The Corporate Recruiter’s Toolbox

November 5, 2007

So when I first got started in the recruiting world, learning the difference between a corporate recruiter and a staffing recruiter confused me at first. Now for those of you in either one of these roles, you are probably thinking to yourself: How in the world can that be confusing?

Well here’s why. My trainer was a head hunter on Wall Street for 8 years. Though he did staffing for many years, he had recently turned into a corporate recruiter and was focused on learning that side of the industry. So the interesting point here is that he began to apply all the principles of being a head hunter to that of recruiting. So as a result, it created a hybrid environment where I really didn’t know what it meant to be an HR generalist, or anything like that within the Human Resource division. Since my role has been commission-driven since the beginning, that was all I knew. To this day, it is still all I know.

The great part about what experience has taught me since, is that most corporate environments not only have the HR department and recruiting department in the same division, but the corporate recruiter is usually just someone in HR that posts ads out there to find people to put in front of managers, or spends hours looking on Monster, CareerBuilder or HotJobs and posts jobs there as well. The result: they will hire just about anyone that applies. Especially in a market right now where the unemployment rate is low, etc. So why not separate the HR from recruiting? Obviously you need a recruiter to be knowledgeable about guidelines, etc, but the reality is that a recruiter is the one solution that most organizations, especially small growing organizations, never think about.

So what is the biggest difference?

Well imagine if your recruiter actively sourced to find people? What if your recruiter was establishing the relationships with managers needed to encourage more employee referrals? Or focused on the hiring so much that managers only needed to be involved for a final interview or final decision?

To me this is what the recruiter should be. In fact, someone with experience in sales makes for a great recruiter because they are not afraid of building rapport, staying in touch with people, networking, attending events, establishing relationships with local universities, businesses, social events, etc. This is how I recruit, and when I was looking to grow in my recruiting profession, I struggled to find a lot of materials out there that would focus on the corporate recruiter. So I am dedicating this part of my blog to do just that. So welcome to the Corporate Recruiter’s Toolbox, and I hope you benefit from my insights, experience, and mentors.

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The 12 Days to Increasing YOUR Credit Score

November 1, 2007

After giving a presentation like this on campuses on the West Coast as well as various church congregations, I thought it would be wise to post this on my blog for those interested in finding ways to increase your credit score and preparing for those big purchases or that day when you will need to consolidate. So here is a rough list of things that you can do to increase your credit score BEFORE you call your broker or that mortgage company or buy a car as well as some helpful information:

1. When you go shopping, leave your credit card home.
Now why would I do that??
Well not only are you 100% more likely to make a purchase if you have a credit card with you, but did you know on average it will cost you 112% of the purchase price? That’s right…even though that sale may look good at 10% off, when you put it on that credit card and don’t pay it off at the end of the month, guess what: that great sales price not only disappeared, but ended up costing you more than you were willing to pay for it in the first place. Who wins? Your credit card company wins! It’s no wonder more and more stores out there offer you 10% discounts to use their card because they know you will pay more in the long run than the sales price anyway! So just bring your debit card and use only the budget you have, or go with the checkbook (if you use that sort of thing).

2. When you get that mail piece in the mail of being ‘pre-qualified’, you are actually known as a revolver.
Steve: What the heck is a revolver? (not a gun by the way) How do you know I am a revolver?
Okay…let me explain. If you had a business idea that you could advertise and sell for say $10, but once the buyer came and bought it you ended up selling it for $15, wouldn’t that make you happy knowing you made $5 more than you originally wanted? Of course it would! Revolvers are people that like to hold balances on their credit cards and end up being a credit card company’s most profitable client. They always pay their credit cards on time, but never in full. In other words, I don’t pay off my entire bill at the end of the month. Credit card companies love this. They can access data and see what you purchase every day and why you purchase it and mail you something that appeals to those senses. They actually do research on you to determine how much you will make them before they even market to you. But in reality, they only see you as a revolver where they can advertise $10, but you end up paying $15. So in essence, when they say you are pre-qualified, what they are really saying is: “Hey, I can make a lot of money from you because you are not too smart with your money. You should sign up!” The sad part is if you have a balance on your credit card as you read this, you’ve already been had. I thought about starting a Revolvers Anonymous in my local area…what do you think?

3. Would you borrow money at 20-25% interest?
I certainly hope not! But the sad part again is that if you have a balance on your credit card as you read this then that is what you are doing. You are borrowing money from your credit card company for an average of 20%! How crazy is that? Today’s average consumer not only pays 19.83%, but it accumulates daily and is compounded (so take that number and divide it by 365 to get .05% daily).
For example, imagine for a moment that you could open a bank account that earned about .05% every day of the year and it compounded daily. At the end of one year, only $1 that you add once would become $6.17 at the end of the year. Or in bigger numbers, you put in $10,000 on Jan 1st, and on Dec 31st you now have an account with $61,746 in it. WOW! Maybe I should start my own credit card company…

4. Do you even know your credit score?
Only 2% of Americans do, and only 3% can actually name the three credit bureaus that contribute in determining your score. So it would be wise to learn about your credit score and what it is, as well as getting your credit report once every 6 months. Since all three bureaus (Equifax, Trans Union and Experian) each allow a free credit report once per year, getting at least 2 checks a year should not be difficult and won’t cost a thing. Now they may charge about $7 to get your score included with the report, but it is well worth it! (The score is separate from your report. The report lists every loan, credit card, etc you have outstanding or have had in the past and the balances while your credit score is your 3 digit score, max of 850). If you fall below the 640 mark, you are going to find that difficulties lie ahead. So, the next few points will be ways you can increase your score over the next 6 months to a year and beyond.

5. How many credit cards do you have and with whom?
Before you read on, you should sit down and have this list ready to go. (If you know the balances as well, that would be helpful too). You see, part of your score is determined by payment history, amounts owed, and new credit that you open up, but 25% of your score is determined by the length of your credit history and the types of credit you use. By understanding these last two items mentioned that affect 25% of your score, you can boost your score incredibly in this New Year coming up. Think about the affect that this is going to have on that new home purchase or vehicle that you may be thinking about, or even in consolidating bills or paying off that debt you are thinking about. If you did your free credit report like I mentioned in #4, you will have this information on balances and such available to you already.

6. Which credit cards do I keep?
Great question! Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express you should keep open indefinitely. DON’T SHUT THEM DOWN. Why? Because guess what? Your history is important and if you are closing and opening up new credit cards, you are hurting your history (which is why balance transfers can be tricky because you will be tempted to shut the other card down that you took the balance from).
KEEP IT OPEN! Just don’t add new balances to it and don’t take it with you (see #1 above). Keep it open to maintain a good history of usage, even if it is to make one purchase a month (gas for example) and pay it off and keep it at that.

7. Which credit cards do I close down entirely and never get again?
NEVER, EVER get a store credit card. (Such as Gap, Old Navy, Lowe’s, Home Depot, Sears, Wal-Mart, Target, RC Willey, IKEA, etc.) If you have them, pay them off quickly and SHUT THEM DOWN!
But Steve!
I get 10% off my next several purchases, or I got a free t-shirt, or no payments for 6 months, or no interest for 6 months, etc!
So what!
These types of cards not only have higher percentages of interest on average (upwards of 26%) but are a type of revolving debt that makes you that ideal revolver for the credit card companies. Plus, if you have balances on these cards, guess what is happening? Your credit score is going down, down, down. Plus, the temptation is higher because of the fun features that they give you. Don’t give in! Don’t get addicted! Don’t be a revolver! Just because someone offers you cocaine doesn’t mean you have to inhale it…even if I do give you a free t-shirt 🙂
So start paying those off first and shut them down, call and cancel, write a letter, whatever it takes. The next time you get your credit report, make sure they are gone as well.

8. Call every 6 -12 months to increase your spending limits on your GOOD cards.
Now Steve…that sounds silly…How is that going to increase my credit score?
It all has to do with the available balance to you. By having a high available balance, you increase your score. Now here’s the catch: Just because you call and increase your limit doesn’t mean you are supposed to spend more.
Duh!
You must increase your limit, but don’t take that as a sign to spend more. That is a big NO-NO. We are trying to boost your score, not get you into more debt. Plus, you could probably call and see if they would be willing to decrease your interest rate. You should try that on cards you do have balances on. It never hurts, and you will begin to educate yourself even more and what you would need to do to get the lower interest rates on your cards. I actually tried it with a friend of mine and by the end of the evening, she had knocked a total of 7% in interest on a few of her cards combined. Not bad for just making a few phones calls for an hour!

9. Avoid too many credit inquiries
Try to limit this as much as possible (but don’t think if you are buying a home that you shouldn’t shop around. These types of checks do not affect you by the way, nor do checks from landlords if you are moving in to a rental unit. The credit bureaus allow such searches without penalties). What I truly mean by this is don’t sign up for every free t-shirt at every available kiosk at the mall. It is unnecessary to have others snooping into your credit just because you want a cool t-shirt with a palm tree on it. Also, don’t go signing up online for credit cards, or those websites that give a free car or laptop computer as long as you sign up for a ton of things first. YIKES!

10. Do not co-sign for another person’s loan.
Big no-no. Unless it is a spouse of course, but even then I caution you not to always put both your names on it as your spouse’s credit score could keep you from making some purchases (such as a vehicle, home, etc). Use your own discretion, but never sign for a friend, roommate, etc. What if they disappear off the face of the planet and leave you with bad debt for something you never got to enjoy? (Such as the car my sister cosigned for and eventually paid the balance in full and never got to see the car. It’s a real sore spot for her, so don’t ask her about it or bring it up please!).

11. Avoid for-profit credit counseling services.
Why is that? Because this has a negative effect on your credit score. Your reading this is a good start, and I promise it will help you incredibly this year. In fact, if there are those here that read this and do it, please email me your success stories! I would love to hear them!

12. Track, track, track
It is time to keep track of your spending habits. You know something really sad is when I have individuals contact me about their debt and there are times when they are surprised to find out about that $8,000 on a Gap card, or $12,000 with Old Navy that their spouse never told them about. BOTH of you need to be involved if you are in a relationship, even if your husband or wife has no idea what they are doing. Patience and involving them is huge, and while the divorce rate is rising to upwards of 60% of marriages failing in this country, the number one reason for marital discord is financial issues. You know what is interesting as well? In the ’70s when there was a big push for credit cards, divorce rates were around 16-17%. It is amazing to me that as you saw more credit cards being used in homes across the country that the divorce rate increased at almost the exact same rate…I wonder if when the banks and credit card companies were so busy ‘finding revolvers’ to make a lot of money ever thought about what that would do to the American Family.

So there you have it…the 12 Days of Increasing your Credit Scores. With the New Year coming up, I know there is a lot of shopping and the like to be done, but just remember, there are ways to go about doing it, and I am sure your family would be much happier with you being financially free and in a stable relationship than you spending a fortune getting them that golden spatula that they always wanted. Plus, by the following year, you will probably be able to afford to get them something better anyway. It’s worth it!

I do have a small update on this article and I want to thank those of you who have sent me your emails. When I originally posted this article on my first blog and got it published back in December 2006, I started to receive thank you emails about 6 months later. So far, the average increase for those who have written me about their experience in applying these principles I have outlined is almost 60 points this past year. So please do let me know your story!

Are you Ready for Sales Marriage? (Part III)

November 1, 2007

So I hope that the first two posts about sales marriage have been extremely helpful as you discover what sales marriage is and what it should be, and whether or not it is a relationship that you want to be in. In this final article for creating a sales marriage we are going to discuss the organizational attributes of the company you are looking at and focus on several questions that you will need to find answers to in helping to complete the marriage so that a fulfilling life together will be successful.

Here are some of the questions that need to be considered and are going to be discussed in a bit more detail in this final article.

How flexible does someone need to be to survive in their sales environment?
What is the sales management approach in training and thereafter?
What are they willing to teach you as a salesperson?
What aren’t they willing to teach you?
What corporate baggage does the organization have?

So with these questions in mind, let’s get started!

Consider the organizational Attributes that Makes it Successful

Stretch for Flexibility
Flexibility in a sales environment can do two things: it can either be extremely beneficial in stretching you to become better (which should be something you are seeking) or it may be the very type of environment you are already trying to escape from, not allowing for growth. As mentioned in the 2nd part to this article, you need to avoid the rebound relationships, because most rebounds are an escape to the core issues at hand, and without digging deep to focus on those core issues, the relationship will fail. So what make a sales professional successful in their environment? Does compensation change often or not at all? Is it different in different divisions and what accounts for those differences? You need to clearly define the long-term or strategic aspects of the position. There needs to be a demonstration that there is indeed more opportunities to stay on a faster track if the individual does indeed perform at a high level.

One of the very things that attracted me to TrueNorth in the first place was the “newness” of the organization, yet they have a very solid foundation within the industry. Just in the short 6 months that I have been here I have seen some incredible growth, including new partners that are increasing the standards of what we already offer, which in turn has also increased the standards of the interview process in our hiring practices to find top talent that are attracted to growth. Those who are successful in our environment are those that see sales as a process, not a hard close. Having a passion about what we are doing for people in coaching them is also a key point in that flexibility. This is a new industry for you, or a new environment from what you did for a competitor. At the same time, how flexible are you to being stretched? When I played baseball I had some great coaches, but I have to say that the coaches that I respected the most were the same ones that I hated on certain days because of the push for me to excel and go beyond what I had done before. I am grateful for those “stretching” exercises.

Approach and Training
So in addressing this area of questioning, understanding the sales approach is a must. Is it a hands-on type of training, or more of a distant observer? What kind of feedback is given and how specific are the details in that feedback? With that feedback, how often are goals set to achieve something greater and how often are reviews conducted? What are you being graded on? Do those measures make sense in your own personal development? Is there classroom training, or do you just watch someone from the sidelines?

Understanding the answers to these questions is critical. Knowing how well you deal with a certain type of management approach is extremely important, but at the same time, you also need to be coachable. Just because you were the #1 sales professional at your last organization does not mean you will be #1 in this new organization. You need to personally sit down and focus on what makes you YOU. I will be writing another article at a later date in regards to how you can focus on you and who you are, where you are at as a professional sales person, and really determining whether or not you should even be in sales. Sometimes it is not the coach, but the player. Not everyone is fit to play, not because they can’t learn it, but because it just isn’t the right match. Understanding what approach is good for you is important, and understanding how the new organization is going to approach YOU in training and beyond will need to be known and discussed.

The great part about TrueNorth Academy in this area is that our training approach has been set up to mimic the very coaching programs that we train our clients on. As a result, you will enjoy a classroom setting as well as personal one-on-one attention. Part of the training puts you on the phone as well, since that is where applying what you are learning is key to you being successful, giving you the ability to focus on some weaknesses that may be troubling you.

Coach or be Coached
I am going to address the next two questions in this section since they are related in several ways. What the organization is willing to train on or not will reveal one of the most important observations: What is the quality of the team that you will be working with?

So why is this so important? Because the quality of your future as a coworker, making new friends at work, and possible leadership roles in the future is critical to your satisfaction in the “sales marriage”. There is a proverb I have always enjoyed that says “Keep company with good men and good men you will imitate”. I took this advice seriously when I started my professional recruiting career. I figured that if I hang out with those that are wealthy and make 6-figures, then I should be making 6-figures. By my second year, I had achieved this goal and have ever since. Sure I worked about 80-90 hours per week that first year, and yes I missed my little girl’s first year of life (pretty much) but now I can enjoy the rest of her life and the work has paid off. The growth is tremendous and I love what I do. (And for those that think recruiting is not sales related, we need to talk).

Will you be in company with good men and women? Are you surrounded by people just getting started in their careers, or seasoned professionals in your same situation learning a new industry? Understanding what they are going to teach during the training and what they are expecting from you already is very important so you can go into the relationship with no surprises. They may even have some materials you can read or focus on prior to starting to prepare for the new relationship.

In looking at TrueNorth, we are looking for a little more seasoned professional that is willing to train and learn. During the interview process, we address all the questions that we feel are extremely important for you to be successful in the role. It is because of this process that we hope those that do interview are honest with us be even more honest with themselves about these questions since we want to see the success of others in these roles. We are also working on a new program that will be used to train better, certify you in SPIN selling (a concept that we use in our approach) and overall create a successful environment for you. There are also several books I can recommend to really improve your sales career, irregardless of how long you have been selling or how good you think you are. We can always improve.

The Baggage We Carry
This last question is a fun one for me because it can be such a controversial subject. But let’s be honest: all of us have baggage. So do organizations. One of the things I learned in working with the “good men” of my professional career is not only to eliminate the hype, but also to leave nothing on the field (I know, another baseball analogy, but you understand right?).

Relationships are built on trust and communication. So are organizations. If you cannot trust the people that you work with, why would you even communicate with them? If the organization cannot take the time to answer your questions thoroughly and be up front about the roles, how honest are they going to be once you are hired? By the same token though, you have to be careful not to interpret information into what you want to hear. You will just be deceiving yourself, and later you will be bitter and it will be your own fault.

So what is baggage? While I will not go into the Arabic origins of the word, what I will do is give a definition using questions based on what you should be looking for. Why is the company hiring? Is it because of recent layoffs? Is it because of a high turnover rate? Is it because of growth? These are important questions to ask in terms of baggage.

Other baggage items to consider are the challenges that sales people in this role experience. One of the best ways to do this is to speak with some of the sales people. Some companies do not allow people to be available (which is understandable, because you may be a competitor trying to steal someone away or find out secrets or whatever), but if you hang around a little bit afterwards you are bound to run into someone you can talk to. Just simply ask if it is possible to speak to someone else within the role first. If that doesn’t work, I promise if you are really serious about looking, you will find someone to speak with.

Ask about the most challenging things to come with selling the product or service. This requires true introspection and honesty, so if they think about it first, then you probably are getting an honest answer, but if they go right away into an answer, they are probably saying what they have said over and over again to overlook the question and not hit the question head on. Look for signs that tell you whether or not they are coming with more baggage than you want to handle right now.

Every sales organization has some baggage, but it isn’t always a bad thing. Sometimes those baggage items were great learning experiences, and unfortunately it was a phase that they went through, but what’s done is done now. The experience was taken into consideration, new concepts and principles were applied, and they are moving forward. Find out about goals and where the company sees their current model going, as well as the ideas and plans in place to get them there. They may not be able to go into all details or specifics, but most will have a general idea.

In regards to TrueNorth in this scenario, I will hold those details for a personal interview, since most of our “secret sauce” is extremely important to our business model, and there is only so much I can share. So you will get a taste, but I won’t give you the recipe!

So there you have it! Your deep commonality of needs and values coupled with those of a great organization will make for a successful “Sales Marriage”. So get wooing!

Are you Ready for Sales Marriage? (Part II)

November 1, 2007

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!

Are you Ready for Sales Marriage? (Part I)

November 1, 2007

I have been recruiting sales professionals for many years now, and while turnover is always something that you have to deal with, I have always sought to find the right candidate to avoid turnover as much as possible. I was actually reading an article from Lee Salz that inspired this article about sales marriage. Since the vows in this relationship, if taken seriously, can lead to a fantastic career here at TrueNorth, I thought I would start this section of the blog with the most important part of the relationship that we at TrueNorth Academy are seeking in our hiring practices.

Are you ready for sales marriage?

Funny as this may seem, finding sales professionals for me is kind of like bringing two people together to form a “sales marriage”. Appearance is usually enough to initiate a relationship (when I say appearance, I mean the appearance of the company I hire for), but if there is not a deep commitment and a common ground based on the needs and values of those involved, the future of the marriage is bleak. So before you consider a career in sales with TrueNorth or any organization for that matter, there are three areas of focus that you need to consider. Keep in mind as I present these three areas, I will be relating them to working here at TrueNorth specifically, but I believe strongly that the principles here can be applied to any career you are looking into.

Think about it: in the recruiting relationship with those I meet, YOU are interviewing us just as much as WE are interviewing you. So my goal is to find a match that makes sense. If it doesn’t make sense, then we part as networking friends. There is no reason not to stay in touch as you never know when our paths may cross again. Circumstances for all of us change throughout our life, so rather than be caught by surprise, let’s maintain a networking relationship so if the need arises, we have someone to turn to.

So here is the first area that you should consider. The remaining two will be discussed in future posts:

Characteristics of What You Will be

Selling

It is extremely important to keep in mind what it is you will be selling. If you do not or cannot have a passion about it, why pursue the courtship? Remember that the role of the sales person really is to facilitate the buying process such that it helps both sides determine if it makes sense to do business together. Not every person is going to want the business you have to sell, but by the same token, you may not want to sell the business to just anyone willing to buy. Seems odd at first, but how many of you have experienced a refund and a loss of a commission you were anticipating? What if you could have avoided the refund in the first place by selling it to the right person? Here at TrueNorth, we focus on personal coaching for clients within the investment industries such as Stock Investing, ForEx, & Options Trading. So here are some questions to ask to understand the characteristics of what is being sold to truly know if it is a right fit for you.– What is the nature of the product being sold?
– What is the nature of the buying relationship?
– What will the product accomplish for the end user?
– How recognizable is the product or the company in the marketplace of the buyers?
– In contrast to competitors, where is the pricing for the product? Advantages? Disadvantages?

TrueNorth Academy provides a service. The “service” is the personal coaching program. Think about it: how many times has someone purchased a book, CD, DVD, or attended a seminar on learning how to invest, only to see it land on a bookshelf after a few months to collect dust until it gets sold at a garage sale? TrueNorth has professional traders who have been trading for many years. These traders become a personal coach to these individuals on a one-on-one basis to not only fast-track their implementation of what they have been learning, but to help them overcome some of the pitfalls, fears, and embarrassments when getting started. Let’s face it…it can be scary to trade with REAL money knowing that you could lose it. This is a real fear for our clients. The great news is we can help eliminate this fear by having someone work with them to personalize their learning experience.

The buying relationship is simple: this particular sale is a one-time transaction. The program they sign up for will depend on the individual, but will last for 3-15 months. There are other programs they can pursue after their initial coaching program they sign up for, but this is for the coaches to handle at a later time. Your focus is in the next question.

The end user will become an active investor. When you speak to our clients, they are frustrated, scared, or eager and ambitious. Either way, they all have a major goal in mind: to learn to invest well enough that they can make a nice return every year. Even beyond this goal are a nice retirement income and the possibility to retire early because they understand the principles of their money making more money for them. Our sales professionals focus on asking the right questions and determining a fit to truly see if what the client wants matches with what the coaching programs can do for them. If the puzzle piece does not fit, don’t force it, just move on. Our clients already are very familiar with the product from the start. The nice part about TrueNorth is you work with clients who are already familiar with our partner client. They recognize the company and materials you will speak to them about, and they are already in the market of becoming educated in these investment fields which is why they made their initial purchase, attendance to a seminar, or request for more information in the first place. Not only that, but our partners include some of the more well known organizations in the country within these respective investing fields. We have a strong commitment to making their clients successful, and value the business relationship that we have with them.

In comparison to our competitors, we stand out. You see, most coaching organizations create their own product that they think is great for clients (which is in some cases) and then develop a system to sell it like crazy, and then follow-up to sell coaching and other products or services to increase revenue and go from there. Oftentimes though these products hit a peak, or fizzle out because what one person thought was great, the general populace did not feel the same way. The idea lasts for a time, but something always changes, and they are not ready for those changes. While I cannot go into specific details about how we are different, suffice it to say our partner clients already have a client base where our leads come from. Plus, they are well respected and well known in their fields. In fact, at a recent career fair, I spoke with one of the sales reps of a competitor to us who actually mentioned he refers his own clients to some of the partners that we work with. I faked a chuckle along with him because in my mind, I thanked him for sending us more business.

So in concluding this first series of a sales marriage, be aware of what it is you will be selling. In our case, you want to ask yourself: Do I truly believe in what TrueNorth sells and is it something I can be passionate about? If the answer is yes, then this relationship has already started on solid ground. You need to think about the organization that you are meeting with to start this process of answering these types of questions. Stay tuned for the next two articles on Sales Marriage!