PRINCETON, N.J.--()--Despite the current U.S. unemployment rate of over eight percent, one out of every two U.S. employers are struggling to fill mission-critical jobs, including sales positions.1 What’s wrong with this picture? According to the authors of a new book, companies are overlooking the best candidates for these sales roles, and using selection criteria that are out of date and just plain wrong.
“Consultative selling is a unique combination of four distinct skills. And they all need to be equally strong and to blend into each other seamlessly. It starts with being able to build relationships, to connect with your clients, to establish trust, and to create new openings and new possibilities.”
This must-read book, the second edition of How to Hire and Develop Your Next Top Performer: The Qualities that Make Salespeople Great, by Herb Greenberg, Ph.D. and Patrick Sweeney, shows these organizations how to turn this situation around. Updated at the request of publisher McGraw-Hill, the book begins by addressing the seismic changes, such as widespread use of the Internet and social media, which have broken down business barriers, increased customer empowerment, and made old ways of selling obsolete. Unlike twelve years ago, when the first edition of How to Hire was released, today’s buyers “come to the table” with much of their research already complete, eliminating their need to turn to a salesperson for it.
“Companies that look for sales reps who can spew out information that’s already online might as well declare bankruptcy now,” said Mr. Sweeney. “The future belongs to consultative salespeople who can contribute unexpected and valuable insights to help clients solve - and even identify – problems. Organizations that want to stay relevant should be chasing after people with these strengths before their competitors do.”
The book helps companies to spot the qualities that set these new consultative sales professionals apart, set realistic coaching goals and understand the psychology of “A” players to give them what they need to succeed. There are real-world insights into these issues throughout How to Hire from dozens of successful sales executives such as Tom Gartland, president, North America of Avis Budget Group, who shares: “By developing a thorough understanding of the unique blend of personality qualities that distinguish our top performers, we created a blueprint for bringing new people into the organization.” This commitment has created an extremely attractive culture for recruiting and retaining top sales talent.
Mark Dennis, vice president of sales and marketing for Veolia Environmental Services, discusses his revamped coaching approach: “We started by developing a clear sense of individual sales reps’ potential, then mapping it to their performance. The key was to work with the manager and the rep to improve the level of communication and performance in a systematic way.”
Urges Patrick Sweeney: “Spend more time with your ‘A’ players – because they want to hear from you. Your attention will keep them engaged, knowing that they’re valued. And they’ll be much less likely to start looking for greener pastures.” John Beattie, former senior vice president of human resources for GMAC Insurance, found this out when he got a call from one of his best performers, telling him she was quitting. Her reason? She couldn’t get any of John’s time. Luckily, he was able to persuade her to stay while he turned the situation around, but he regards that as his wake-up call.
Between social media and corporate websites, salespeople can find all they need to start meaningful conversations with their prospects. This instant access to information has arrived not a moment too soon to help address the immediate needs of most prospects and clients, according to Colleen Aylward, author and the founder of recruiting firm Devon James Associates, who says: “One of the things about this economy is that executives are in a much more immediate frame of mind than they have been for a long, long time. So it is important [for salespeople to] understand that urgency.” The future belongs to salespeople who can thoroughly understand, embrace, and take advantage of technology to enhance their relationships with their customers.
So, how do hiring managers determine which candidates can succeed? Herb Greenberg, creator of the Caliper Profile, which for 50 years has been leveraged by thousands of companies for hiring and developing a top-notch sales force, notes: “When assessing prospects, rather than relying too heavily on prior experience, hiring managers must consider a candidate’s potential and understand their strengths in order to produce an effective job match.”
Alyson Brandt, executive vice president, general manager Americas for Forum, said that from her perspective, “Consultative selling is a unique combination of four distinct skills. And they all need to be equally strong and to blend into each other seamlessly. It starts with being able to build relationships, to connect with your clients, to establish trust, and to create new openings and new possibilities.”
Corporate managers and others who want to improve their success in hiring and developing a top-notch sales team are welcome to order the book at Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com. More information, including excerpts, is available at www.calipercorp.com/how-to-hire-and-develop-your-next-top-performer/. The book is also available at fine bookstores everywhere. Journalists who would like to interview the authors should contact Ariane Doud, Warner Communications, at firstname.lastname@example.org, 978-283-2674.
1. Manpower Group 2012 Talent Shortage Survey, May 29, 2012
Caliper is a leading human capital management assessment and development firm. For over 50 years, Caliper has helped over 28,000 organizations globally improve every aspect of managing their talent. Starting with accurate, objective insights that Caliper consultants gain from the proprietary Caliper Profile, the company delivers tangible improvements in the performance of individuals and the organizations for which they work. Caliper Founder and CEO Herb Greenberg, Ph.D., developed the Caliper Profile, which has assessed the potential of more than 3.5 million applicants and employees. Dr. Greenberg and Patrick Sweeney, President of Caliper are the authors of the New York Times bestseller, "Succeed on Your Own Terms" and "How to Hire & Develop Your Next Top Performer,” a second edition of which is releasing this September. For more information visit www.calipercorp.com.