time you turn on the television you here about social media. What social media is essentially online content created by people. It can take the form of blogs, instant messaging, Facebook, LinkedIn etc. In addition to working with folks like me; sales recruiters, it is also important to scout out your contacts on the different websites. Increasingly companies are using social networking to tap into non-traditional job seekers. Sites such as LinkedIn can tell you which companies are looking for employees and who within your network works there or are linked to those individuals.

The key to using these kinds of tools is to use them wisely. LinkedIn allows someone to request a virtual introduction to someone via a link. It is important to properly introduce yourself and the reason for the introduction so that one does not feel that they are bothering their link.

Increasingly there are ads on Facebook. Some of these ads are actual job offers. The key here is to click on the ad down the side when you see it because navigating away from the page may mean that you may not see the ad for a long time. Many companies have their own Facebook page and you can browse to see who works there.

As a recruiter, I often use LinkedIn to find potential employees; hence the need for a complete profile. It reads like a resume. As LinkedIn is a professional site, one should try to put a professional picture which is different for Facebook.

If you’re unemployed, why not start a blog. You want visibility for yourself and a blog could be a good way to go. Try to give something back while you do your daily or weekly musings. Demonstrate that you are an expert or really good at something. Remember to keep your blog as professional as possible. Sharing bits of your personal life is ok but if you’re looking for a job keep it as professional as possible. Employers do Google potential employees. What about following the blogs of some decision makers? What can you learn from a prospective employer or client?

Remember to share your blogs and profiles with interested parties. having an audience will help your job hunting along.

Happy selling

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

What to do if you are asked illegal questions in an interview.

Today I spoke to a group of students graduating from an intensive sales program and we touched on illegal questions during a job interview but did not get a chance to elaborate.

Questions based on race, sex, age, disability, sexual orientation, marital status, birthplace and national origin are illegal questions. In my experience most interviewers ask those questions not to discriminate but to make conversation. I am still amazed how many employers do not know that these questions are illegal.
As an interested candidate these questions puts one in a pickle. There is 1 of 4 options when asked these kinds of questions:

1. You could try to divert the question and hope that the interviewer does not notice. In other words, don’t answer the question. This may not solve your problem as they may come back with the question. If you get away with it, you still need to ask yourself if the question was innocently asked or if there was something “sinister” behind it.

2. You could call the employer “on the carpet” and point out that they are asking an illegal question. This could be confrontational or you could have embarrassed the interviewer.

3. Ask the question “why do you need to know this”? Here you are trying to determine the intent behind the question. There is no delicate way to do this. If the employer wants to know if you have child care issues because you travel for work, let them know that you are aware of the job requirements and can meet them.

4. Answer the question.

These are uncomfortable situations and can be diffused with some humour. If however, there are persistent illegal questions, you need to make a decision as to whether you still want to work there. Whichever option you choose, remain professional even if you end up terminating the interview because you don’t like what you hear. Each of us has to find our comfort zone.

Happy selling

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Should I post my resume online?

Many people ask them self this question. The answer is easy if you are employed-it’s a solid NO! When you are working but in active job search it is not prudent to let your employer know that you are looking. I know that this is elementary but needs to be said because I have seen this happen. Sometimes it’s because the candidate forgot that their resume was online after they secured them self a position.

For those candidates who are new to the market such as new graduate, why not. Keep in mind that there are national, local and industry specific job boards and the people that use them may be quite different. The candidate should not forget to post at any professional associations in their industry as well.

There are some safeguards that should always be followed because your personal information will be out there for anyone with access to the different job boards to have:

• It would be prudent to omit your address but leave in email and telephone number where you can be reached. Do I need to say not to post any other personal information? I see resumes with date of birth, marital status etc. That’s nobody’s business.

• You will get many offers with no base salary, insurance sales and perhaps some scams. When you decline an offer, do it with class and thank the person for contacting you. You never know who they know.

• Ensure that you use keywords so that your resume percolates to the top. If you are a sales manager in the tooling industry, make sure that those words feature in the title of the resume or your posting.

This advice works well for those that are new to the market or unemployed. Those that are working or more senior people should consider twice before posting their resume online. Of course posting your resume to a recruiter’s website is different. This is only visible to employees of the firm and should not be sent out without an interview and your permission.

We recruiters sometimes find candidates on job boards too so there are some definite benefits to posting online. There are some job boards that allow you to post your resume online anonymously and I have seen some candidates create an email account just for job hunting.

Posting online should be just one of the ways that you look for a job and keep in mind that looking for a new job is almost a full time job.

Pet Peeves (and somewhat off topic)
• Sending your resume to several recruitment firms but not Bccing everyone. Why not personalize each one.
• Sending a resume to me while addressed to someone else

Happy selling

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Preparing for a presentation as part of your interview

Last week I spoke about panel interviews and to continue in this vein, this week my topic is preparing for a presentation as part of the interview process.

More and more companies are doing these kinds of interviews. The employer is likely looking for your selling style. They would like to know if you are the type of sales person that will rehash the product features or are you listening for needs and linking it back to what you have to offer and providing a benefit to the customer. Likely they will also be looking for your investigative skills. Most companies give the candidate time to research and the information that you gather as part of the presentation will be key.

This gives the employer a glimpse of what you will look like to a customer as well. Does the candidate perform under pressure? Is this the person that I want representing us?

These kinds of interviews are likely at the end of the interview process and although you performed well prior, this one could be a deal breaker.

It will be very important for the candidate presenting to stick to the guidelines and be mindful of the time. Ask about how much time you have and stick to it. I had 2 senior manager candidates go through this process 6 months ago and both did very well and both got the job (different jobs, same company). My client told me that what set them apart from the others was it was evident that they spent the time necessary doing the research and put their personal touch and some humour into the process. If humour is not a natural for you, don’t do it. My client and both candidates had a good sense of humour so that worked. Err on the side of caution.

This should go without saying but practice it with a trusted loved one. Have someone else read it over. I had a candidate misspell the company name and it really ticked off the Vice President during the presentation. This kind of lack of attention to detail could blow it for you.

Your energy and enthusiasm will be very important. If your audience is not with you, change pace. It is very important to be able to read your “customer” who in this case is your potential next employer.

And last but not least, prepare for Murphy’s law. Bring back up copies in case the projector fails. Leave home earlier or better yet; if you’re like me and directionally challenged; drive the route the night before.

And as I said in my last post-SMILE!

Happy selling

Friday, April 24, 2009

How to handle a panel interview.

Panel interviews have always been used to select or eliminate candidates. Sometimes candidates know beforehand but sometimes they learn of it when they arrive for an interview.

It’s always important that you, as the candidate ask beforehand, who will be at the meeting and their titles. This will help get you in the “zone”. It would be helpful to ask what kind of interview you will have. Is it a behavioural interview or are they looking for your technical expertise? Interviewing is nerve-racking enough without having a panel interview sprung upon you.

Make real eye-contact with everyone. No one is to be neglected. I had a client contact me to tell me that the candidate addressed and looked at the male in the group, who was not the highest ranking member of the team present at the interview.

As in any type of interview, it would be a good idea to ask good questions. If the interviewers are from different functional areas, try to address your questions to the different areas.

Reread the job description and try to anticipate what each person on the panel might seek from this interview.

Don’t forget the following:
 Get a business card from each person-preferably before. This will help you remember names and functions
 Shake each person’s hand and give them your full attention for the length of time that you address them. The tendency might be to move along a line without focusing on each person. Make an individual connection.
 Practice, practice, practice. It would help you to write out a list of anticipated questions and their responses.
 Don’t sweat; generally the interviewers are not there to make you look bad. They are actually looking for the right person. They want it to go well.
 Don’t forget to smile.

Look at a panel interview as an opportunity to shorten the interview process. Instead of coming back for 3 or 4 interviews, you have the 1 and perhaps 1 more and a decision is made.

Happy Selling

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Making the jump from sales rep to sales manager-do I have what it takes?

I often hear candidates tell me that they would like to move from a sales rep position to a sales manager position but when I ask them why, they are unable to articulate why.

I have also heard that the best reps do not necessarily make the best managers. There are no hard and fast rules but there are some guidelines to help you discover if you would do well and enjoy being a sales manager.

1. Higher purpose-what drives the sales rep to want to be a manager? A great sales manager must have a higher purpose. It can’t be about dominating others. It has got to be about helping others succeed. If you take pride in seeing others soar, it could be the job for you.

2. Great communication skills- this is not just about “showing up and throwing up” the information but about showing reps what’s in it for them. As a sales manager, you’re still selling but now your audience are professional sales people.

3. Self awareness-this has often been described as a part of emotional intelligence. In the ever changing business world where your customers and your reps are heterogeneous, a great sales manager will appeal to each one differently. This means that you know yourself, know your different team members and manage to their strengths. And while you’re at it empathy is important.

4. Likability factor-we cannot underestimate a person’s likability. People work for and with people. A sales manager’s job is made that much easier if their team members like and respect them.

5. Self-confidence- you have got to have a self-confident air about you. Let’s face it, people want to work for people who are confident and are going places.

6. Organized-you now have to manage more than just yourself, provide answers and feedback to many other people and all in a reasonable time frame.

7. Healthy humility- a great sales leader does not take credit for their players wins but is able to sit back and feel great knowing that you contributed.

8. Leadership-one of the best definitions of leadership that I have seen is “process of social influence in which one person is able to enlist the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a common task”(1)

9. Driven to succeed-you must want to win and want others to win because it needs to be contagious.

10. Must love learning- if you are curious and want to improve your skills, be around people who can teach you and see learning as something you do for yourself rather than a task, then sales management might be for you.

11. Team player-need I say more. If you are a loner, you need not apply.

This is by no means a perfect list but it’s a beginning. I have heard sales management described as mothering, therapist and babysitter. If you do not like doing these kinds of things then think twice before applying for that management position.

Happy selling

1.Chemers, M. M. (2002). Cognitive, social, and emotional intelligence of transformational leadership: Efficacy and Effectiveness. In R. E. Riggio, S. E. Murphy, F. J. Pirozzolo (Eds.), Multiple Intelligences and Leadership.}

Thursday, April 9, 2009


Often when we tell a candidate that the next stage of the interview process, is testing, it strikes fear into the heart of many. This is often referred to as psychometric testing which is a field of study of educational and psychological measurement. You may have heard of Myers-Briggs, MMPI, Pop test etc. There are thousands of tests available and some companies administer the test before the interview to weed out candidates. The test could be a 20 minute online test or a full day test with an industrial psychologist. What companies want to do is to see whether there is a fit with the sales candidate’s ability and the job and/or organization. Often they want to see if there is a personality fit.

What many sales candidates try to do is guess what the employer is looking for. This may be good when working with your customers; it may be self-defeating in the test. The employer is looking for soft skills, sales skills and personality fit. Another thing that employers are looking for in sales candidates is your sales call reluctance and leadership ability. No test is perfect and there has been much criticism of such tests but they seem to be here to stay.

My advice when faced with a test, long or short is to get rest, try and do it in a positive relaxed frame of mind and take the time necessary to complete it. Most importantly, be truthful. You would not want to lie yourself through a test, get the job then later learn that the job and work environment does not suit your personality. The goal is to have a match made in heaven; so to speak.

Happy selling

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Standard etiquette to use with a recruiter

1. I think that arriving on time should be a “no brainer” but so many candidates do not arrive on time and make no apologies for it. There are even some candidates who don’t show up and never call. At my sales agencies, a note is put in that candidate’s file which could hamper their future chances. Try not to arrive more than 15 minutes early. I know that candidates that arrive 30 to 60 minutes early is a personal pet peeve of mine.

2. Remove your Bluetooth from your ear. And while you’re at it, remove the sunglasses from the top of your head.

3. Watch your language. I am quite amazed when candidates use profanity (swearing) to make a point. That shows bad form. I will also assume that this will be the language they will use with a client.

4. Dress for the position. I can’t stress this enough. The interview with the sales recruiter is no less important than the interview with the actual client. Last year I had a candidate show up in sneakers and jeans for a sales job. When I asked him about his attire, he told me that he felt that the meeting with the recruiter was not very important. Needless to say, I have not recommended him for any of my clients because his judgement is off and I have no idea what his “professional” image looks like. You can never be over dressed for an interview but you certainly can be under dressed. Err on the side of safety.

5. Get rid of your gum.

6. Try not to smoke a cigarette in your car before the interview. I have a client who reported back to us that our candidate smelt like cigarette smoke and that it was a turn off for her.

7. Practice the interview. In a sales interview I’m looking for standard information in every one such as what did you sell, to whom, sales cycle and accomplishments. The other part of the interview is situational or behavioural questions. This is where I will ask the candidate to give specific examples of different scenarios. It is difficult to prepare for these types of questions but you can prepare some short examples of difficult situations or biggest accomplishments that you had.

8. Take care of your body language. This includes how you sit, the tone and pitch of your voice, the words that you use and your passion for what you are speaking about. This is a sales job; I want to see positive energy. Also try and read the body language of the recruiter. Have you captured my attention? Are you going on and on? These are things that some candidates need to work on. Why not ask the recruiter how you did after the interview. When asked, I always give a truthful answer.

9. Focus on what you can do for the sales recruiter’s client not what’s in it for you.

10. Ask for the order. You are in sales after all. What makes you great for this role. This is your 30 second commercial. Notice I said 30 seconds. Don’t ramble on.

Happy selling

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Managing your online brand

Managing your online brand

Whenever I get a new client and sometimes with candidates; I’ll Google their name and read what comes up. I do this to gain some insight on the people I meet. I want to know what makes them tick. I also periodically Google my name. Increasingly, clients are doing the same. I am always amazed what comes up with some candidates.
As semi public figures; sales people must manage their brands very carefully. I once found some compromising photos of a candidate on his Facebook page and so did my client who was interviewing him.

There are social networks for business and those for friends. “And never the twain shall meet”- well almost. If you are on LinkedIn, make sure that these are business associates and Facebook for friends or really close business associates. I read somewhere that you should not put anything on the web that you don’t want your mother seeing or reading. Separate your 2 lives. I will be happy to connect with you on LinkedIn ( and my company’s Facebook account but my personal Facebook is for friends or business associates with whom I spend time and I would not be ashamed to show my mother everything on there.

Remember that employers are searching for information about you-let it be the positive stuff that they find.

Consider that some of the online content may never be erased. Don’t let youthful indiscretions cost you a great job!

Happy selling

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

10 things that a sales recruiter wants to see in your sales resume

1. All of your contact info-I know that I am stating the obvious but as a sales recruiter, I still see resumes without email addresses or phone numbers.

2. Description of your employer-I want to see a 1 liner description of your department. Imagine you work for GE. Do you sell appliances, transformers or medical imaging equipment.

3. Accomplishments-I want to know that I am dealing with someone who is a winner. Give me % over quota.

4. Exact dates- it’s a personal pet peeve of mine to see just years. There is one exception here; those of us who have a very long career can do so. Does 2007-2009 mean 2 years are just over 1 year?

5. Territory-did you serve a postal code, a province, state or 1 building? Did you have a vertical territory or a geographic one?

6. Kind of sales-were you inside or outside and did you serve an existing base of customer or was it 100% development?

7. Action-show me in words that you are a person of action. This can be accomplished by words and the look and feel of your resume.

8. Personalize it- so many times I receive a resume or cover letter addressing another position. This is very lazy. Take the time to have a resume or cover letter for a sales recruiter.

9. Think with the end in mind-“what’s in it for me”. Think like your audience-why should they care about seeing your resume or you.

10. Impeccable grammar and spelling-need I say more about this one?

this does not mean that it has to be 22 pages (I actually got one this long once).
Keep it succinct. keep them coming back for more.

happy selling.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

10 Tips to help sales people get their “mojo” working

1. Tell yourself that it’s just temporary-If you have been on top before and find yourself in a slump, tell yourself “and this too shall pass”. This expression means that dark and dreary days will turn around. But it also means that the Klondike days don’t last either. The best thing that you can do as a salesperson is not to forget the basics so that you are ready when the good times roll around again.

2. Align yourself with successful people-this is not the time to shy away from those people who are doing well. Listen, watch and learn from these people. Happy and successful people’s attitude should rub off on you.

3. Take a good hard look at your work habits-have you been consistently doing what has made you successful in the past? Continue doing what’s working, stop what isn’t and look to add 1 or 2 more great practices.

4. Adjust your attitude-sometimes the limitations are between our 2 ears. Listen to one of the positive podcasts, read a sales motivational book or attend a seminar. These short term solutions are sometimes what we need-even if it’s for a whole month.

5. Set some short term goals-use the carrot approach to reward yourself for some short term goals. It could a goal as short as by this Friday, I want to...

6. Make a list-sit down in a quiet area and make a list of your priorities that need to get done. It is very easy to get distracted by emails, phone calls and casual visits. Do the things that you like the least 1st-get them out of the way. If they are important enough to make your list then by all means do them.

7. Advance your sales processes-you are not here to make the sale, although that would be great. Your goal is to move your sales from one stage to the next.

8. Mingle-get out there, meet new people, and share a cocktail and a joke. This may act as a diversion but you may meet a suspect.

9. Meet other sales people in non competitive industries-how can you help each other? Do they have customers you’d like to get at? And vice versa?

10. Help someone else-this does not have to be business related and can be completely altruistic. Helping someone else always makes you feel better and the side benefit is that you may have changed a life.

Happy selling


Wednesday, March 4, 2009

How to weather the storm as a sales person

It seems that gloom and doom news is swirling around us and it is sometimes difficult to not let it affect us. Consider this; the need for good sales people is on the rise (see my last post), you have quite a bit of power in your own hands to change things and even if more customers are taking longer, delaying their purchases or not purchasing at all; now is the time to dig in and keep at it. Now the part of sales being a numbers game becomes true. Outwork outcall and out manoeuvre your competition. I believe one of the significant differences between winners and losers is that; given the same information; winners feel more optimistic about their chances of success. And perhaps they are doing more to put themselves in a position to win when things turn around.

This is the time to recruit new customers and work your networks. How many of you ask satisfied customers for a referral? I know that I sometimes am guilty of not always performing this very simple step.

Ever heard of paying it forward? It’s a simple concept which is based on doing good deeds for others as an acknowledgement of the good that has happened to you. Be a source of information and help to your customers, friends and families. I am not suggesting that you do good deeds to get something back in return but that is generally what happens and as a side benefit, you feel good!

What does all of this have to do about sales, sales recruiting and weathering a storm; it’s all about your attitude getting you through more challenging times.
Good business is out there, great sales jobs are too. Somebody will be awarded these sales jobs and these orders. Why not YOU!

Good selling!!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

It’s a great time to be in sales!

It’s a great time to be in sales. You’re probably asking what planet I’ve come from but I assure you that I am serious. All around us, we hear terrible news but if you listen and look carefully, there are many pieces of good news. In Saturday February 21st’s Montreal Gazette, they featured an article on 5 professions that are more in demand during a recession. Sales representative was one of the 5 professions. They go on to quote Statistics Canada saying that there was a 7.7% increase in 2008. Companies needed growth and business development and that’s where we play a role. We help companies with their organic growth plans.

In addition to this very promising fact, sales people also have the power to dictate their own paycheques. A good percentage of our salaries are generated by commissions and these are generally of our own doing. So much of what we do is an intelligent numbers game, relationship building and being strategic. We can sit down at the beginning of the year, quarter or month and build a plan for how much we want to make and work backwards. Every pay can be a mystery.

Sales recruitment is increasing. Clients are looking for the winners who aren’t going to let a “little recession” drag them down.

So get out there, turn off the television and remember why you joined this wonderful profession. Perhaps it was to help others, be a champion, make money, meet people or for the challenge.

What recession!!!!!??

Happy selling