Sales Management Challenges: 5 of 6 - Gauging experience as you hire your Team

The poet Ralph Waldo Emerson is quoted as having said, "The years teach much which the days never know."

In general, I agree. HOWEVER, it depends what kind of education is happening during those years.

I'd like to share the benefits of my 30-year experience in sales and marketing with you. This series of blogs tackles 6 of the top sales challenges with sound advice and a practical 'do today' tip.

Sales Challenge #5: How to measure the experience of your team

10 years experience or 1 year's experience used 10 times?

When I learned to sell, you went to boot camp for two weeks, then another two weeks--and that was just for the basics.

You started off as a rookie trainee sales person, then worked your way through to being a sales manager (usually via new business sales, account management, senior sales, major account sales, and national account management).

ONLY THEN, as an accomplished sales and sales management professional, might you get a promotion to dealer / channel sales.

Often nowadays, many rookie sales folk start in dealer / channel sales with barely any training, except product features and functions (which they are misguidedly told are benefits). They don't really have the experience that the job they have been doing demands but in a buoyant market, with an 'in demand' product or service, they have gotten away with it.

So what am I driving at here?  Well, if you are not careful, it's very easy to hire people who look good on paper but, in reality, don't actually have the experience you are looking for to expertly fill the positions.

Then you are in the trap of what seems to be one of the biggest headaches in recruitment these days--candidates interview well and fail in their roles.

When recruiting or promoting, check on your candidate's or team's real skills and experience:

  • Have they really got 10 years of sales experience, or have they got one year's experience they have used 10 times?

  • Did they really do that big deal on their own or were they "on the team that did the deal"?

The current buoyant employment market means that good people get snapped up quickly. Our need to find employees encourages us to hire quickly, without doing a thorough background check on our candidates. This is compounded by recruiters pushing us to rush into a decision so we don't "miss out on this great salesperson".

Challenging as it may be, we need to find more time to interview / check out our candidates. We need to take references and actually contact them. We can also capitalize on social media--usually, you know someone who knows someone who knows your candidate.

The interview is one of the best opportunities to really get to know the person sitting before you. Make your interview process a rigorous one. For example, build a practical exercise into the process such as a recap of their 1st 90 days as a salesperson or a presentation on your major competitor. If you want an info paper that will give you more tips on how to do that effectively, email or call me.

Keep your #1 goal in mind: you are trying to gauge whether your candidate has 10 years experience or 1 year's experience used 10 times. In other words, you are looking for evidence of their REAL "individual contributor" experience.

Do-today Tip #5: work with HR to develop a rigorous interview process.

Next time, we'll take a look at how to choose the appropriate skill set when you are hiring / building the team.

Read more:
How to Create Clearly Defined Sales Processes and Sales Objectives
How to Build the Right Team
Where are you on the Sales Management Continuum?
Motivating your Team

What measuring tools are you using to assess the experience of your team members? Looking for more info about this issue? Leave me a comment or a question for a personal answer.

Posted in Sales Management. Tagged as fail in role, interviewing, recruiting, sales experience, sales leadership, sales management.

Sales Management Challenges: 4 of 6 - Motivating your Team

Quiz time: How 'engaged' (passionate/enthusiastic about their work) are the members of your sales team?

If they are like today's U.S. workers, then about half of them (51%) are not engaged and almost one fifth (18%) are actively disengaged.

I'd like to share the benefits of my 30-year experience in sales and marketing with you. This series of blogs tackles 6 of the top sales challenges with sound advice and a practical 'do today' tip.

Sales Challenge #4: Motivating your team

Being in the sales business I have focussed this blog on sales people but actually the information is valid for any team, in any business or role.

Motivation is the skill of getting people to do willingly and well the things that need to be done.

Motivation ceases and de-motivation kicks in when sales people feel compelled to surrender to a request.

Salespeople are not only motivated by money. In fact, there frequently comes a point in many sales careers when money is nowhere near the top of the motivators list.

Never has this been truer than now that "Millennials" are entering the sales profession. We get to hear a lot of negative comments about their attitudes in the working environment.  But have you ever stopped to think: maybe it's not them, it's us?  Typically, we find that most millennials bring bright, vibrant, and creative ideas along to the workplace - if only you can motivate them to do so.  Contrary to what we think, EVEN in sales, it's not always the commission check that provides the incentive. Having your ideas used is very satisfying and thus, a super motivator - being a contributor is certainly high on most millennials' lists of what they want from a job.

So, what do you need to take into consideration when motivating your people?

Successful [sales] management requires the manager to perform a balancing act with her/his time between the team, the individual, and the task (in this case where the task is selling):

  • Focus on the team and the task and the individual gets neglected.

  • Focus on the task and the team and the individual gets neglected.

  • Focus on the individual to the detriment of the team and the task.    


As a manager, you need to make sure you are balancing the needs of the team, the task, and the individuals as well as putting motivators in place (and trying to remove the de-motivators) that will resonate specifically with your people.

You need to get to understand the personal individual motivations of your team (and your manager).  I find that for the sake of expediency, if you distill all the common workplace/industrial motivation theories (Maslow, Herzberg, McGregor, FW Taylor, et al.) you get 5 traits you can work with quite  easily: Achievement, Recognition, Finance, Job Content, Personal Needs.

Do-today Tip #4: Spend some time finding out what motivates your team. Make sure you understand what motivates and de-motivates the individuals on your sales team--ask them!  Undertake formally or informally a motivation audit (click here for a simple example to get you started).

Next time, we'll take a look at how to assess the real experience level of your team.

Read more:
How to Create Clearly Defined Sales Processes and Sales Objectives
How to Build the Right Team
How to Choose the Correct Spot on the Sales Management Continuum

What carrots and sticks are you using to motivate your team? Got a question I can help with? Our online community looks forward to reading your comment and helping with your question.

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