Archive for April, 2008


Management Rewards, Sales Management Abundancy 1 Comment »

Dear Manager,

You have all been in the situation (perhaps for the first time) of needing to hire someone. The hiring process challenges the emotions; the anxious moments of preparation, the elation of filling the position and, at times, the disappointment when it doesn’t work out.

One of my very first hires was for a sales associate position in Seattle, Washington. Jerry was an extremely nice man with recent sales experience, but most of his working years had been spent driving for United Parcel Service. After two weeks in the field, he came to me and said he’d seen all of his accounts, but was discouraged with their limited response. The position, he explained, was not right for him.

In two weeks, Jerry suggested he had visited in excess of two hundred accounts, and had come to his conclusion. I have often wondered if he double parked and left the engine running when he “called on” each store! While it was easy to be disappointed and critical of Jerry’s performance, it was not so much his fault for having failed as it was my fault for hiring the wrong person.

All individuals have a desire to succeed! No one intentionally fails, so it is your responsibility to hire the person with the capability to reach the success envisioned for them. There are any number of highly qualified individuals. You just have to believe that the right person will make him or herself known to you!

Patience is, perhaps, the most critical factor in a successful outcome. Realistically, you cannot plan to hire someone by the end of the week. In setting a hiring time table, you risk making your selection from what was the best of an allotted number of interviews, not from the best and most qualified candidates.

Be willing, and prepared, to resist the natural tendency to hire someone as quickly as possible. Be steadfast in your confidence that with time, patience, and a consistent effort, the “wonderful” candidate will become available. A vacant position, while difficult, is not nearly as painful as having hired the wrong person for the job.


Anyone can hire the proverbial warm body. There are, however, a few key principles that can enhance your chances of success in finding the most rewarding candidate.

Use your mind’s eye to imagine the type of person and qualities you are looking for. These may be qualities seen in other outstanding performers, or simply qualities you admire. This person does exist. Do not compromise these standards, whether it takes three interviews or thirty!

Begin each interview with a brief background and history of your company. Explain what you feel has contributed to your prior accomplishments, and the qualities you are looking for in a successful candidate. Be willing to share that your highest priority is to attain a superior candidate for this position. This approach does many things. It provides the interview with solid direction, lets the applicant know where your priorities are and allows the candidate to reflect on their own abilities to fulfill your requirements. They will then either rise to the occasion,or take themselves out.

Be patient as the applicant responds to you. Does this person seem to fully understand what you’ve said, or do their responses indicate they are either unaware or unable to expand upon your thoughts? Are the same things important to both of you? If you’re unsure, review your topics again to determine if the applicant maintains a thought process consistent with your objectives. If not, it’s time to look further.

More often than not, many qualified candidates can make a good first impression in an interview situations. It is human nature for an applicant to respond in a manner consistent with the needs of the employer. It can become a dance. How do you get beyond the surface to determine the true qualities of the individual?

Their body language told you they were somewhat uncomfortable at times. What made them nervous? The applicant often jumped into conversation before you were finished speaking. Was it out of enthusiasm, or a lack of self awareness? While seemingly minor, these issues could be an early indication of future concerns and problems. A second interview is an excellent opportunity to resolve any lingering doubts.

Use the second interview to put the applicant at ease. Take time to speak with them rather than at them. Let them know you are genuinely interested in getting to know them, as this is in both of your best interests. Focus your thoughts and questions on those areas of their personality that may concern you. This doesn’t have to be as painful as it sounds!

Remember the applicant who cut your sentences short? Discussing their /em>enthusiasm as a strength of an outgoing personality allows you to approach your concern in a positive way. Explain that you’ve sometimes found a person’s greatest strength can, in excess, also become their greatest weakness. Ask if their enthusiasm has ever been perceived as not listening, or being too talkative. Ask how they were able to adjust to the needs of the situation.

As the conversation develops, if they seem unaware, guarded or overly-sensitive, this is probably not the individual for you. If they seem receptive to this type of discussion, there is now every indication to proceed. In either case, you have the right to resolve your concerns, just as the applicant deserves the right to respond to them.

As you finalize your search, envision the applicant in a group of his or her peers, such as a sales meeting or trade show. Listen to your gut. A successful interview will give you a sensation of confidence in the individual. You feel that you know this person; you’re on a similar wave length. This clear, positive feeling seldom proves itself wrong, and can make your hiring decision obvious. Accept the fact that not all individuals are suited to fulfill each others needs.

Prior to offering a position to the individual I have chosen, I will often encourage the candidate to contact, as a reference, some of our other associates. This allows the candidate to learn more about our organization in a neutral setting. This process is a genuine confidence builder for anyone accepting a new position. You will also find that it allows both of you to begin a new relationship at “face value,” having been able to substantiate your previous conversations.

Patience in the hiring process is the key to a successful outcome. Learn to have confidence in your instincts. Dedicate yourself to finding those individuals who are best able to take advantage of the opportunity at hand. Never settle for second best!

Personal Regards,


INTERPERSONAL© is published by INTERPERSONALBIZ.COM, Keenan Longcor, Editor, ©2008. Duplication of this publication is permitted for both personal and business use. Excerpts may only be quoted with acknowledgment of INTERPERSONAL/INTERPERSONALBIZ.ORG as the source. For re-publication rights, please contact the editor at KEENAN@INTERPERSONALBIZ.COM


Management Rewards, Sales Management Abundancy No Comments »

Dear Manager

Truly, the backbone of any organization, and the key element of its ongoing success, is the ability of management to surround itself with outstanding field sales personnel. While this may sound obvious, it is only the sales force who can affect and respond to the day-to-day needs of an organization. As a manager, you can encourage, motivate and make an effort to stimulate sales. It is only the efforts of a very capable sales force that can affect change today.

As your organizations grow, the demands on your time require that you pursue only the most qualified candidates. The time previously devoted to developing and nurturing an individual may now be a luxury that is, realistically, no longer available to you. You must now rely more on a candidate’s given talents and previous training.

There are many ways to find those individuals who can bring success to your organization and make management more fulfilling. Word of mouth and referrals are approaches worth pursuing. There are qualified individuals, both within your industry and other industries, who can excel in the opportunity you are offering. Share with others whom you respect the qualifications you have established and the type of person who would interest you.

From personal experience, I would also offer a word of caution on this approach. I have, at times, been successful in hiring from within my own industry. I have also met applicants with poor training, their own sense of reality, and a resistance to being trained in a new arena. In other words, they may be carrying old baggage that you may not be able to overcome or wish to deal with.

Be objective when giving consideration to hiring a friend. If given the opportunity, could they realistically compete head to head with one of your most successful associates? If not, your decision is obvious. You have a responsibility to hire only the best. This is not only in your best interest, but that of the applicant and the future of your organization.

This approach also lends itself to hiring from a single applicant rather than from a group of applicants. Avoid the trap of a quick decision purely out of convenience. I have often found it more successful to evaluate “referred” individuals along with the applicants found through the advertising process.


In developing your ad, use adjectives that in a personal way reflect the qualities you are looking for. Consider using words such as outgoing, polished and wonderful. Your ad will stand out among the masses and be very appealing to those candidates who can fully understand these qualities. This type of ad reflects on you as an employer, showing your awareness and the value of these qualities. Also include a brief description of your industry, the position, and a list of skills or qualifications needed by the successful candidate.

When advertising for a commissioned sales position in a smaller region, consider referencing the position as Part/Full Time. This allows the applicant to understand the compensation may be less than that of a fully developed territory. This should eliminate applicants with very high expectations and encourage applicants with other forms of sustaining income.

Place your ad in key editions of the newspaper. Do not become discouraged if a portion of the resumes you receive are poorly written, the applicants unqualified, or they simply haven’t a clue how to get your attention. Focus on applicants who have included a personal letter and have shown an ability to reflect and expand upon the information in your ad. These are the individuals who have actually read your ad and feel confident expressing themselves. Those perceptive enough to draw on one of your key elements, such as wonderful individual, and can reflect on this in relationship to themselves should, in all cases, be considered further.

The single greatest asset an applicant can bring to your organization is a personal interest in your industry and the products you promote. These individuals often become almost animated in discussions of your products. Enthusiasm is always sincere and is infectious at all levels of a sales presentation.

You may wish to screen your applicants further before beginning the interview process. I send out a brief questionnaire for initial applicants that has proven valuable in revealing more about these candidates. The questions include:

1. What are your strongest skills?
2. What interests you about our industry and the service we provide?
3. Do you handle responsibility well; can you take the initiative?
4. How do you handle problems?
5. Can you have fun with your work?

These fairly broad topics are provided on a single sheet, with only limited space for response. In a letter sent with the questionnaire, state your initial interest in their resume, and your desire to gain additional information. Encourage their response, letting them know that this is not a test. There are no right or wrong answers.

This process allows you to go beyond the resume and begins to provide applicants with an awareness of your company and its priorities. While the answers to these questions may seem obvious, I have gained valuable insight, and have often received favorable comments from the applicants for the professional nature of this effort.

Preliminary phone interviews are another valuable tool in further defining the qualities of your potential candidates. Phone voice, enthusiasm, and even attitude, can often be determined with a few minutes on the phone. My assistant often makes these calls, providing the listener with a more casual approach than a formal interview. Use this opportunity to put the candidate at ease, perhaps discussing a few of their personal interests and hobbies. Explain more about the position, its requirements, and its form of compensation. Try to gain a further understanding about them and a sense of their current priorities and direction. Schedule interviews with those who pique your interest and show a knowledgeable, enthusiastic response to your conversation.

A personal interest in your industry, strong awareness and genuine enthusiasm for your product are essential to a sales associate’s success. This, along with a quiet confidence, will sustain them through the difficult early weeks of a new position.

As you begin your interviews remember, as a manager, the success of your associates or employees must come first. You cannot succeed until they have succeeded. The investment of time and preparation in selecting prospective associates or employees is small compared to the years of potential success the right individual will bring to your organization.

Editors note: I will continue with this topic in the next issue with a review of “ WHAT IT TAKES TO HIRE THE BEST “

Personal Regards,


INTERPERSONAL© is published by INTERPERSONALBIZ.COM, Keenan Longcor, Editor, ©2008. Duplication of this publication is permitted for both personal and business use. Excerpts may only be quoted with acknowledgment of INTERPERSONAL/INTERPERSONALBIZ.ORG as the source. For re-publication rights, please contact the editor at KEENAN@INTERPERSONALBIZ.COM