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October 11, 2010

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"I Love You Man, But You're Fired" (Hiring and Firing Are the Toughest Part of Sales Management)

Hiring and firing -- the toughest part of Sales Management -- at least for me.  It seems like both ends of the process should be pretty simple, but for anyone who has made these decisions, or is currently trying to make them, we know that they are not.

I could write a book on this topic, however, this being a blog, I’ll focus on what my special guest Anthony Iannarino and I plan to discuss on this week’s Glance webinar:  A Sales Manager's Guide to Identifying and Dealing with Sales Winners and Losers: Hiring and Firing Sales Professionals and the Impact of Your Belief Systems.

What?!

I can hear many of you saying, now, “That Scontras is whacked -- belief systems?!  What about quota attainment, skills, past performance, etc?” 

All great questions, but only when asked relative to the Sales belief systems that you have committed to developing.

So, what’s a sales belief system?  

Understanding may be found in a simple comparative of big and small companies. For example larger companies typically break down sales process into very specific roles: Biz Dev, Inside, Outside, Overlay, etc., therefore selling beliefs are commonly systemic, heavily metric’d and micro-managed. On the contrary, small starts-up organizations, with limited capital, require sales pros to maintain entrepreneurial beliefs, wear many hats (all of the above), yet deliver results with little oversight. 

Many types of sales cultures exist; these are just 2 examples to make a point. That is; just because the resume of a large company sales rep boasts exceptional results; we shouldn’t expect similar performance from that same rep when hired into a foreign belief system – i.e. the start-up.

Most sales organizations, inherited or originally hired by us, are comprised of people who carry with them a variance in sales beliefs.  The greater the variance and longer this gap remains open after employment, the higher the degree of difficulty in delivering results as an individual or team.

Fixing this problem requires that we improve our interview process for new reps, while at the same time set and manage expectations for existing reps.

On the hiring front, we must evolve our mentality away from resume-based screening, and refocus interview questions to assist us in identifying candidates with the strongest “belief system fit”. While with our existing 'underperformers' we must provide the necessary “love”; pointing out where belief system gaps exist, and of course, providing the coaching and tools necessary to assist in their development.  

So, what are the right questions to ask in the interview process?  Am I really going to overlook a top performer’s resume, for belief system fit?  With my reps, exactly how much love is enough love?  And how long do I need to give the process before I can replace them?

All great questions! Each will be addressed by Anthony and myself during this Wednesday’s event.  As part of our preparation I have had the pleasure of discussing these very issues with him and have found his perspective eye-opening, to say the least.  In fact he has me re-thinking my own philosophies, particularly the one which reminds me that for the most part, my team and its performance, is really up to me. 

Crazy, right?  

Please join us Wednesday at 1pm ET!

-- Tom Scontras, VP, Sales & Marketing, Glance Networks

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