Last year I read a book, Predictable Revenue, by Aaron Ross. If you're not familiar with Aaron, he took over the sales team of a small company, struggling for acceptance in the marketplace, and in a few short years, built it to $100 million in sales. The company was Salesforce.com and you know the rest of the story.
After reading the book I contacted Aaron and, because of our expertise in recruiting sales talent, we partnered in a Strategic Alliance. I asked him if I could share a small excerpt from his book about building sales teams. He graciously allowed me to present it here. Having built and managed sales teams for healthcare, insurance, and RCM organizations I can say his recommendations are solid.
Here's what Aaron writes....
If you want to build a solution-selling, high-value sales force, commit the team and company to invest in their success just as much as you expect them to invest in the company!
Internal Training Builds A Better Sales Force
Ongoing training can be the cheapest and easiest (yes, easiest) way to improve your team's performance. It takes commitment and focus, but is always a great investment of your time.
The Best and Cheapest Investment In Your People…
...is consistent, regular training and coaching (especially new hires). I see again and again what a difference regular training makes in improving sales skills and results, reducing ramp time and increasing “promotability” (yeah, I just made that word up, but what a concept!).
Simple monitored practice exercises, with feedback, can make a dramatic, noticeable difference in performance, whether in public speaking, objection handling, phone skills, demos or personal/career development.
A program with an ongoing, regular format.
Includes exercises/role-playing and useful feedback.
Is designed effectively, to make it worth your reps' time.
Follow through on everything: maintain the schedule, check progress, keep it fresh and don't let things slip.
Finally, the most important thing to making this work is commitment from the CEO or VP Sales to follow through and stick to it. You will have kinks to work out over weeks, months or quarters. Internal training will only get the attention and time it deserves if the management team believes in it, and is willing to invest in it.
This is a guest post from my good friend Dick Wells, author, speaker, and CEO of the Hard Lessons Company. This first appeared in his blog on July 10, 2013. Enjoy.... Richard
The headline in the July 4th Tennessean was: “Vanderbilt University Medical
Dick Wells CEO, Hard Lessons Company
Center Cuts Jobs.” The number of employees affected was unspecified, but later reports hinted it was about 300±. A VUMC spokesman clarified that the cuts were “not layoffs,” but were “focused on employees who scored below a certain threshold in performance evaluations.”
Of course, VUMC is being trashed by some for being heartless and interested only in money. Hmmm…I wonder about that since they provide over $200M (yes, $200M!) of free healthcare per year to uninsured and poor patients.
To put this in perspective, 300 people are only 2% of VUMC’s workforce of 16,000. I guarantee you that more than 2% are under-performing. In most large organizations (including ones I have led), upwards of 5-10% of employees aren’t really performing at the level needed and that they are paid for. So I say, “Bravo, Vanderbilt!” But I do have a few thoughts (learned the hard way) that might help VUMC—or your organization—keep out of the headlines when taking on the next 2%.
#1 Rather than doing all performance appraisals at the same time, spread them throughout the year. Every PA is important and deserves thoughtful, special attention, which is difficult when they are all due next week.
#2 Under-performers should be released when remedies have failed. (VUMC could have avoided the headlines by taking action one at a time instead of en masse.)
#3 Nothing said or written in a PA should ever be a surprise. The purpose of a PA is not to ambush an employee. Performance feedback—especially when negative—should be given when it occurs.
#4 Don’t use numerical ratings. Numbered systems put the employee’s focus solely on the rating instead of the actual performance. Whatever needs to be said, can be said without assigning a number to it.
#5 Minimize the use of adjectives to describe performance. Whether good or bad, try to express performance in terms of outcomes/results/etc.
#6 If overall performance is unsatisfactory, don’t expect the employee to agree with you. There are few people who will acknowledge they aren't getting the job done. If they do agree, they will believe it is someone else’s fault. Don’t expect to hear “You’re right, I should be fired.”
#7 Working hard is not the same thing as getting results. Most people believe they should be rewarded for working hard and doing their best even if the results are unsatisfactory. After all, isn't that what we teach our children? And by the way, almost all employees believe they are working hard. Don’t expect to hear “I’m lazy and deserve to be fired.”
#8 Underperforming employees will rarely fix themselves. It is your job as the leader to help them raise their performance. [I’ll discuss some of the reasons for underperformance in my next post.] However, if their performance can’t be raised, you need to do what VUMC did.
In Straight From The Gut, Jack Welch says, “Removing people will always be the hardest decision a leader faces. Anyone who enjoys doing it shouldn't be on the payroll, and neither should anyone who can’t do it.”
Most leaders have a tendency to postpone the “hardest decisions” that affect people; I have certainly been guilty. In the long run, it never pays to tolerate under-performance in your organization. When you do, it can become the “norm.” Is that what you want?
At least this is what a recent Forbes article recommended. But what do you do when your corporate policy seems to drag out the process of removing an underperforming employee? Why does employee termination seem harder then finding people for the job?
MMS Group President and CEO Richard Yadon answers this question in the short video below...
While reading the article about the Health 2.0 showcase in Europe I was reminded of a conversation I had earlier in the day with a health information technology sales executive. She told me that the health information management solutions on the market today will be completely different in two years. That will require new blood, new thinking, and a different kind of health technology sales executive.
The old saying "You can't keep doing things the same way and expect a different result" comes to mind. Just recycling the same sales people from competitors will only move a sales team further behind the curve.
"That will require new blood, new thinking, and a different kind of health technology sales executive." (Click to Tweet this)
I am already seeing this in other areas of health care, especially in care management. Movement away from traditional care models is creating a need for non-traditional skill sets.
Sales competency is and will continue to be important. Also important will be the ability to transcend traditional ways of thinking and selling. Organizations will need to look outside of the health care for their next sales stars.
Health 2.0 Showcase Article
Click here to get more ideas about finding your next superstar.
by Richard Yadon, MMS Group PresidentI was amazed as my neighbor built a backyard gazebo from the ground up. He did the foundation, stone, and carpentry work. The finished product is beautiful. We enjoy sitting under it as the temp cools after a hot Nashville day. The gazebo has me thinking... I would never attempt to build a gazebo. This is no surprise to those that know me well. My wife jokes that I couldn't nail two boards together at a right angle, and she is right. I have never had any training nor experience building anything so this is one D.I.Y. project that is not for me. On the other hand my neighbor has gotten the right guidance, has learned the right methods and is able to successfully complete the project that we all enjoy.
I believe the same is true for companies that are working to define the right person to hire. Some employers with a little guidance will do a great D.I.Y. job while others will hire a pro to take on the job. In the end all that matters is the final product. So for all the D.I.Y. folks out there here are three steps to building and using job analysis in your hiring process.
1 - Step One: Throw out the job description. Job descriptions only tell you what a person needs to have. (What they DID) Job analysis works to determine what a person needs to DO. Big difference. Who really cares if a person has all the required work experience, education pedigrees, etc, if they can't get the results you need?
2 - Step two: Interview all the successful people currently in the same job. Find out what they have done and what they DO to be successful. Also spend time with any under-performers that you have on the team. When you take the time to understand what types of actions and behaviors are driving successful outcomes you will have the clarity needed to determine who you should be hiring.
3- Step Three: Write a new job profile. Not a description, but a profile. Keep the focus on daily, monthly, yearly activity that your new hire will need to DO. You can then structure the interview to validate against your position profile. Try this. Before going into an interview don't look at the resume, focus instead on asking questions that find out if the candidate can DO, or has DONE, what you need your new hire to accomplish. Focusing on the DO rather than the DID will help you quickly identify the candidate that will get a fast start.
That's it, DO vs DID for the D.I.Y. crowd.
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What is employee turnover? Conventional thought would tell you that the employee turnover ratio is hires compared to terminations over a period of time. Certainly there are complex methods that tell you how to calculate turnover. Companies spend a lot of money to find and understand staff retention rates. A high attrition rate is expensive. Staff retention has to be a priority for every organization.
I would suggest that the traditional methods that teach you how to calculate turnover are wrong! Yes, they can tell you a mathematical ratio and, yes, that number is true. But corporate leaders could be asking the wrong questions about their true retention rate. Instead of asking "what are our employee turnover rates?" a better question is "What is employee retention?" An employee doesn't have to leave your company to stop working. Recent surveys state that more than 50% of employees today have mentally or emotionally left their jobs. To really understand your attrition rate you must factor this into how you calculate turnover. A disengaged employee could cost a company more than a vacant seat. To truly understand staff retention, employee engagement must be part of the equation. Otherwise companies are fooling themselves into believing their employee turnover rates are simply a mathematical ratio.
The most overlooked fact about employee turnover is this; employee disengagement has to be part of employee turnover rates. Find out who is in the wrong job (see my other posts about job analysis). Add that number to your actual terminations. Then you'll truly understand your employee turnover ratio.
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A funny thing happened on the way to school last week. My son, a high school senior, was getting ready for an awards event. Before leaving he asked me to tie his tie for him. Putting a tie on is something I’ve done almost every morning for more than twenty years. You think I could do it in my sleep by now. But I couldn’t! First I tried to do tie it standing in front of him while it was around his neck. That was strange; I’d never done it before from that perspective. Then I tried to tie one around my neck, over my own tie, while standing in front of his mirror. For some reason that was even stranger. It took me almost fifteen minutes before I could get it tied. For years I put on my tie in the same room, at the same time, in the same mirror, the same way for so long. Now I was out of my element, in a new environment, and I couldn’t do it. The entire process was on auto-pilot and when something new came along the process broke down.
The same thing can happen if your job analysis process is on auto-pilot. When a job evaluation has been done the same way for so long it becomes ineffective. Companies that want to attract top talent must transcend the tradition of writing job descriptions. Today’s talent will not come to your company when the human resources process for job evaluation is a cut and paste operation. The HR job description from four years ago is not the same as a true performance based job analysis.
The process of job analysis consists of several steps (see my related post The Pros & Cons of Job Analysis). If you think your job analysis process is on auto-pilot, take a fresh approach. Start with your HR job description. This will have all of elements of what a person needs to have to do the job. But the job analysis process goes well beyond writing job descriptions. The next step is to understand what a person must do to be successful. This can be different from the HR job description. Would you rather have a person who has done the job successfully in the past or someone who has all the job description requirements? Most Strategic Employers would take the former, even if person didn’t have all the requirements in the HR job description.
Take your job analysis process off of auto-pilot. Begin the process of job analysis with what someone does to be successful, not what they need to have.
Be extremely selective with who you hire.
Have you ever interviewed someone for a job who said they weren't a hard worker, had tremendous integrity, or wasn't honest? Of course not. Did you validate their resume during the interview? Did you ask your favorite interview questions? You know, the questions you like to ask because your gut instincts can pick a winner every time? Amazingly this is the kind of "selection process" many organizations use to make $100,000+ decisions!
To become a high performance company or to build a high performance team, 'selection' is where you invest your time and money. Hiring the wrong person today is too costly in dollars, time, profitability, and competitive edge. Identifying the right person is the key -- and that might not be evident from their resume or their interviewing skills. High performance organizations, Strategic Employers, know that selecting the right personis a structured and rigorous process. Using a structured selection process takes a bit longer, but it pays for itself in the long-term.
A simple, structured selection process might look like this:
Create a Performance Profile of the job
Develop a interview guide for everyone on the interview team
Determine if outside selection tools are appropriate
Structure an interview process
Partner with a niche search firm
Interview candidates using the interview guides
Interview team meets to discuss candidates
Top 3 candidates are ranked in order of priority
Offer is made to highest ranked candidate
There is more detail involved with each step, but you get the picture. The key is to know what you are selecting for in advance -- and it is not the job description "requirements"!
Implement a simple, but disciplined, selection process today and you'll see a ROI through retention and increase productivity.
Since 2006, MMS has been involved in building their clients’ senior management teams as well as their sales, medical management, and HIM staff.
When you need top talent, you want the best and you want it quickly. That can only happen when your search partner understands your business and your needs. The MMS Perfect Match search process delivers the comprehensive search results you need.
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