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Archive for April, 2009

HBR Article: The Definitive Guide to Recruiting in Good Times and Bad

Saturday, April 25th, 2009

On with Talent Month. Today, my May HBR arrived and it contained an article about recruiting in good times and bad.

The authors offer a 7 step hiring process with best practices at each step and a survey for you to take to determine how your company’s recruiting strategy stacks up.

Enjoy as we march on through Talent Month on the Sales & The City blog.

Click here to enjoy the article, The Definitive Guide to Recruiting in Good Times and Bad.

Blog post brought to you by Jill Myrick of Meeting to Win, LLC. Meeting to Win offers sales team meeting agendas for sales leaders who want to have sales-generating, thought-provoking, energy-building sales team meetings each week. Join our growing sales leadership community by subscribing today. We also offer a FREE weekly 10-Minute Topic so you can try us out.

FREE Webinar from Top Sales Experts (Thurs, April 23) – The Sales Leadership Imperative

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

The Sales Leadership Imperative
Thursday April 23rd 2009 1.00 PM EASTERN

FACT: There has never been a more critical time for sales managers to lead from the front:

Most sales professionals, in most industry sectors, are struggling to meet sales quotas and there appears to be no light at the end of the tunnel. The reality is that there are still plenty of opportunities but the rules of engagement have changed – possibly forever.

Sales leaders, who have recognized these changes, are re-educating their sales teams and adopting a totally new approach.

Join two of the foremost sales team development experts in the world – Keith Rosen & Jonathan Farrington – for this hard-hitting coaching session created specifically for sales captains who have 100% commitment to doing whatever it takes to elevate their sales to a whole new level.”

Keith & Jonathan will highlight how you can:

  • Leverage your personal strengths as well as the hidden talents of your team
  • Communicate, connect and captivate your team during each meeting or conversation
  • Utilize a proven coaching model to impact performance immediately.
  • Engage in daily revenue-generating activities and stop doing the things you shouldn’t be doing in the first place
  • Master the language of leaders, to get people into action without resistance
  • Build internal coaching program and ignite a power team
  • Develop the infallible confidence of a true champion to model what you want your people to achieve
  • Recruit, retain and motivate your top producers and turnaround underperformers
  • Turnaround or terminate an underperformer in less than 30 days.

Register HERE for this FREE Webinar.

Measuring Sales Performance in a Down Economy by Kathleen Steffey

Sunday, April 19th, 2009

Sales & the City is honored to welcome guest author, Kathleen Steffey, CEO of Naviga Business Services and author Sales Journal.

Naviga is a nationwide sales and marketing recruiting firm that is headquartered in Tampa, along beautiful Bayshore Blvd. Naviga was founded in 2002, by Kathleen Steffey. Kathleen’s background encompasses hands-on corporate recruiting, international recruiting as an Expat in Europe and leading corporate recruiting teams who have had national sales and marketing recruiting responsibility. This experience has been within fast growing, high sales volume technology companies.

Kathleen holds a Master’s Degree in Business Leadership from National Louis University and has a very high standard of quality for her entire National Recruiting team. See some of Naviga’s current openings at the end of this post.

Measuring Sales Performance in a Down Economy

In a perfect world, sales professionals would be evaluated on their ability to achieve quotas and generate revenues. But such clear-cut metrics don’t work in today’s economy, when even A Players can only stand by and watch helplessly as their numbers plummet.

The reality is that companies are scaling back purchases, including products and services that were once considered recession-proof. To punish top talent for failing to grow sales in an economy where no one is buying will ultimately backfire when individuals seek employment with a competitor who understands that there is more to selling than closing every deal—especially in a bad economy.

Financial goals are important, but they cannot be the sole determinant of performance in down times. Other criteria such as net activity levels, attitude and motivation are equally important, as they demonstrate an individual’s efforts to keep the company visible in the marketplace.

Are your sales professionals showing up every day with a positive outlook? Are they aggressive and proactive at identifying new prospects? Are they doing what it takes to close sales in a bad economy by working harder to build out their prospect pipelines to achieve the volume necessary to generate returns?

Indeed, even if their numbers have slipped, top sales professionals with a deep understanding of the company’s products and services remain the best weapons in this economy. The key is to arm them with the information and tools they need to succeed.

“Candidates with good business acumen are at an advantage since they can discuss the financial perspective with respect to the business benefits their customers and clients will receive from their products,” notes Dave Stein, CEO of ES Research Group, which analyzes and advises companies on sales training and performance. “With that being said, it’s so important for a sales leader to understand the skills and traits of any candidates. For example, someone with all the skills but a relatively pessimistic perspective isn’t going to do well now.”

Stein recommends psychometric and predictive testing to better-understand a sales professional’s perspective and personality traits to ensure they are suited to thrive in a down economy. But he also points out that success is not solely dependent upon abilities. Rather, it is “the responsibility of the company to make sure their products, services, value articulation, marketing, customer service, references, etc. are all in place. Some of that has to be rebuilt for positioning in this economy.”

In other words, rather than punishing the sales team for missing unrealistic quotas, companies should focus on motivation and training to give them the tools they need to be more effective.

While ES Research specializes in providing companies with the tools and strategies they need to keep sales teams motivated and effective, others such as The Brooks Group offer training programs specifically for selling in down economies.

Investing in these services and refocusing the criteria by which sales performance is measured are solid strategies to ensure that a company has the sales team it needs to survive the economic downturn and position itself to thrive once it turns around.

Current Openings from Naviga Business Services:

  • Sales Representative, Agriculture, (Midwest), $65,000 base/ $100,000 at plan: Contact us now about this career: 1 (866) 487-4156
  • District General Manager, Fire and Security Company, (Southern NJ), $100,000 to $115,000 base/ $125,000 to $140,000 at plan: Contact us now about this career: 1 (866) 487-4156
  • Inside Sales Representatives, Market Research Company, (New York), $50,000 to $60,000 base/ $100,000 to $110,000 at plan: Contact us now about this career: 1 (866) 487-4156
  • Sales Representative, IT Solutions Company, IT Services (New York,NY ), $70,000 to $75,000 base/ $180,000 at plan: Contact us now about this career: 1 (866) 487-4156
  • Territory Manager, Engraving Products Company, Capital Equipment, (Denver, CO), $0 base/ $60,000 to $65,000 at plan: Contact us now about this career: 1 (866) 487-4156

How to Nail an Interview LINK

Friday, April 17th, 2009

As you know, it’s Talent Month on our blog. This morning Seth’s blog linked to these 22 ways to nail an interview, complete with visual aids. What a perfect study to share this month – even if all you need is a good laugh. Enjoy!

The Golden Rule in Interviewing Ettiquette

Thursday, April 16th, 2009

This topic seems like it should be unnecessary and yet it is. The Golden Rule applies in so many areas of life and the interview process is no exception. As sales leaders, we need to recognize that while we are searching for our next top performer everyone we are interviewing is searching for their next home. A career move is a very important decision and sets a candidate on a path into a new future. As sales leaders we need to respect this and take a few extra steps to create a positive interview experience.

Right now, you may have more candidates available than you’ve had in the past. This, unfortunately, can cause ettiquette to slip. In this market, you never know when you may be on the interviewing end instead! How would you want to be treated?

How can you apply the Golden Rule to your interview process?

1. Be open and honest with candidates during the interview. Tell them any concerns you have about their interview, experience and ability to do the job. Give them an opportunity to agree or share information that will help you make the best decision possible.

2. Keep them posted about next steps, the timing of those next steps and especially if there aren’t going to be any next steps. Candidates are often wondering how they did in the interview and, possibly, waiting by the phone. As soon as you know, let them know so they can plan for the next steps or move on. It amazes me how often strong candidates, after a face-to-face interview, never hear from the interviewer again.

3. If you pass on a candidate tell them why. Wise candidates will take the information and use it to their advantage.

4. Discuss money, travel, duties early. Why waste everyone’s time if any of these are way off.

5. When passing on a candidate after a face-to-face interview, tell them personally. An e-mail is not good enough. Pick up the phone and deliver the news. You both invested time to meet and it is respectful to share this information in a conversation.

6. Don’t use form letters or if you do, don’t try to write them as if they aren’t form letters. “After careful consideration, blah, blah, blah…“. Everyone knows that a company’s resume software weeded out certain resumes that didn’t have certain keywords, etc, etc. Be honest if you must use form letters and say “Our system did not detect that you have the right experience...”. The form letter that tries to come off as personal is insulting and disrespectful.

7. Give candidates an opportunity to fully assess the position. If you want to move forward, give them the chance to interview and meet the team and others they may be working with or for. This is an important decision for them, also. You know who they should meet to get the best possible information to help them make the best decision – provide access.

Most sales leaders take the time to treat candidates as they would also want to be treated. For those who have slipped in this area, I hope this is a good reminder. Please feel free to add to the list from your own experience as an interviewer or interviewee.

Bonus article: Interview Like a Trusted Advisor by Charles Green.

As promised, we’ll be posting career opportunities in this blog.

Myrick Recruiting Current Career Opportunities:

  • VP of Sales for Mfg Co in N.J. Exp in whole & retail dist for bldg supplies req. Thx!
  • Proj Sales Rep for Mech Eng firm in Houston. Energy saving proj exp req. Send to

Kicking Off Talent Month on the Sales & The City Blog

Monday, April 13th, 2009

For the next month, this blog will focus on talent. Building the right team is a critically important task for sales leaders and I believe it deserves some considerable focus. As I was getting ready to tackle this very important topic, in my inbox appeared another flash of brilliance from Seth Godin. It seemed like a great way to kick-off this focus on talent.

Here is a link to Seth’s article, It’s harder to hire great people in a tough economy.

Sales Performance Book Club Discussion Guide – What the Customer Wants You to Know by Ram Charan

Monday, April 13th, 2009

Each quarter we are at Meeting to Win lead our subscribers through a book in the segment called Sales Performance Book Club. In Q1 we did Ram Charan’s book What the Customer Wants You to Know. Participants applied the concepts and shared so many great success stories. Below is a discussion guide if you would like to have your own Sales Performance Book Club.

Sales Performance Book Club – What the Customer Wants You to Know by Ram Charan

Chapter 1

  • Hear from the most experienced sales people on your team how selling has changed during their career.
  • What does “Value Creation Selling” (VCS) mean to you today?
  • Based on the definition and characteristics of VCS outlined in Chapter 1, where do you believe your team excels? Where could you stand some improvement?

Chapter 2

  • From pages 18-22, which, if any, of those things are true in your organization? (The next chapters will address ideas for moving forward.

Chapter 3

  • With which customers do you have a high level of trust? What evidence exists to suggest you have this level of trust?
  • With which customers do you NOT have a high level of trust? What are the reasons?
  • On page 40, Ram lists 5 things you need to understand about your customers to become a trusted partner.
  • What are some ideas to gain this understanding where you don’t already have it?

Chapter 4

  • Each participant should share one thing you took away from Chapter 4. Will you do anything differently moving forward?
  • Page 58: At the bottom of pg 58, the 3 elements of a “VAP” are described. Each participant should take a current deal in the pipeline and describe the 3 elements for that deal.
  • Page 66: What is the “TVO” for that same deal? If you don’t know, how can you find out?

Chapter 5

  • Based on Chapter 5, what shift, if any, needs to occur on your own team to make the transition to VCS?
  • Is there anything from this chapter you, as a team, can control to begin to make this shift?

Chapter 6

  • Compare your current final presentations to the description of presenting the value creation proposition as outlined in Chapter 6.
  • Is there anything about your current approach you believe should change after reading this chapter?
  • How can you adapt this style over the phone or in less formal “final presentations”?

Chapter 7

  • Each participant should share their thoughts on Chapter 7.
  • As a team, answer the question on page 130: “Are we helping our customers prosper and are we sharing in their prosperity?

Chapter 8 & The End of the Story

  • Each participant should share their thoughts on Chapter 8 and “The End of the Story”. (Next agenda will cover the Appendix.)
  • As a team, determine specifically how you can become your company’s “pace-setters” like Jack called Charlie in his letter.

Appendix, How Far Are You with Value Creation Selling?

  • Please review and, as a group, discuss the questions in the Appendix.
  • What action items can your team take away from this discussion?

Wrapping Up

  • Start/Stop/Continue
    Congratulations, you’ve completed the book What the Customer Wants You to Know by Ram Charan. Now please answer the following questions:
  • What is one thing you will START doing? Why?
  • What is one thing you will STOP doing? Why?
  • What is one thing you will CONTINUE doing? Why?

We hope you’ve enjoyed your Sales Performance Book Club discussion. We are currently in our Q2 book, The Exceptional Presenter by Timothy Koegel. To join us, simply subscribe to the Meeting to Win weekly sales team meetings and join the Sales Performance Book Club currently in action.

To receive FREE weekly sales team meeting topics, subscribe here.

Job Hopping or Financial Survival? by Kathleen Steffey of Naviga Business Services

Wednesday, April 8th, 2009

Sales & the City is honored to welcome guest author, Kathleen Steffey, CEO of Naviga Business Services.

Naviga is a nationwide sales and marketing recruiting firm that is headquartered in Tampa, along beautiful Bayshore Blvd. Naviga was founded in 2002, by Kathleen Steffey. Kathleen’s background encompasses hands-on corporate recruiting, international recruiting as an Expat in Europe and leading corporate recruiting teams who have had national sales and marketing recruiting responsibility. This experience has been within fast growing, high sales volume technology companies.

Kathleen holds a Master’s Degree in Business Leadership from National Louis University and has a very high standard of quality for her entire National Recruiting team.

Job Hopping or Financial Survival?
by Kathleen Steffey of Naviga Business Services

I’m seeing a trend lately where sales reps – even A Players – are taking any job they can find, even if it doesn’t make sense for them in the long-term, then continuing to shop for the right position. In many cases, it’s an economic necessity. Which is why hiring managers may need to adjust their opinions of job-hoppers, at least until the economy recovers.

The reality is that professionals who would have once waited out the job market are now accepting the first position they’re offered, either because they’re next in line for a pink slip or they’ve already received one. They’re frightened, which is understandable. The current state of the economy has put things into perspective for us all.

It has also forced many sales pros into the role of entrepreneur, figuring out how to survive on 100% commission positions that are the now the norm among companies that are currently hiring in sales. Once, these positions would have been disregarded by highly qualified A Players. Now, they may be the only opportunities out there.

This trend goes hand-in-hand with another one I’ve noticed: Hiring managers relaxing their standards a bit when it comes to vetting potential sales candidates.

A year ago, no one would have looked twice at a resume from someone who had been on a job for less than a year and was already looking or out of work. Nor would they have put much faith in the decision-making abilities of someone who was in a position for which they were clearly overqualified.

But it appears – and perhaps rightly so – that today’s hiring managers recognize that a shaky recent employment history doesn’t necessarily mean the candidate is high-risk. It may simply be the case of an A Player doing whatever it takes to pay their mortgage and put food on the table. When that’s the case, any position is better than no position. And even if they aren’t happy, because they are A Players, they will put 100% toward earning their commission to ensure they can continue to survive.

What are some of the recent economy-related employment trends you’ve noticed?

Meeting to Win, LLC and the Sales & the City blog would like to thank Kathleen Steffey and Naviga.

Winning is a Team Sport

Thursday, April 2nd, 2009

Baseball season is just around the corner. Your favorite teams have been on the practice fields for weeks now preparing for a season of winning. Which teams will actually do the winning will be determined by the collective effort, attitude and performance of the team. Sales teams are no different. As your team faces new selling challenges and uncertainty now is a great time to mobilize your team for a winning season, also. Here are some ways to harness the energy and experience of your sales team to increase momentum and obtain a winning record even during an unpredictable economy.
1. Once a week get together with your team on the phone or in person for a “War Room” discussion. During this time, share experiences, customer feedback, successes and disappointments. By learning from the collective experience of the team each member of the team will be able to stay proactive to address the same issues.
2. Help each other WIN. Each week, get together with one or two members of your team and scrutinize pipelines. Get ideas, look for red flags, ask tough questions and set next steps.
3. Ask a team member to analyze your wins and losses with you. Learn from those and then share the lessons with the entire team.
4. Challenge your team to take some time to share best practices. If they try something that is working, share it with the team.
5. Develop subject matter experts on your team. Each member of the team can become an expert on a useful topic (competitor, industry, product, tool, etc). The rest of the team can rely on that person to help on that topic.
6. Invite guest speakers from your company team to teach your sales team useful information. Have your CFO give a business acumen lesson, ask marketing to share current market research or ask a company top performer to share their habits.
7. Review each other’s target account lists and determine where referrals sources may exist across your team. Challenge your team to make referrals a habit.
8. Engage your leadership team to remove barriers or create pathways on pipeline opportunities.
9. Get everyone in the company actively involved in winning deals every week. Everyone, no matter what their role, can play a part in winning.
10. Do what is right for the customer’s business, not your quota, in every selling scenario. Winning is a team sport. Get the entire team in position and enjoy a winning season…as a team.

Get the sales team meeting topic, Winning is a Team Sport, at the Meeting to Win Store.

Presentation Skills = Life Skills

Wednesday, April 1st, 2009

The next Meeting to Win Sales Performance Book Club is The Exceptional Presenter by Timothy J. Koegel. It will be a great discussion topic for the next quarter.
Since it was so nicely timed, I thought I would alert my readers to the current Salesopedia issue, Engaging Presentations (Salesopedia Media Volume 3 Number 13P ).
Becoming a great presenter is more than a sales skill, it is a life skill. I’ll be reading my current Salesopedia issue for new ideas on this very important topic.
My name is Jill Myrick. I write this blog to share experiences and ideas with salespeople and sales managers. I enjoy sharing successes and especially failures for the lessons they both bring. Please feel free to comment and share your reactions, ideas and suggestions, also.
Jill Myrick, Meeting to Win, Better Sales Team Meetings start HERE. 5-Meeting Deal Maker series starts Friday! Subscribe today to enjoy a great month of momentum in your pipeline.