Infocusselling’s Blog

October 19, 2009

Hiring Salespeople: Much More Difficult in Down Times

Hiring quality salespeople has become very difficult. Not because they are hard to find, but because they are now mixed into a very large crowd of unemployed salespeople who range from mediocre to miserable.

 Only three years ago, great salespeople were employed and you had to recruit them. With so much downsizing in the past few years, great salespeople have been the victim of bigger problems.

The sheer volume of available salespeople has made us forget what hiring is all about. Hiring is about finding the best candidate you can afford to fill a tightly defined job description. Filling holes with bodies is not a strategy you can afford—the costs in missed sales opportunities and damaged client relationships is too great.

I had a client admit that a recent hire had been based on how well she got along with the person, how much she enjoyed the person, and that it was an emotional hire. There was only one glitch—the person was totally unqualified for the position and the result was a termination in less than 30 days. How terribly expensive and disruptive for both the company and the person.  Yet, had this person been allowed to stay in the organization, a tremendous statement would have been made regarding the level of expertise and performance allowed at all levels.

The main responsibility of a president is to set the standard for inflexible and absolute excellence.

If you are trying to grow, every hire is critical toward that goal. Hiring is about increasing the average quality level of your employee team. It is a no-compromise approach that mimics the way you expect your R&D department to innovate and your manufacturing line to produce. Commitment to excellence starts at the top and your commitment to hire only the best sets a tone that will resonate throughout the organization. Today’s compromised hire is tomorrow’s painful termination, and is the beginning of an uncontrollable slide to mediocrity. When we allow someone into our organization who does not fit our requirements, we dilute the power and productivity of all our other team members, and create a myriad of unpleasantries including loss of profit, reduction in quality, and increased employee terminations.

Do you want to shorten the list of unpleasantries as president? Be brutally and painfully honest in sales team hiring and you will have fewer terminations. Sales hiring should follow this process:

  • Consider the level of active sales management you are willing and able to perform and commit to on a regular basis
  • Know if you are looking for an internal salesperson (who will focus on account maintenance, growth, and retention) or an outside salesperson (who will focus on new account development)
  • Have a written set of expectations, objectives, duties, and minimum requirements and qualifications.
  • Interview without emotion remembering the risk in today’s terminations.
  • Consider all candidates for 48 hours–never hire on the spot.
  • Invest the time to have multiple people interview your top candidates, even if that means going to someone outside your organization who can be more objective since he or she does not feel the pain of an empty sales desk. Use people who have different goals, perspectives, and personalities so that you get different views on your candidates.
  • Invest in communication, style, and skills profiling to see if the person is as presented. A mediocre sales person can sell a non-salesperson doing the hiring an igloo when it is 95 degrees out.
  • Include the expectations and duties in the written offer letter and go through the letter line by line face to face.
  • Relentlessly stick to your written objectives and do not get caught up in hiring someone who looks good if you really need someone who looks great. Stay the course and get a great addition to your team
  • Look for bad trends on the first day. Anything that does not seem right will only get worse.

 Once a salesperson has been added to your team, it will be your responsibility to keep this person on track. Hiring a salesperson is an investment, not a cost. You are spending cash now to receive more cash later. And like any financial investment, it needs monitoring for trends and results. No matter how little sales management you want to do, every salesperson, even the best salesperson, needs a sales manager. A sales manager is a coach, confidant, motivator, consultant, and congratulator—sometimes all in the same day. You cannot hire a salesperson and expect him or her to tackle the world and bring in sales on the first day or even in the first year without your input. You know your company better than a new person and you know where you are strong or weak in your market. (If not, find out before you invest in a salesperson.)

 With our current unemployment and underemployment, there are probably 1000 qualified candidates within an hour of you. Follow the steps above to be sure you are ready to hire and ready to manage. If you are ready, then as you add people to your organization, don’t get a good one–get the best one.


March 2, 2009

Engagement – The Secret of Productivity: Caring

One of the truisms in business is: “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care”. That is true with customers but that is another article. It is even more important with your people. It doesn’t matter whether you have 1 or 1001, all the rest of what you do during the day won’t have any impact unless your people know that you care about them.


December 2, 2008

Commitment to Quality

Filed under: INFOCUSSELLING BLOG — Educated and Aware @ 7:09 pm
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Commitment to Quality – A Leadership Principle

by Scott Seibert

What in the world does a Commitment to Quality have to do with the leading of people?  There are probably millions of people working for organizations whose quality of product or service is far less than what we might consider one of high quality.  They seem to survive.  That’s the Point.


November 3, 2008

Clear Expectations

Clear Expectations – The Base of the Leadership Pyramid
by Scott Seibert

“I can’t believe I’m paying these people my hard earned money to accomplish so little.” Have you ever had that thought? Maybe the language used was actually a bit stronger. The next thought would be something like, “Don’t they know what I’m paying them to do?” The answer to the second question is the answer to the first tragic situation.


August 28, 2008

Engagement: Relevance

Filed under: INFOCUSSELLING BLOG — Educated and Aware @ 9:25 pm
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Engagement: The Secret of Productivity – Relevance

by Scott Seibert

This is the seventh in a series on Leadership. Leadership can be defined as the ability to get people to follow you not because they have to or get paid to, but because they want to. Part of the foundation of Leadership is to make your people Relevant. It is my experience that if you make your people part of the solution, not only will they not be part of the problem, they will make the solution easier.


August 1, 2008

Encouraging Development

Engagement – The Secret of Productivity – Encouraging Development
by Scott Seibert

There is a secret to productivity. It is called engagement. It is what happens when a wise leader or enlightened manager of people discovers how to build a team of people who perpetually strive to improve the organization of which they are a part. And they do so because they want to, not because they have to.

This is the seventh article in our series on Leadership. We’ll call it Encouraging Development. Developing people does not necessarily mean promoting people. It does mean helping them find a role that takes full advantage of their strengths. Sometime it is just called “fit”. Most people are happy in their jobs when they can maximize their skills, knowledge, and talent. These people show up every day. They learn from their mistakes and grow. They mentor others and create a corporate culture of success.


June 10, 2008

Engagement: CARING

Engagement…The Secret of Productivity: Caring

By Scott Seibert, Sales & Leadership Strategist

This is the fifth in a series of articles on Leadership and the management of your most precious asset, your people.

One of the truisms in business is: “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care”.  That is true with customers but that is another article.  It is even more important with your people.  It doesn’t matter whether you have 1 or 1001, all the rest of what you do during the day won’t have any impact unless your people know that you care about them.

The Gallup Organization states in their Best Practices work: “A productive work environment is one in which people feel safe-safe enough to experiment, to make mistakes, to challenge, to share information, to support each other, and where the employees are prepared to give the manager and the company the benefit of the doubt.  None of this can happen if the individual does not feel cared about.  Relationships are the glue that holds great workplaces together.  You, the manager, set the tone for the kinds of relationships that will be fostered among your team.”  Thus the mere act of showing people that you care about them can mean the difference between profit and loss.  Pretty simple.

What in the world then does “caring” mean?  Gallop states that “The best managers define caring as setting each person up for success.”  Think about this.  In the beginning we only hire people in order that we can spend more time doing the things that make us successful.  We set expectations. From those expectations we develop job descriptions.  We can then develop metrics to determine if that person is achieving what we need them to achieve and then appraise their performance to reward them for that achievement.  What then?

If we do nothing beyond that point we will have someone who will work for us until they tire of the mundane essence of the job.  Patrick Lencioni in his book The Three Signs of a Miserable Job calls this Anonymity.  Unless your people understand that you care about them and how they do their job, you can never, let me repeat NEVER, expect them to take on the challenge of making what they do important.  It is because you don’t.  At least it is because you don’t tell them.  If you combine the simple acts of discovering what makes your people want to succeed, and then structuring their job to allow them to do so, you can create a workforce that will force success upon you.

Lencioni writes, “… the simple act of getting to know them” will differentiate you from 99% of their potential employers.  Find out about their families, their problems, their aspirations.  Just ask.  If you do this simple task, your people will open up and let you in.  You will develop trust because of no other reason than you care about them.  The greatest asset an employer can have among his people is trust.  You can not pay for it.  You can not demand it.  You have to earn it.  This is a secret that is very simple.  Try it.  You will be extremely successful if you do it right.

Caring about your people does not mean you have to involve them in your personal life.  You just have to care about theirs.  You make many investments in your business, time, money, etc.  If you make the simple investment of caring about your people, you will get the highest return on any investment you will ever make.

There are some simple tasks that you can follow:

  • Don’t fake it. Gallop teaches that if you don’t care about your people, do not try to persuade them that you do. Either get new people, or get out of management.
  • Tell them. Pick your moments and let them know that you care about their success and that you will work with them to make it happen.
  • Differentiate among your people. NEVER treat all of them the same. Each of us needs to be treated in a certain way to maximize our effectiveness.
  • Always be consistent in that you evaluate them on measurable performance, set each up for success in their function, and you follow through on your commitments.

Like the other aspects of Leadership, these endeavors are not easy, just simple.  It takes a plan and it takes practice to do them right.   If you think you’d like to have some help or guidance, call us.

Scott Seibert is a Sales and Leadership Strategist with ACTUM Group, where he specializes in increasing profit by improving team focus and interaction. For more information on Scott, click here

May 12, 2008


ENGAGEMENT:  The Power of Productivity – RECOGNITION

by Scott Seibert, Sales & Leadership Strategist

Tom Peters used the term “MBWA”.  It stands for Management By Walking Around.  His message was to always look for people doing things right, and then recognize their efforts and accomplishments.  Why have so many of the world’s management gurus stressed this simple tactic?  Because if done right, it will make you successful and filthy, stinking rich.

As we all know, finding people doing things wrong is quite easy.  We do this every day when reading the paper, watching a sporting event, interacting with our family and co-workers.  If we own or run a business, we seemingly have an endless supply of opportunities with our employees.  It allows us to show others that we know how things should be done and we do so in no uncertain terms.  It is exasperating to us that others won’t or don’t listen and follow our orders every time they do something.  It is actually our fault.


April 12, 2008


Filed under: INFOCUSSELLING BLOG — Educated and Aware @ 9:02 am
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How Employee Engagement Increases Everyone’s Productivity

by Scott Seibert

If a competitor would not try to steal your people, why not?  If you were to walk into your business today and begin the process of growing it so that you could someday sell it for some multiple of $1,000,000, how would you start that process?

Why are the answers to both questions the same?

I’ve found over the last 30 years that some truths about life and business are universal.   One of those is that each of us is the most productive and happiest when we are doing something we really are good at, enjoy, and through which we are allowed to maximize our talents.  If you apply that to your business and create a culture where you and your people are given the opportunity and tools to do your/their best every day, your business will flourish far beyond what you thought possible.

In earlier articles we’ve touched on the discovery of productivity through the engagement of your people.  We began with the simple step of letting your people know exactly what was expected and then training them to get that done.  Allowing and encouraging them to do what they do best is the next step in the process.

The same is true in your own activities on a daily basis.  In ACTUM’s Leadership Coaching one of the tenants is to discover what you really want to do, and then do it.  Sounds like a Nike commercial….  Both scenarios have to do with discovering people’s strengths and then making sure everyone understands in detail their skills, knowledge, and talents.  We all see reality through different filters.  We need to understand why we act and react the way we do and how best to communicate with others using those traits.  We need to figure out what we are good at and then find a role within our organizations that will allow us to succeed.  And then from a leadership standpoint, we need to figure out how to bring others with us.

How do you do that for your people?  The first act is to hold up a mirror.  Earnestly discuss what your people like and dislike about their jobs and why.  Ask how they would change either their role or their job so that they could become more productive.  How would they measure their success?  You will discover in a very short time whether there is a possible fit between person and job expectations.

The second act is to have your people hone their skills to be able to maximize the utilization of their talents.  Give them exceedingly more complex and important projects to test their abilities and to give them a taste of success.  Nothing breeds success like success.

For you, the first act is exactly the same.  What comes easily?  In what endeavors have you tasted that sweetness of success.  Define how it came about.  What skills or talents did you use?  How can you expand on those talents to build them into strengths?

That adventure will open the doors to where you want to go.  It is up to you to walk through that door.  If you would like some help, call us.

Scott Seibert is a Sales and Leadership Strategist with ACTUM Group, where he specializes in increasing profit by improving team focus and interaction. For more information on Scott, click here




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