Are you Ready for Sales Marriage? (Part II)

In the first part of this article, we discussed the characteristics of the product you will be selling and finding out if this fits with what it is you would enjoy doing. The second thing you should be thinking about is the “processes” in joining an organization. Oftentimes the process can reveal many things about the organization before an offer is even made. While this section will cover many of the questions you need to find answers to during your interview process, this is not a comprehensive list. There are probably dozens of others, but suffice it to say, these are generally some of the most important.

Consider the Processes: From the Interview, to Being Hired, to Training and Continued Development

When you are considering a new career option, you always need to consider the process that it takes to land you the position and then continually evaluate the processes in place to make you successful. Now obviously not every organization is going to be completely perfect when it comes to all of these processes, but if you could give them a grade, how would you rate them? Here are the main processes to consider:

– What is the interview process like?
– What is the process like after the interview?
– When and how is an offer made to join the organization?
– What is the training like?
– What benefits exist and how will you be able to continue to development and stretch yourself to grow in your career?

The Interview. There is much that can be said about the interview. Obviously every organization will do it differently, but there are probably a few things that you should take note on.

The first thing is when you go in to interview and see the atmosphere. Is this an environment that looks professional, inviting, and somewhere you can see yourself working? Again, no company is perfect, but there does need to be a genuine sense of cleanliness, professionalism and overall “care” that has been taken in the office environment. In the interview itself, think about the interviewer, the questions being asked and the information covered. Obviously there is not a lot of time to cover everything, but the interviewer is all talk and really is not finding out more about your career and qualifications, it may be just about the hype. Do you sense there is desperation in their attempts to recruit you? Or are they genuinely trying to find a good fit based on experience, education, environment, etc? The questions themselves should be well thought out and organized to allow the interviewer to truly cover those things that are important to the organization. If you feel the questions are too basic, or do not go deep enough, you may want to consider this in your search for a fit.

Another practice I have unfortunately seen in our industry as well as other sales industries I have recruited for is the need to “bash” the competition. If the interviewer feels the need to speak about the competitors, it should be in a good light or should focus on the value of what their personal organization offers rather than on what others can’t do. Now in your personal research (which I would expect you to be doing), I know you will be very interested in understanding the differences and understanding the competition which is very important, so it is definitely appropriate to ask and find out more, just take note on how this type of question is handled by the interviewer.

The last thing to think about in the interview process has been mentioned briefly already, but I mention it again because it is very common in sales organizations: HYPE. It’s rather funny to me that some people feel that hype and boasting wins someone over. In almost every case I have seen, no one wants to be “sold” to. I remember an interview with an organization near Bountiful during my last move that I made. I hardly said anything in the interview because the interviewer did most of the talking about things that were not important to me. He focused on making money at whatever the cost and brought in several people that seemed like slick city folk looking to make money no matter what, which they must have because they were making thousands and millions. Were they rich? Absolutely. But my question was how wealthy were they? Hype often means you will be using the old school method of selling using torture techniques to close a deal.

Just talk about the features. Have a list of doubts with answers to rebuttal anything. Apply pressure, and close. Oh, and don’t forget to not let them say anything about what they want, because they don’t really know. Apply more pressure, close again. Repeat if necessary.

Silly isn’t it? I will NEVER work with those types of people. Just like true professional sales should be, if the partnership and doing business together makes sense, why would I have to hype it up into something it isn’t or ramble on about the money when it should never be JUST about the money anyway? Besides, in my sales experience, this type of practice leads to refunds. In hiring, this same practice leads to turnover. In a sales marriage, it’s kind of like the rebound relationship right after a break up. You jump from one to the next, wondering why you keep having such bad luck. Well luck can be controlled if you know what to look for and avoid the rebounds in the first place.

Post Interview. So now that the interview is complete, you are on an emotional high right? Well you should be if the interview process fulfilled what we have just talked about. If you don’t have any excitement about it, or if you didn’t lose sleep that night, it may not be the right type of relationship. There needs to be a passion, and remember passion can exist without hype. One of the best ways to measure this is thinking about ho many people you spoke to about it after the interview. Did you speak to a spouse, a roommate, a friend, mom, or dad?

So now you need to think about the next step. Did the interviewer explain the process or just send you on your way? Did you even ask what the next step was? In my experience, I always leave a homework assignment for those who have come in. Why? Because I am trying to see if they have that passion I just mentioned. If you truly felt the passion, you will call me back, or leave a message or send an email. I make it simple: I give you a homework assignment called the “Interview Script”. It accomplishes two things: first it tells me that you are genuinely interested in moving forward since you took the initiative to call me and leave it on my voicemail. Second, I do grade them, and let’s be honest: at TrueNorth, everything you do is over the phone. So this allows me to hear you on the phone saying some of the very things you are going to be saying to our clients’ every day. So of course I want to know what you sound like on the phone and more importantly, if you can read a script without sounding like you are reading it to me. Is the company you just interviewed with taking it this seriously as well?

The Offer. Written documentation is a must. If verbally they just say you will start next Monday and there is no written agreement, I would question their hiring practices. If they are a good sales organization looking seriously to find the right types of candidates, there should be some formal agreement that is created and distributed to you. For TrueNorth, no offer is made without something in writing signed by myself. We will be very up front about everything in that offer letter including any legal documents that need to be signed before coming in. There is no reason to hide anything, and if they can’t take the time to formally agree to a position in writing, why would you agree with an offer that does not technically and often does not legally exist as well?

The Training. There is much that can be said here as well. How long is the training? What are the expectations during training? Will you be getting one-on-one attention, or just sit next to someone and shadow for a few days? The more serious the organization takes training, the more committed you know they are in YOUR development (which we will discuss in the next section). That should be very important to you and the organization in establishing this “sales marriage” we have discussed here.

One of the added benefits of working at TrueNorth is not only the 3 week “Sales Academy” (which is our training program for new folks) but after 90 days, all of our employees gain access to our coaching materials as well. It’s kind of like a library, where you can check out those items that are interesting to you in learning. So the training goes beyond just the sales roles. In fact, in our September 2007 newsletter, The Compass, our CEO Mike Gillespie said,

“Regardless of what you do for the company, just know you are a key part of our mission to Educate and empower people to make positive change. So if you’re ever having a challenging day, don’t lose perspective on the impact your life’s work is having on others. I would also challenge you to take advantage of the programs we offer, learn how to invest in the markets, buy and sell real estate, and reduce your debt. Our mission includes educating and empowering YOU to make positive change. Thanks for all you do.”

Continued Development. So if the role does not offer an immediate stretch from what you have done in the past, you may get bored quickly. Continued development of your career and abilities is crucial to your remaining happy (believe me or not). It is amazing to me to see people that at one point were quite successful, but decided to “take a break” from the stretch that helped them achieve that success in the first place. If the role is not challenging, why take it on? There is always something exhilarating about taking on a new challenge. When you think about it, those people that pushed you to excel are the ones you respect the most. They saw the potential in you when all you could see was the list of leads staring at you from the desk next to the phone you had to pick up again. (Yes, I have had days where my Toshiba SD20 and I were not on the best of terms).

So how is your sales marriage so far? Is it on the verge of divorce? Blossoming more than ever? Next time, we will discuss the final area of importance to look at when making your career change in sales. Until then!

1 Comment »

  1. 1
    Lee Salz Says:

    Thank you for sharing my concept of the sales marriage with your readers. We share a passion for ensuring sales people and employers find the right relationship so both thrive.

    Look for my book in 2009 titled “The Sales Marriage” which is designed to help employers to find the right sales people for their sales organization.

    Adapt & Thrive!


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