Hire for potential, retain through training, and charge with autonomy
HR executives recruit candidates based on the accomplishments they see on their resumes. And they fail so miserably because it relies on the flawed assumption that people who have done well in the past would do equally well or better in the future. Accomplishments are previous results. On the other hand, candidates who have been hired without any accomplishments but purely because the CEO or the top management believed in him or her, have proven to succeed so spectacularly. Why? The answer is potential.
Potential is the ability to adapt to increasingly complex roles and environments. After hiring the high potentials, continuously keep them in a stimulating environment under which they thrive through leadership programs. Also, give them decision-making autonomy in their respective areas of leadership. So, the human resources professionals need a complete retraining that will offer an extraordinary opportunity for the company to exploit the human assets. The new skills they require are the following:
- Hiring: How to spot potential
- Retaining: Develop effective leadership-developing programs
- Charging: Help the best get better by giving them autonomy
Let us examine them one by one.
Candidates must have not only the right skills but also the potential to learn new ones. Competency-based appointments are increasingly becoming insufficient. That is because what makes someone successful today in a particular role under certain circumstances might not tomorrow because of the ever-changing competitive environment, the dynamic company strategy and the need to manage and work with a different group of colleagues. What is required is the potential of the candidate to fit into future roles. Unfortunately, a candidate’s potential is much harder to discern than competence. Consider Egon Zehnder who developed and refined an empirically validated model over two decades with a predictive accuracy of 85%. In conclusion, this model predicts potential based on five indicators:
- Motivation: pursuit of challenging goals
- Curiosity: explore new ideas and avenues
- Insight: see connections where others do not
- Engagement: with their work and colleagues
- Determination: overcome setbacks and obstacles
Perhaps the CEOs who took a leap of faith and hired a candidate who did not have any past accomplishments to show for must have subconsciously seen all the above qualities in him or her. They were competent people with potential. Sadly, most organizations have HR professionals who kill off good candidates and endorse bad ones. The best interviewers’ assessments and the right kind of hiring can vastly improve the odds.
So, of what are high potentials made?
The superior level of performance of high potentials is consistent in a variety of circumstances and settings. Moreover, they have a high propensity to grow and succeed faster and more efficiently than their co-workers. They are three distinct qualities in high-achievers. They are broadly categorized as performance, behavior, and X-factors as illustrated in the table below.
|Deliver results strongly – credibly
||Recognize that action counts
||A drive to excel
|Master new types of expertise
||Exhibit behavior that reflects the culture of their companies
||A catalytic learning capability
|Perform with distinction with a broad range of stakeholders
||Demonstrate company values in an exemplary manner
||An enterprising spirit
|Competence not at the expense of someone else
||Be a role model and teacher
After hiring the real high potentials, focus on keeping them not only because of the tendency to fall off voluntarily but also because the talent market is very tight. Make sure that the candidates live up to the high potential spotted in them by offering them future leadership assignments. Companies have targeted leadership development opportunities, job rotations, stretch assignments, and executive programs designed to nurture high-achieving individuals. They push their high-achievers up a straight ladder toward bigger budgets, bigger jobs, and a larger team. These measures have managed to continue their growth but not unleash their ultimate potential. According to a research 40% of internal job moves by “high potentials” have failed because of the following flawed assumptions of senior managers.
- Assumed that high potentials are highly engaged
- Equated current high performance with future potential
- Delegated down the management of top talent
- Shielded rising stars from early derailment
- Expected star employees to share the pain
- Failed to link the stars to corporate strategy
A disciplined approach is needed. Leadership development initiatives should reflect the needs of the rising stars and align with organizational goals. Make sure that the job rotations and relevant stretch assignments they are getting suit their temperaments and aptitudes.
Hiring for potentials and providing them with the proper training is not the end of it. Keeping them in the company without the competitors luring them away is another challenge. There are some proven strategies that management can adopt to keep the top potentials who have attended the leadership program engaged, motivated and driven. They need to reinforce and explicitly express that the “high potential” title is not only an acknowledgment of past accomplishment but also of future potential. Also, give them autonomy in the following four “T” dimensions: Task, Time, Team, Technique
We cannot predict the competencies and skills needed to succeed in the future because of the dynamic nature of geopolitics, business environment, competitive landscape and the tight talent market. It is, therefore, imperative to hire and nurture people with the highest potential and not just those who have proved their abilities in the past. That doesn’t mean forgetting factors like intelligence, experience, specific competencies, performance, and leadership skills. But the implication is that companies should hire competent people with potential. Recognize their competence and potential by enrolling them in an executive development program. And finally, cultivate a sense of ownership in them by giving them autonomy in the decision-making. Thus, hiring for potential, retaining them at every level of the organization, and charging them by giving them independence are the key success factors of the most admired companies in the world.
You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work back toward the technology – not the other way around.
Any product that needs a manual to work is broken.
Quality in a product or service is not what the supplier puts in. it is what the customer gets out and is willing to pay for. A product is not quality because it is hard to make and costs a lot of money, as manufacturers typically believe.
A product is something made in a factory; a brand is something that is bought by the customer. A product can be copied by a competitor; a brand is unique. A product can be quickly outdated; a successful brand is timeless.
Great design will not sell an inferior product, but it will enable a great product to achieve its maximum potential.
When the product is right, you don’t have to be a great Marketer.
Don’t find customers for your products, find products for your customers.
Good products can be sold by honest advertising. If you don’t think the product is good, you have no business to be advertising it.
If you believe your product or service can fulfill a true need, it’s your moral obligation to sell it.
Happiness is not a goal; it is a by-product.
You cannot inspect quality into the product; it is already there.
According to this view, democracy is a product of western culture, and it cannot be applied to the Middle East which has a different cultural, religious, sociological and historical background.
Divorce is a by-product of the fact that maybe the nuclear unit is gone.
My feeling about work is it’s much more about the experience of doing is than the end product. Sometimes things that are really great and make lots of money are miserable to make, and vice versa.
A market is never saturated with a good product, but it is very quickly saturated with a bad one.
I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions.
The only way to advertise is by not focusing on the product.
I hate bring thought of as a product.
If you don’t sell, it’s not the product that’s wrong, it’s you.
Product management really is the fusion between technology, what engineers do and the business side.
The sales department isn’t the whole company, but the whole company better be the sales department.
Alan Kay’s famous aphorism is that perspective is worth 80 IQ points. An innovative insight is not the product of an individual’s brilliance. It’s not as if innovators’ heads are wired in different ways. Innovation typically comes from looking at the world through a slightly different lens
Shareholder value is a result, not a strategy … Your main constituencies are your employees, your customers and your products.
I already am a product
Business is not just doing deals; business is having great products, doing great engineering, and providing tremendous service to customers. Finally, business is a cobweb of human relationships.
I strongly believe that missionaries make better products. They care more. For a missionary, it’s not just about the business. There has to be a business, and the business has to make sense, but that’s not why you do it. You do it because you have something that motivates you.
We experiment endlessly, with new products, new companies and new marketing. A successful business the emphasis is on experiment and development, ideas are the lifeblood of business.
A disruptive innovation is a technologically simple innovation in the form of a product, service, or business model that takes root in a tier of the market that is unattractive to the established leaders in an industry.
Have you listened to the radio lately? Have you heard the canned, frozen and processed product being dished up to the world as American popular music today?
When you are having fun, and creating something you love, it shows in the product. So, when a woman is sifting through a rack of clothes, somehow that piece of clothing that you had so much fun designing speaks to her; she responds to it and buys it. I believe you can actually transfer that energy to material things as you’re creating them.
Mitt – what I speak to Mitt Romney about is jobs. What I speak to Mitt Romney about is China, because he’s got a great view on China and how they’re trying to destroy our country by taking our jobs and making our product and manipulating their currency, so that it makes it almost impossible for our companies to compete.
Most businesses think that product is the most important thing, but without great leadership, mission and a team that deliver results at a high level, even the best product won’t make a company successful.
I don’t go cheap on anything, but I’m not a shopper. If I want something, I look at it, decide what it is, but it will usually be the best product. I’ve got a pair of loafers that I still wear that I got in 1957.
Price is rarely the most important thing. A cheap product might sell some units. Somebody gets it home and they feel great when they pay the money, but then they get it home and use it and the joy is gone.
We have our factory, which is called a stage. We make a product, we color it, we title it and we ship it out in cans.
The similarity between a Sales Call and a job interview.
It was Tuesday morning, it was beautiful weather, I was sitting in my car for my first sales call of the day. I was looking forward to it, but I was also nervous. Intentional, full of thoughts on how the conversation would run, I went inside. I had a good first impression and a mission.
I looked straight at the man, gave him a firm handshake and after an introduction we started the conversation. Fortunately, I received many easy questions, that gave me a lot of confidence in our conversation. I think he was profiling me as a good conversation partner.
I knew it…. I was going to score!!!!
Time passed by and before I knew it my prospect told me that the time running out. He had a tight schedule that day. Of course, at the end of the conversation, I was wondering if I made a good impression. And as I expected … .. he had a very good impression. And told me it was a very good conversation.
After 3 days, I received a phone call. Unfortunately, I did not match the profile. And this company went on with another candidate ……..
Sales professionals convince themselves that they could be anyone. They understand that rejection is not directed at them personally. Instead, rejection can come from numerous reasons having nothing to do with them: improper timing, bad experience with previous sales reps, business conditions, economic challenges, and even moods. None of which gatekeepers or even decision makers will tell you. They simply say no. No problem.
In case of a job interview, it is about yourself. You are employed as entrepreneur in a large company. The cocktail of chemistry and the activation of neurons make it much more exciting for you.
As a Sales Manager with a team of for example 10 representatives, you know one thing for sure. People are leaving, so you will have to hire new people. Ambitious salesmen change jobs between 1 and 4 years. This means that as Sales Manager you have to start the recruitment process every year. (Sometimes I wonder if this should not be a continuous process, but unfortunately you do not always have this option).
In the recruitment pipeline you have (if you are lucky) between 5 or 10 candidates and 1 or more conversations with each before you can get a possible hire. In fact, as sales manager, you have at least 20 interviews a year.
One of the fascinating subjects in the dozens of job interview talks I have been able to take over the past few years, is the similarity between a sales conversation and a job interview. What is the difference between selling a product or service versus selling yourself as a person? Do you think about that? Is it the new shirt you bought to look sharp? Or the necktie you never usually wear?
Let’s see what the similarities between sales call and a job interview are.
As a salesmen in your company you can regularly shuffle the many value propositions you’ve written together with the marketing department. But what do you actually deliver? What are your Unique Selling Points? What kind of results did you book in your career? What has your contribution been in the result? Often, we have the answers in a sales conversation ready before the customer requests. In a job interview, they need to ask. So be prepared!
“Find the Customers that Fits you the best” You often hear the Sales Manager shouting in a team meeting. Everyone wants a pipeline where you can add value to every customer. What about your application pipeline? Are these companies where you can add value? And what value could you add?
You always prepare a sales call. You look at the website. You are looking for your prospects profiles (Facebook and LinkedIn-In). You look at the vision and mission of the company and the match between your company and your prospect. We are all people, and are always happy to find a connection. When did you last check your interviewer’s Facebook profile?
Job description as a tender?
One of the benefits of a job application is the job description, in which you can find part of the pain of your future client. It’s just like a pre-selection tender. In a tender process, you always make your proposal to fit so that the client recognizes your strengths. Why should your Curriculum Vitae be different?
No doubt you have had many job interview experiences, as described at the beginning of this post. It’s a in depth questioning from the other side of the table, and you’re constantly switching to get the right answers. After all, this conversation is much more important than a normal sales conversation anyway? At the end of the conversation you have a great feeling because they were very interested in you! DUHHHH …….
80% of your job interview comes from the preparation, just like a sales call.
Ask questions that matter, be curious, and discover the real pain of the company. Discover where and when your personal Unique Selling Points can be told best.
Some of the additional benefits are:
Your future employer (client) is speaking 70%, giving him a great conversation experience.
You are less likely to speak, so the chances are small that you can say something stupid.
You get the lead in the conversation, most HR interviewers are not even aware of this.
You’ll soon find out if this business suits you. That’s 50% of the deal anyway?
Having control of your emotions is very difficult, but as real sales professionals, the components above in your sales process are nevertheless like a walk in the park for a good sales professional right?
As I remember my first conversations, and with the knowledge of now, I can happily think of it with a smile.
And do you already have a smile on your face?
A sale is a process that takes one closer to the next step until you cross the line marked red. And that is when you complete a sale. Until then it is a dance between the prospect and the Sales Professional. So what are the steps involved in making the final sale? How does Sales Professional figure when to move on to the next step? Here we give you some commonly required steps that would ensure that you get a reasonably good chance of making the final sale.
Qualify your prospects
In sales, it is essential to moderate the customers because it can save you an enormous amount of time. Qualifying the prospects is best explained using the acronym ADD where A stands for Affordability, the first D stands for Desire, and the second D stands for Decision-maker. Regarding affordability, the question we need to ask is can this prospect afford our product. Secondly, does this prospect have enough desire and be motivated to buy our product. And finally, are we talking to the decision-maker or does somebody else make the decisions for the candidate on their behalf in which case we need to ensure that the concerned decision-maker attends the sales meeting.
Entice through convincing
Once you have recognized the decision-maker and had an opportunity to lay down the basics, it is time to entice them with perks. These perks would make their decision-making that much easier. They are a free offering to go along with the final sale that is complementary to the product, absolutely easy payment terms, and a test sampling of the product. It may look like hand-holding the prospects, but that is precisely the objective. The onus is on the Professionals to convince them enough to make the sale.
Commitment in Action
Having made the prospects sample the product, the next thing to do is get them to take some action. The act serves as psychological commitment and is a clear indication that they are willing to possess the product. Willingness to own the product helps accelerate the sales process to a great extent. Without writing down the desire to own the product, it is just a dream. When they have put it in black and white, in this case filling out and signing a form, it triggers off a chain of events that make the dream come to fruition.
Follow-up for payments
Payments are a crucial part of sales. People have a tendency to delay payments. Sales have a role to play in pushing the prospects to make payments as fast as possible. One way is to ask them to make a partial deposit to secure the booking. The other way is to make it easy for them to make the payments. Payment follow-up is like conveying a message. And for a message sent to be effective, it has to be transmitted at least three times in different formats – Conversation, Email, and Reminder.
Eliminate buyers remorse
The sale is not complete until the refund period expires. After the sale, there is a certain grace period within which time the customer is entitled to claim for a refund. It is because once the product is in the hands of the client, buyers’ remorse kicks in and they start doubting as to whether the purchase was necessary or not. Sales people should try and understand the reason behind the guilt and try to alleviate it. Invite them for cocktails, having a conversation or simply asking for referrals can do the trick.
The Sales & Marketing Executives International Club in Hong Kong has successfully created the 49th annual Distinguished Sales Award program which will culminate in a gala awards banquet at the Hong Kong Convention Center on Friday, June 16, 2017.
On behalf of the Board of Directors of Sales & Marketing Executives International and all of our members around the world, we extend sincere congratulations to the Sales and Marketing Executives International Club of Hong Kong on a successful 49th Distinguished Salesperson Award Presentation Ceremony.
A special congratulation goes to each of the recipients of the Distinguished Salesperson Award and Outstanding Young Salesperson Award. Through their professionalism, determination and commitment to excellence, each of the awardees has demonstrated the qualities of a winner. Winning in today’s competitive marketplace requires global sophistication. This ceremony honours the achievement of outstanding sales professionals who recognize that their value to the marketplace is enhanced by striving to consistently perform at the high standards that are recognized and applauded around the world.
Each of the awardees of this programme has learned “To be Different – To be Outstanding” by being guided by their professional training and inner conscience in sales and marketing in order to thrive as a professional. Each awardee has proven their mettle in sales and marketing basic fundamentals include relationship building, customer centric service, high ethical standards and by having a passion for professionalism.
Sales and Marketing Executives International is a professional association of thousands of members worldwide who make a positive impact on our global economy by adhering to ethical marketing standards, sharing knowledge and through their commitment to continuing education.
We encourage each of the award recipients to continue their focus on fundamentals, balancing their business decision making with sound economic and ethical business practices and with a pledge to make lifelong learning a key to sustained personal growth and professionalism.
Thank you to the Hong Kong Management Association and the Sales & Marketing Executives International Club of Hong Kong for contributing to SMEI’s goal for a better standard of living for all through better selling.
Salesforce.com employed guerrilla marketing tactics early on. Budding entrepreneurs all over the world have elegant and innovative ideas. However, they struggle with the obstacles they face in their journey to turn their business into a commercial success. Worse still, each one thinks that they are alone in their fights. However, every entrepreneur goes through the same pain points. The story of Salesforce.com provides some valuable lessons that start-ups can learn. Although they are practical, it requires a mindset that embraces a radical approach to doing business. It that departs sharply from the more traditional one. Study them carefully and customize it for your businesses.
Stand out with a purpose
In 2000, at the salesforce.com launch party in San Francisco at the Regency Theatre, what stood out was the theme about waging war against the traditional way of delivering software services. They turned the lowest level of the theater into an inferno with actors locked up inside cages playing captured and frustrated enterprise salespeople. They were screaming, “Help, get me out,” “Sign this million-dollar license agreement. I need to make my quota!” etc. After the more than fifteen hundred attendees had worked their way through this hell, they went to the top floor. The place represented heaven where there was music, light and finally salesforce.com. There they obtain Nirvana.
The End of Software Campaign was the name of the party. On the morning of that day at the Siebel User Group Conference at the Moscone Center Salesforce.com sent hired actors. Their job was to pretend to be TV crew from a local station. They also sent protestors to picket the conference. Every person who went into the meeting were given an invitation to the salesforce.com launch party that night. Although the police arrived immediately, their presence only fanned the flames as the protestors were there legally.
PR Week recognized this End of Software Campaign as the “Hi-Tech Campaign of the Year”. Within two weeks around one thousand organizations signed up for the service. By daring to be different than the conventional way salesforce.com was able to get the much-needed press coverage at nil cost and reach out to the target market which was the end-users rather than the business enterprises and large corporations.
Aim for potential end users
Salesforce’s City Tour Program built Street Teams that got customers selling for the company on a local level. Each City Tour stop had a keynote address. Marc Benioff, the founder of Salesforce.com, spoke at each event followed by a live demo. There was also some time dedicated for questions.
In every City, the customers were eager to share their stories about their experiences using the software. This City Tour frenzy morphed into a movement. Salesforce.com contacted end-users in advance of the events, and most were eager to participate. Salesforce.com started to post blown up pictures of their customers at events and other marketing materials. Their companies acknowledged these employees’ success since it contributed immensely to the bottom line and they climbed the corporate ladder faster than otherwise would have been possible. Ads started appearing on job sites and soon “implementing salesforce.com” became a differentiating skill that set the candidates apart. It became a skill that employers sought out highly in sales professionals.
Salesforce.com evolves through a process called “intelligent reaction” – a process that involves making minor upgrades every week and constant releases incorporating real-time feedback from the end-users. The phenomenon, as they put it, means going where the business takes them rather than predicting the future trends without any inputs from the customers. It is, in essence, engaging the end-user as an active participant in the evolution of the company. In their early growth, salesforce.com built an online community through forums, blogs and chat sessions that have been emulated by many other companies since then.
Vulture and not venture capital
Raising money at the initial stage of the business evolution was no easy task for salesforce.com. It was an uphill battle. During the frothy dot-com era, Salesforce turned to the venture capitalists (VC) with their cold pitch for investment. When VC after VC turned them down, they turned to the age-old adage of 3F – friends, family, and fools – in other words, vulture-capitalists to raise capital for their start-up. This alternative financing model turned out to be a winning funding strategy that brought the investors exceptional returns in a short time. Subsequently, it attracted a steady stream of potential investors within a very short period. And the VCs regretted their decision not to believe in the company.
The journey of Salesforce thus began with a purpose to do enterprise software differently. By taking advantage of the enormous opportunities of the Internet in an industry known as Cloud Computing that was growing leaps and bounds at that time, Salesforce.com was able to deliver enterprise applications cheaply through a website. It started off in 1999 in a small rented apartment with three developers and a few computers. Ten years later the company morphed into a $1 billion company with a few thousand employees. Salesforce not only managed to survive the dot-com crash of 2001 but also grew to become the world’s largest growing software company in less than a decade.
Lessons for startups
The End of Software type of launch party may not be a possible thing for every start-up company due to many restrictions. Friends and family may not believe in and invest in a concept that resides just in the head of an aspiring business person. But the implication is that by leveraging a guerilla tactic and bringing on board well-wishers an entrepreneur with a can-do-attitude can take the company to soaring heights. The idea is not to copy and paste the ideas illustrated here but to borrow ideas and adapt them with some modifications depending on the nature of the business, the local culture and the needs of the end-users. Uniqueness within the norm is of the essence here.
Photo Credit: Daria Nepriakhina