Who’s in YOUR wallet?

Is one of your 2011 business goals growing your top line revenue?

My Vistage members and clients still struggle with hiring that next sales superstar and I’ve been brought into the hiring process of hundreds of sales representatives over my career. One of the traits that separates the good ones from the pack was a positive attitude.

Last week I had dinner with Tom Venable, who I’ve known for over 30 years, and his father Larry was the Training Manager for the Visual Systems Division at 3M in 1976 and one of my mentors.

Tom was recently appointed as the Executive VP for Rainmaker System, a sales process and lead generation service provider, because of his success as the VP of Sales for Digital River where he delivered several years of solid growth and profit. He has a simplified method of talent acquisition based on the belief that aptitude multiplied by attitude equals superior results.

“The real winners in life combine great aptitude and great attitude,” said Venable, and it is represented by the Green box in the figure. Greg Smith, co-owner of Jamail Smith Construction has found that when a new hire has a “self starter” attitude success and measurable results are just around the corner. Individuals in the upper right quadrant listen to their customers, determine how the customer or clients likes to buy by asking great questions vs. focusing on features, advantages and benefits. Let’s classify this box as your “A” players.

The Blue box represents people that are really happy with themselves because even though they don’t have great aptitude, they are satisfied with their space in life because of their attitude. These loyal, dependable employees give 100% towards whatever they or you ask them to take on. These should be your “B” players. Monthly or quarterly performance contracts managed monthly with scheduled one-to-one sessions focusing on their strengths, results and self assessed improvement initiatives works best here.

The Yellow box represents good results but the person may not be very happy because of their attitude. This is where I see the talent acquisition process breaking down. When you have a $500,000 or $5 million dollar revenue objective, quota, territory or expected top line annual revenue target and that new hire only delivers 70% or 80%, the lost revenue and profit is substantial. These are your “C” players and you can’t afford to keep them. They are costing you money if you don’t believe me, email me and let’s do the math together. Over the past two years, most of you have eliminated your “C” employees or at least your should have.

And as for the Pink box, as author Jim Collins wrote in his book Good to Great, make sure you have the right people on the bus (upper boxes), then see that they are in the right seat on the bus and redirect the career path of those that need to get off the bus.

Tools such as Meyers-Briggs, Birkman or the CPQ assessment test for sales are excellent in assessing the DNA or fall back behavior of key direct reports, your sales executives or business development hires. But I would guess that most of you have made a decision within 15 minutes of conducting the interview, right?

When a ship misses the harbor it is rarely the fault of the harbor. Here’s to having a prosperous 2011!

Published by edstillman

I grew up in Carlsbad, north San Diego County, lost my dad as a teenager, went into the USAF for four years and hired on with 3M in 1969. Received my AA from Santa Barbara City College, BA and Masters from Redlands University and after 33 plus years, I retired from 3M in 2002. As I look back on my life, I have been creating myself and developing my skill sets to be a business coach and a Vistage Chair. I am president of SEOT, a "personal improvement" consulting firm spending most of my time working with Central Texas executives running small to medium size for-profit companies who are focusing on improving their profitability greater than their competition. My area of interest is assisting senior executives in creating a better balance between business commitments and personal relationships. I also facilatate three leadership labs each consisting of a dozen owners, presidents and CEOs. We meet monthly both in a group setting as well as in a 1-to-1 coaching session. Our focus is to sharpen each others' skills in becoming better leaders, making better decisions and taking ourselves and companies to that next level. Who are we? My members are experienced top executives who recognize that they don’t have all the answers and who actively seek the company of successful peers—both to give and receive insights and ideas. My members mine the 200 plus years of chief executive experience that comes together in our monthly meetings and members are eager to offer their own experience and insights in the process. As a group, we spend our time exploring topics members can't discuss anywhere else. My members have many other places where they can engage in idle, "cocktail party" chatter. Our mission is to provide the setting for discussing the "undiscussable." Where or who can you go to for confidential, honest feedback to assist you in minimizing your personal "Worry List"?

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