David M. Madeo, President of Tilli LLC, and Certified Sales Coach and Trainer, recently sat down with Geoff Farwell, Morgan Hunter Senior Recruiter in the Sales & Marketing division, to discuss hiring and training trends in the sales industry in Part 2 of this Q&A series.
I have thousands of hours of coaching many different clients, from sales reps to managers to executives. One topic that continually comes up is sales reps looking to advance into management or an executive level. What advice would you give them to continue upward motion into higher-level roles?
I think upward mobility is a natural desire for most professionals in any skillset, and it can be rewarding in a variety of ways. However, one thing many good salespeople find out when they move into a management position after being a full-time producer is the financial ceiling. The top producers in most organizations make the most money, so going from that to management can be a drastic change. That said, if you are looking to go from producer to management, my advice would be this: Make it known to leadership that you want to be a leader. Be patient and remain focused on production. Lead by example and be consistent. Keep a journal of successes you have had, and how you got there. Add a section in that journal of ideas you have if you were to lead a team. When the time is right, you will be able to lean on your journal.
I have seen many salespeople further their career with a variety of tools we offer, but jumping to leadership can be a challenge. How should someone who has never managed, but had a high-level of success in sales, approach an interview for a sales leadership role?
Leaning on the success you have had will go a long way. Most successful salespeople will have quantifiable numbers on their resume to back up that success. That said, in order to take it a step further, you may want to remember and rehearse how you got to those numbers. Whether collaborating with team members and leadership during your sales cycle with a specific target or networking your way to key decision makers within a corporation, you want to know the history of how you became successful within specific deals and who helped along the way. This also goes back to the journal I discussed in the previous answer. When you document your successes, you can always go back and replay how it happened and not let details get lost in time. The specifics of your experience can show your commitment to knowing how you got there and can allow the confidence of a hiring manager to give you a shot.
Seeing the difference in a salesperson from the start our program to who they become after they get through it is very rewarding to me. When recruiting, how much value do you see in a candidate that has professional sales training on their resume?
Great question! I have been through the professional sales training myself and could not believe the difference in my sales behaviors and confidence by the time I was done. Even now, many years removed from the classroom side of sales training, I credit that tutelage for where I am today. I see tons of value in a candidate with professional sales training, and I will always highlight that to my clients when presenting someone.
Without divulging all your secrets, can you describe some of the tools you use as a recruiter to find the right prospects, and why there is an advantage to using you for hiring vs. a company going through that process on their own?
As recruiters, we certainly rely on tools such as job boards and LinkedIn to post roles and generate interest, but anyone can do that. The key to this business is tenure. In my Sales & Marketing division alone, there are three of us that make up over 35 years of experience. That’s 35 years of relationship building and meeting people. We are extremely connected in the Kansas City community. At a bare minimum, chances are we know somebody that is close to somebody that fits a role we are working on. We leverage that experience with every single job we work on, and the reach we have in the city is impossible to teach.
The main advantage to using us is we are going to show you truly qualified candidates quickly. One thing we hear quite often from our new clients is they posted a job and looked through hundreds of resumes of candidates that aren’t even remotely qualified for the role. That’s extremely time consuming and inefficient. We pride ourselves on high efficiency and experience to match a pro with a client. It’s a competitive advantage for our clients to have that speed to market with fantastic candidates they likely wouldn’t find on their own.
What matters more when you qualify candidates for roles — their personalities or their work experience and skills?
Ahh yes, Soft Skill vs. Hard Skill. When we are taking job orders with clients, we dig deep to find out exactly who they are looking for. Personality, skill set, success, tenure at previous roles, education, and so on. By the time we are done taking a full job order from the client, we have a very calculated idea of their ideal candidate. When you look for scientists, accountants or coders, there are several specific “hard skills” the candidate must have before they will even get a seat at the table. That typically remains true for the marketing jobs we fill as well.
When it comes to Sales, the pre-requisites for the role vary by industry, but primarily the candidate must have tremendous “soft skills”. The intangibles revolve around confidence and responsibility. These things are ingrained in you through experience, but don’t necessarily require years of schooling or specific industry experience. Although both are wildly important, every candidate must ‘sell’ themselves in an interview. The interviewer must like you or really believe in your intangibles if you are going to move forward in the process. Based on a thorough evaluation of our clients’ needs, we know just how heavy to weigh personality. At the end of the day, your skillset is similar to others that are interviewing. Therefore, more often than not, your personality can determine if you get the opportunity to move forward.
Give me an idea of the number of candidates you typically talk with for a role you are looking to fill for a client. Of those, how many do you present to your client?
There are several layers to our process, and that is what really makes this job fun! We really challenge ourselves in finding candidates that will make our clients have a tough decision on who to offer the job to. We go through five steps before ever sending a candidate to an interview.
- Research candidates on paper
- Bundle promising candidates
- Qualify those bundled candidates over the phone
- Interview the qualified candidates face-to-face if we haven’t already
- Package the best of those candidates and send to client (3-5 total)
When you ask about the number of candidates that we talk to for a role, I would say the average is 10-12. However, you can see in our process that there are a couple layers of work before talking to a candidate. We may research 50 to 60 candidates for a Director of Sales role to come up with 15 to 18 candidates (most of which we have connected with in the past at some level). From there, we will call them to begin our qualifying process, as all parties have to want to take the next steps. At that point, we will schedule an internal interview if we haven’t met them already. If the interest is there on both sides, we will submit them to our client. By this point, we have usually whittled it down to three to five great candidates that our client reviews and interviews.
Training and coaching for all specialties continue to be a strong initiative for more and more companies. Do you believe that makes candidates rise to the top of the pack who have been professionally trained and/or certified in their skillset? And as a follow-up, do people ever “graduate” from training?
WITHOUT QUESTION, those who have certifications and professional training have a leg up on those who do not. We filled a role for a Marketing Manager that was going to have to wear a handful of hats and get into the weeds to pick up her team from time to time. It came down to three candidates that are all having success in their current position and were able to quantify that success. The company was having trouble picking who they wanted because they all had great qualities. The differentiator in their decision was the candidate who was certified in Google Analytics and Google AdWords. While those certifications were not requirements of the role, the one who had the certifications was offered the position and accepted.
As for the follow-up question, nobody will ever graduate from training. Continuing education is a way of life. Whether it’s professional training or hands-on experience, you will always need training. No matter how much you know or how much success you have, there will always be an opportunity to get better at what you do.
Contact Geoff Farwell to discuss your Sales & Marketing hiring needs
Direct: (913) 409-1183
Contact David Madeo to discuss sales training programs and to receive a free consultation!
Direct: (816) 529-8255
David is the founder and creator of tilli™. A 2005 graduate with a B.A. in Marketing and Communications, he has always been captivated by the influence of others in a business environment and the direct effect this has on a company’s survival and growth. Building on nearly 10 successful years of medical device sales, his career portfolio includes startups to worldwide corporations in a wide array of healthcare environments, including device manufacturers and distributors of home medical and capital equipment, OR, PT/OT, CHT, ATC, skilled nursing, assisted living, home health, hospice, encompassing acute and non-acute settings. He currently consults, coaches, speaks and trains within various industries including healthcare, mortgage, real estate, financial planning, construction, and entrepreneurship among others.
Geoff has been in the Staffing industry since 2010 – placing permanent, temporary, and temporary to hire professionals in a wide range of fields. Geoff grew up in Denver, CO, and landed at the University of Kansas where he studied Health and Exercise Science. During college, he started his career in sales/marketing and never let up. Since 2010, he has developed a reputation in the industry for acclimating to his clients’ and candidates’ needs as they grow and look for new, promising opportunities. His ability to adapt as the industry evolves has placed him in prime position to cater to our customers’ ever-changing visions, as well as our candidates’ desires to start the next chapter in their careers.