Saturday, September 20, 2014

The Saleman's Litmus Test

If your goal is to become a great company or even improve your existing one, every employee in you company should be able to “sell” the product or service that you are merchandising. Since that is usually not the case, you are forced to hire sales people to help implement the objectives laid out by upper management.

A national study indicated that less than 3% of the population has an inherent penchant for sales, and as much as 50% of all salespeople really do not know how to sell. During my 20 odd years in sales, I have hired, worked with, and observed great sales people (yes, both men and women). Being the observant type and believing in best practices, I have complied a listing of questions you should ask any salesperson before you hire them, and should use this Litmus Test to review of your existing sales force to determine whether to keep them or cut them loose.  I hope you find it useful.

Psyching Out the Test: People always try to answer questions the way they think you want them to. You need to 'listen for' answers that someone trying to trick you wouldn't usually predict. You also want to hear specifics, examples, and details. If there are specifics, then it lets you know right off the bat if there's anything worth pursuing. You can give 2 points if they ace this part in general.

Icebreaker: The first four questions loosen up the candidate and set the tone for the entire interview: the interviewer asks questions, and the candidate talks -- a lot. There needs to be a question that focuses on values, attitudes, and ability to communicate. Questions include: Tell me where you would like to be in 5 years? Tell a little about yourself? Tell me you biggest success (the one you are most proud of)? Tell me your biggest failure (one you would do over)? 2 Points for top respondents

Target Behaviors: These 5 questions (2 points each) are designed to reveal the behavioral trait or attitude and tend to be particularly good gauges of success in our organization. They are worth 2 points each if they have them. Here are those personality traits or types and the questions used to gauge them: (1) Assertor: Is the person a doer? (2) Persuader: Can the person persuade a customer? (3) Values: Is the person honest and trustworthy? (4) Relater: Does the person get along with others, and can he or she build long-term relationships? (5) Ego: Does the person have self-regard and a high confidence level but NOT at the expense of being arrogant?

Measuring Integrity: You want candidates who have already had their ethics put to the test. Only two questions address values directly, but all questions are designed to reveal whether a candidate is trustworthy. Question: “What was the hardest ethical dilemma you faced, and what would you have done differently?” This is an important question and it should be weighted at 5 points.

Winning Isn't the Only Thing - But Wanting to Win Is: Look for people who want to win every situation they approach. Remember, in a sales environment there can be six other sales representatives in the lobby, selling products identical to yours. Sales is a gladiator business, and you must win more battles than you lose. Questions: “Tell me your biggest sales success? Name me the person you see yourself as in a movie? Whom would you most consider your role model?” What do you that would be considered unique to your style to close a deal? This one is on a scale of 0 to 4.

Measuring Motivation: You don't need a degree in sales to get this answer right. Look for the word 'money' in this answer. Steer clear of big talkers in favor of careful listeners. Score either a 3 or zero if money is NOT mentioned.

Powers of Persuasion: Ask the question, “Tell me how you can convince someone who does not want your product to buy your product?” This is a classic sales-interview question, but the answers will tell you a lot about how developed a person's persuasive powers are. To a seasoned businessperson, the desired answer, 'By asking questions and finding a need,' may be obvious, but to a green kid out of college, it's not. Many times a person will say, 'I'll cut the prospect a deal.' That answer is wrong! Great answers get 4 points, less if they are not persuasive.

Looking for a Relationship-based Salesperson: You want to see if a candidate can develop long-term customer relationships and work with others easily. A good question is: Tell me how you can get repeat business? 2 Points if this is a swish.

Doers' Profiles: According to traditional sales-psychology books, there are four types of people: Doers, Talkers, Pacers, and Controllers. Not surprisingly, Doers make the best salespeople. Doers will respond to this question aggressively. They have no doubt that if their integrity was questioned, they would be upset, and they would be emphatic about it. A strong value system forces a strong response to the question. It indicates that the candidate is the take-charge type of individual you are looking for. Persistence ia the #1 characteristic of a doer. A good question is: “Do you like working in a group or on your own? How do you handle stress (give an example)?” 4 points it they are a doer, 2 for controllers, 0 for everything else.

The Essence of Selling: It is very hard to change someone's mind, that's what a salesperson must do on almost every call. Selling comes down to providing people not with something they don't need, but with something they didn't know they needed. (read my “You Don’t Know what You Don’t Know post) Question: “Tell me when you were able to convince someone to see your point of view that at first did not?” 3 points for a good answer, but you can rate from 0 to 3.

Measuring Maturity: You would be surprised how many candidates draw an absolute blank on this question. This is a goals oriented question. Look for some honest, clear thinking here -- some sign of maturity and goal orientation. Questions: “How do you prioritize your day? What are your long-term goals? Have you been successful so far?” Maturity is not everything, but it will get you 1 point.

Profits Come First:  Ok this is a big one.  This is to find out if a salesperson knows how important profits are.  The question is this: If you could sell $100 million worth of goods and make $10 million in profits, or sell $2 million and make $1 million, which would you choose?  If they choose $100 million, the get 2 points, $2 million 8 points. Now, to get two more points,they have to tell you why selling $2 million is better... It has to do with selling $100 is really, really hard, and you are making ONLY 10%, and if you sell $85 million you not make anything.  Profit MARGIN is what is important, not revenues... and a great salesman will know this. 

Sum up what you got, if the total is under 40, let the candidate walk, and if you took the test and got under 40, you better start brushing up on your selling skills. Sales is a full contact sport, and if you are not cut out for it, find another job that can better use your skill set whatever it may be.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Out of the Mouths of Babes

As you know, I am a big fan of quotations as I believe they are like pearls of wisdom handed down through the ages that we can wear and that can sustain us in difficult times.  Like little beacons of light to remind us about what we should or could do.

So, when an Elementary School Teacher presented each child in her first grade classroom the first half of a well-known proverb and asked them to come up with the remainder of the proverb some incredibly random wisdom occurred. It is hard to believe these were actually done by first graders. Their insight may surprise you. While reading, keep in mind that these are first-graders, 6 & 7-year-old’s!

1. Don't change horses until they stop running.

2. Strike while the bug is close.

3. It's always darkest before Daylight Saving Time.

4. Never underestimate the power of termites.

5.. You can lead a horse to water but how?

6. Don't bite the hand that looks dirty.

7. No news is impossible

8. A miss is as good as a Mr.

9. You can't teach an old dog new math.

10. If you lie down with dogs, you'll stink in the morning.

11. Love all, trust me.

12. The pen is mightier than the pigs.

13. An idle mind is the best way to relax.

14. Where there's smoke there's pollution.

15. Happy the bride who gets all the presents.

16. A penny saved is not much.

17. Two's company, three's the Musketeers.

18. Don't put off till tomorrow what you put on to go to bed.

19. Laugh and the whole world laughs with you, cry and you have to blow your nose.

20. There are none so blind as Stevie Wonder.

21. Children should be seen and not spanked or grounded.

22. If at first you don't succeed get new batteries.

23. You get out of something only what you see in the picture on the box.

24. When the blind lead the blind get out of the way.

25. A bird in the hand is going to poop on you.

26. Better late than pregnant.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

The Business of Marriage (humor)

While I am a big fan of Marriage, sadly in our modern age, it has become more about entering into a business contract that the blissful relationship of love.  And, since many now see it as a business I thought I would list some marriage wisdom, so to speak.   

You can stay single and be miserable, or get married and wish you were dead.
At a cocktail party, one woman said to another,
'Aren't you wearing your wedding ring on the wrong finger?'
'Yes, I am. I married the wrong man.'

A lady inserted an ad in the classifieds:
'Husband Wanted'.
Next day she received a hundred letters.
They all said the same thing:
'You can have mine.'

When a woman steals your husband,
there is no better revenge than to let her keep him.

A woman is incomplete until she is married. Then she is finished .
A little boy asked his father,
'Daddy, how much does it cost to get married?'
Father replied, 'I don't know son, I'm still paying.'

A young son asked,
'Is it true Dad, that in some parts of Africa
a man doesn't know his wife until he marries her?'
Dad replied, 'That happens in every country, son.'

Then there was a woman who said,
'I never knew what real happiness was until I got married,
and by then, it was too late.'

Marriage is the triumph of imagination over intelligence.
If you want your spouse to listen and
pay strict attention to every word you say -- talk in your sleep.

Just think, if it weren't for marriage, men would go through life thinking they had no faults at all.
First guy says, 'My wife's an angel!'
Second guy remarks, 'You're lucky, mine's still alive.'

'A Woman's Prayer:
Dear Lord, I pray for: Wisdom, to understand a man, to Love and to forgive him, and for patience, for his moods. Because Lord, if I pray for Strength I'll just beat him to death'



Husband and wife are waiting at the bus stop with their nine children. A blind man joins them after a few minutes. When the bus arrives, they find it overloaded and only the wife and the nine kids are able to fit onto the bus.

So the husband and the blind man decide to walk. After a while, the husband gets irritated by the ticking of the stick of the blind man as he taps it on the sidewalk, and says to him, 'Why don't you put a piece of rubber at the end of your stick? That ticking sound is driving me crazy.'

The blind man replies, 'If you had put a rubber at the end of YOUR stick, we'd be riding the bus, so shut the hell up.'

Footnote: For all those happily married, blessings and love to you, for all the rest of us, I know you understand!