Finding Good People. 25 Years Of Insights, Part 2

Continuing with insights on finding good people. . .

(See Part 1)

Insight #5: Another borrowed phrase, you get what you inspect, not what you expect. Having expectations of performance and then not inspecting the results and process of that will have a negative effect. The goal is performance and the way to see that this gets done is to look at the activities and procedures you have put into place and trained for. Are they doing it? Are they doing it correctly? Are they doing it well? Do they need assistance?

Many years ago, we were very big on walk-around presentations. I still think there is huge value in this. My new salespeople had to endure a minimum of 2 weeks of daily heavy duty training before they would ever get to go on the floor and try and sell. Prior to going on the floor, they had to give me a complete walk-around presentation to my satisfaction. If they failed this, we went back to more training until they succeeded at it. Showing the product and the features and benefits to the buyer is a critical piece of the sales process. What happens here is very important. You get to see how they react, what interests them more than other parts and it helps you formulate a process that leads to a closed sale. You have to know your product to do this, but the good news is that you don't have to know everything. A good selection of highlights will do just fine. I want to see how the salesperson is doing in this process. I want them to be successful, so I am inspecting my expectations of them.

Insight #6: This was a lesson that took me a long time to learn, but once I got it, it changed my whole perspective. I finally learned that I could not manage results effectively, no matter how hard I tried, but I could manage activities very effectively. Sales is all about activity. If you're not talking to a prospect, there is no possibility of a sale. I finally got it. I do not have the power to manage results except through the effective use of activities that are designed to produce results.

I know that sounds so simple, but I still see so many trying to manage results. As a manager, I needed to stop thinking about the sale and start thinking about the prospect call, the presentation, the mail pieces, the way the lot looks. All these are activities and each has a priority. They are all important to the whole. So, for a commercial salesperson, I need to focus on assigning tasks. Maybe it is so many businesses in a certain area to contact in person, or on the phone. I want to be involved in what is said, what the approach is and even go along for a time and see that these things are being achieved. To just send them out there and hope they get it done is worthless. I guarantee it will produce poor results. You as a manager or even as a manager of yourself CAN manage activities and from the effective management of the activities, you will produce good results with quantity and quality. Managers should have a really good plan of how to do all of this. It will require management. It will produce results. Manage the activities, not the results. The results will take care of themselves.

This will be a key factor in finding good people. If they will do the activities and work with you, keep working with them. If they do not do the activities, give them a chance or two, but stop there and find another person. The best thing about this approach is that you do not hang on to people who will not do the work. You will know within about two weeks to a month at the most. With other methods, you might have a non-performer hanging on for 6 months or longer and wasting everyone's time. The interview and the hiring part is just a bare bones beginning. You won't know if you have good people until you get them involved in activities.

Insight #7: I've read all those interview questions. I've tried a lot of them, and frankly, I didn't notice a difference. My experience is that you get a feeling about people from listening to them talk and watching how they handle themselves. You can tell if someone has confidence in themselves or if they are shy and so on. Basically, just getting them to talk regardless of the questions is what's needed. What are your 5 and 10 year goals? What difference does it make? A lot of silly questions to me. Tell me about yourself. Just get them talking. Talking about themselves is a good place to pick up what you need to pick up. Trust your intuition and your judgement.

I know dealers where you have to take a battery of tests and so on. Hogwash. Time and money not well spent. I get the idea of trying to hire the right person for the right job, but what ever happened to good old fashioned verbal communication and feelings? I've tried the tests also, but they did not improve the results. The problem is this: there are so many people who are really good at interviews and that is their skill. There are many others who freak out on tests because they've carried that around, and yet they become super stars. You need a good manager--one who pays attention and is learned--then let them make the decisions. It doesn't matter about those 'systems' because the personal judgement of a good person when allowed will be superior in my opinion.

Some of the good people I have hired, I knew they were the right ones in about 10 seconds. The rest was drill. I've also missed some that were sheer perfection in the interview, but were the worst I've ever seen afterward. Give it your best shot. It will be good.

Insight #8: This is for you Dealers and General Managers. Let your managers make decisions. I've worked for a dealer where I could not make the final hiring decision for my own sales team. No matter how strong I felt about a person, if the GM or owner felt otherwise, I could not hire them. That is not only a slap in the face, but is counter-productive. If you don't trust your managers to do their job, get rid of them and find some you do trust. Stop micro-managing the process. When you do this, you are speaking clearly to your managers that you do not trust that they can make a good enough decision about who they have on their own team. You might as well get rid of your managers and do everything yourself. It is a terrible situation to try and be a good manager in. Get out of the way and let your team do what they need to do. You go do more important things. When I see GM's and owners like this, I instantly know that they are limiting themselves to a certain place because everything is in their total control. You should be learning as much from your team as they may learn from you. Here's a blog for you: control freaks.

More tomorrow in Part 3. . .

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