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Sunday, June 29, 2008

Meaningful evaluation -- fast results are important (2)

Searching for an image to go with this posting, I came across the Amazon reference to this book Topgrading For Sales. Haven't read it yet, but will order it. For some insights into our current sales recruitment/hiring system, however, you can see this relevant earlier Construction Marketing Ideas blog posting.

Last week, one morning, I had an early lunch following my son Eric's school awards recognition. He is the best at athletic sportsmanship among his Grade 5 peers. But now I had an awkward situation. At 10:30 a.m., it was too early for lunch, but I didn't want to rush back to the office to meet the salesperson who we were evaluating. I wanted to give him a little longer to work without me breathing down his back. So I stopped and had a truly early lunch.

My cellphone rang, and Chase -- himself returning from his son's school awards ceremony -- briefed me about his doubts about the new candidate. This is in line with our evaluation system for prospective employees. Instead of the conventional interviews, we put individuals who pass early screening and testing to work -- and then invite feedback from current employees about whether they are right for the organization.

I suppose the poor job candidate had two strikes out when I met him at 11 a.m., but I quickly realized the new person just didn't get it. He had handwritten the 'correct' rates over a rate sheet for another publication (instead of simply asking Amanda in the next room for a print out of the correct document). But the thing that really troubled me is that he didn't understand the nature of effective selling and calling. He said was used to working in organizations with training programs and with some time he would learn. I told him we don't have training programs. We use common sense.

I asked him if he had thought about why he was calling the names on the list he had and whether he had sought to build a relationship with the company which had originated the list. He said he hadn't. He, it seems, didn't get the basic concept that if you work with a referred group of potential clients, it is vitally important to really connect and relate to the person who provides the referrals. (We provided the necessary information to allow for the completion of the single phone call that would have provided this information.)

"Nope, this isn't going to work," I thought, as I found my voice -- and frustration -- rising. So I made it clear to him that I didn't think he would work out, but I would give him a choice. If he thought he could figure out what to do, and wanted another chance, I would not mind giving him another day and a half -- fulfilling my original commitment for a three day assessment. If not, he should leave now. I told him to think about it for a few minutes and to get back to me with his decision.

He left the room; and five minutes later returned saying he would leave now. I breathed a sigh of relief. In addition to saving about $200 on the evaluation (we pay for the candidates time for this stage of the process), his desk space would not be wasted, potential clients would not be irritated by his nuisance sales calls, and I could get on with the business of finding someone right for the company.

Effective selling, I tried to explain to the person who won't work for us, is not about pounding the phone, calling people you don't know, cold, without any relationship or connection. Effective selling is often seemingly inefficient. You get involved, you connect in the community, and you put aside your "where is the next order" mentality to support causes and associations that are relevant to the business. (And this is NOT plastic 'networking' where you size up everyone as potential clients or 'waste of time' people -- you simply do your best to contribute, share and support the worthy associations and causes.) Effective selling, I tried to explain, is building your brand -- and representing that of your company. That reference really went over his head.

I then phoned Leslie Greenwood in Sault Ste. Marie, who provided the list of names to the candidate under evaluation. She had kept half the list for her own evaluation, and had sold some ads already. Leslie knew the secret of the connection -- she respected the relationship with the company that provided her the list, and that just one conversation at the start of the process, with the company that provided the list, would be more valuable than anything the sales candidate could do. We'll salvage the list, and the sales. And we went back to the drawing board -- and inexpensive/free Internet recruiting sites -- to look again for the right person for the work.

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