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We Are Who We Hire

by David Brock on October 16th, 2011

The other day I received a call from a troubled CEO.  He ran a small company.  “My sales people aren’t producing results!  My sales manager is worthless!  Can you help me straighten this  out?”  After asking a few questions and probing a little further, I politely declined, I made some excuse and suggested he find someone else.

I didn’t take the project because as I spoke to him, I discovered the root problem was the CEO.  Yes, there was a problem with the people.  They didn’t have the skills, they didn’t have the attributes, there were a lot of problems.  Some appeared to be doing things that skirted some ethical and business practice issues.  Others were just plain lazy or sloppy.  Potentially 75% the sales team was wrong and should have been terminated.  The manager was all wrong as well.  He wasn’t doing what the owner expected, he wasn’t doing what he should have been doing.

There were a lot of problems with the sales organization.  It started with having the wrong people.  But I couldn’t help this CEO fix these problems.  He basically was the root problem–he had hired all the people, he had created the environment in which all these people operated.

The people we hire are a reflection of us and our companies.  They are a reflection of what we value, our culture, our operating style, what we think of our customers.  We tend to hire in our own image.  If we are hiring all the wrong people, what does that say about us and our company?  What does this say about what we think of our customers, or how we want them to be handled.

Too often, I see people complaining about their sales people, when the root problem is them.  It starts with bad hiring decisions, it continues with providing them poor leadership, not defining performance objectives, not managing performance, not taking action with problem performers.

When I see this problem, systematically, in an organization, while there may be problems with the sales people, the root problem is with management.

Are you hiring the people that will represent you and your company the way you want to be represented?

Are you setting the right performance expectations, providing the right tools, systems, processes, training?

Are you providing the leadership, coaching and developing people, making sure they are acting in a way that is consistent with your strategies, values, and culture?

Do you act on problem performers?

If you see lots of problems in your organization, the first place to look in fixing the problems is in the mirror.

Book CoverFor a free peek at Sales Manager Survival Guide, click the picture or link.  You’ll get the Table of Contents, Foreword, and 2 free Chapters.  Free Sample

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5 Comments
  1. Azif permalink

    An Excellent article !!
    The most impportant is a check on “Are you hiring the people that will represent you and your company the way you want to be represented?”
    This will ensure that the core of the company delivers.

    • Thanks for the comment Azif! I’m amazed that many managers/leaders don’t get this connection. The people we hire are representatives of our cutlure, value systems, what we think of customers, etc. If we are hiring the wrong people, what does it say about those elements–do we really believe them?

      Thanks for joining the conversation!

  2. Kelly permalink

    OH that I could post this on the door of our Market VP! We are an organization that consistently condones mediocrity in all of our departments. Yet, we expect excellence from our salespeople (half of whom are mediocre themselves), even though all other departments (where mediocirty is accepted) are critical to the execution of everything that we sell. If excellence is not required from every person on staff, then excellence in sales can never be realistic. It can occasionally occur (even frequently occur), but it will never be our “brand”.

    • Kelly (I hope that’s an assumed name). Print it out at a shared printer, put it in a plain envelope, tape the envelope to the door of the Marketing VP—and run 😉

      Managers/leaders must set the example for what excellence is.
      They must hire for excellence
      They must coach and develop for excellence
      They must hold themselves and their people accountable for performing excellently.

      Anything else is wishful thinking

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