I got a lot of response from a prior post you can find here on the danger of hiring seasoned vets.
As you can imagine, most of that email was from seasoned vets.
So I’m going to stand by my initial post yet deliver some caveats to that:
What Is the Track Record?
1. If a sales veteran has a track record of learning and adapting their skill set to the current reality, that’s beautiful.
In other words, the 55-year-old person who comes to the VP of sales for a job and you look at his LinkedIn profile and it is fully filled out with a video and a well-written bio – and has meaningful endorsements and they have joined groups that will help them grow their skills, awesome! Give him a shot.
Contributing Content To The Cause
2. Secondly, if the seasoned vet has her own blog she contributes to on a frequent basis and has a portfolio of some of her work on it along with links to her Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts, then you might have something. Sales vets who seize the power of the new technology are willing to adapt it for her use – get her on the phone. Give her a shot.
Did They Do Research?
3. If you decide to interview a seasoned vet and they come to the interview having explored your website, full of questions about your market and model, and have a vibe that they take care of themselves both physically and emotionally, let ‘er rip!
On the other hand, if they use the standard wisecracks, are disheveled in their appearance and don’t bring paper with them to the interview, or ask no questions about your goals and your visions and your objectives and your problems, end the interview quickly. They’re not changing. They may tell you what you want to hear, but let your instincts guide you.
Once again, I am not against seasoned vets. I am against people who show up who haven’t learned a new thing in the last 10 years – and who expect to be successful in a job that requires all the skills they aren’t good at.
Politically incorrect? Of course it is. But it’s true.
Think of how many sales books, cassettes, and podcasts there are and yet the selling skills of American salespeople are still inadequate.
Is it possible that no one has really taught us how to learn these aforementioned selling skills? I think so.
There is one easy and profoundly effective way to learn any kind of skill and that is to break it into sub-skills.
For example, in sales you must learn the skill of prospecting for new business. You can’t just go learn that skill though in a two-hour seminar because it requires many, many subsets of other skills that you must learn.
For example, you must learn the skill of “Positioning.” You must learn the sub-skill of creating a safe environment so the prospect doesn’t lie to you. You must learn the skill of getting invited in (instead of begging to get in).
And you must be good at the sub-skill of delivering your message in a way that causes someone to want to hear more about it. That one right there is what trips most people up.
Do you want more sub-skills?
What about the inner game skill of detachment? If you get too needy and hungry and desperate for a sale when you’re calling a prospect, do you not think that comes through to them? If you’re detached and feeling abundant about the chances for your future, you take on a more relaxed tone which allows the prospect to relax.
My recommendation would be to take the 5-10 selling skills that you really need – – for example if you’re in account management then prospecting probably isn’t one – – and break those down into a series of 5 to 7 sub-skills.
After you do so it may seem like there’s a lot of work to do. And there might be. But until you can break skill sets down into bite-size chunks, you can’t work on, selling skills effectively.
Many times I have heard a sales manager say, “We don’t need training here because we hire seasoned vets.” I always am amused at that statement.
I’m working right now with an organization that has 25 people in their salesforce, all of whom are between 25 and 40.
They did not hire seasoned vets.
They hire young ambitious talent who are interested in learning how to be better at what they do. And they are crushing the competition.
Recently, I administered the Hogan personality inventory to their 25 people. And almost universally, their Ambition levels were very high.
In this case an Ambition score determines the fuel tank of energy that a person has to get their job done – and do it well. Even the VP of Sales was surprised at the pattern of highly ambitious people that he and his management team had selected.
It was probably instinct more than anything and probably some of the less ambitious people were spit out of the system quickly because they couldn’t make it.
So you sales managers who are hiring season vets in their 50s – I need to be careful with this because I’m in my late 50s – you’d better be careful because your lunch will be beaten by highly ambitious groups of young people who understand social media, how to use Google for research, how to learn new skills that they don’t presently have, and how to use all of the technologies that help serve customers better.
Seasoned vets? Not for me.
We get this question a lot when we do seminars, conferences and sales training. How do I know who to call on inside a company? Usually the correct question is I have no idea because every company is different and every organizational structure is different so where do I begin?
I’m convinced that our inability to talk to the right people wastes tons of our time in the sales process, and costs us tons of revenue and personal income. You never get that time back.
Consequently, when we introduce the Sales How-To Video Series this month, which is a series of 12 short vignettes that every sales person on the planet should watch, we decided to put calling high in there is one of the segments.
You can find it below as well as a place to sign up for the rest of the videos which we think are important as you increase your business.
You sales managers will like this one. I know how much sales managers struggle with selection, recruiting, and retaining great talent in the sales position. So consequently, when we were introducing our Sales How-To Video Series, we thought we’d put a couple of videos in there for sales leaders and managers. And the one we find is the most common question is “how do I build a sales team that performs at high level?”
Obviously a four-minute video on this subject doesn’t do it justice but there are three things in the video below that we think might help you to get on the path to hiring, keeping and growing a high performance sales team.
For our listeners who are accustom to our 10 minute podcasts, this might be a shocker-a full 27 minutes of 10 components to revenue growth. Actually this is the audio from a live-audience event we did in Indianapolis last week.
This is not a step-by-step process to growth — rather a “component approach,” meaning. “What are the things I need to ‘have, be or do’ in order to grow my business?” Bryan and Bill walk through each of these with extra attention paid to three of the sections.
If you want to hear the complete listing of past episodes, go to Advanced Selling Podcast (.com).