Situation: A CEO is in the process of rebuilding the firm following a period of inactivity. Historically their marketing was word-of-mouth. How do you reestablishing a network which has been dormant for a period, find new clients and communicate an updated value proposition? How do you rebuild a company?
Advice from the CEOs:
Track down and visit old customers and contacts. Let them know that you are rebuilding the company and ask for their advice and help.
Use LinkedIn to find and reconnect with old contacts. Have breakfast or lunch with them, even those who are retired. Reestablish old connections and ask for an update on their companies and activities.
Focus on your knowledge base and the results that you’ve produced historically. There are more technology choices available now than there were in the past. Help old and prospective new clients to navigate the array of choices.
Development assessments to show your prospects where they are and where they need to focus their effort.
Many have built companies on their own – without professional assistance. The results often look good on the surface but lack a solid foundation. You have the perspective and expertise to bring it all together in a coherent and cohesive strategy.
Rejoin professional associations and networks that you may have dropped.
Go virtual – use virtual assistants to manage expenses while you rebuild.
Do webinars, and give talks on developing and executing a successful plan.
Create some pro-bono or low-cost programs for charities. Your target is the Board Members who may become future clients.
Situation: A Silicon Valley company finds it difficult to find good candidates locally, and also to attract qualified distant candidates to the Bay Area. They want to explore hiring talented individuals out of local colleges and developing them within the company. What are best practices hiring right out of college?
Advice from the CEOs:
Hiring out of college or graduate school is a good way to find long-term hires who can grow into positions. It is less useful if your need is for experienced and tenured individuals who can immediately get up to speed in a position of significant responsibility.
As in any hiring situation, you should review your hiring process before you start to hire. Many companies hire locally based on who applies or who’s a friend of a friend, rather than making an effort to recruit the best candidates.
What is your infrastructure? Do you have a system for identifying candidates who best fit your culture and needs? Do you have personnel who can mentor a new college hire, or are you willing to devote significant time to this?
An alternative is to hire consultants to develop a recruiting process or to mentor the new hire in specific areas of development during their first year or two on the job.
One CEO sponsors an annual competition at Santa Clara University for papers in his company’s field. This has won him considerable support at the school, and gives him access to promising students, several of whom he has hired. An advantage of this program is that the company gets to know the individuals and the quality of their work before making a commitment to offer them either an internship or a full-time position.
Be cautious using candidate assessment tools with college hires. An individual’s profile may shift significantly once they start working because there is a significant shift in priorities once an individual leaves student life.
Situation: We hired a new sales person 3 months ago. To date, the sales person has signed some good customers, but only generated $5K in sales. How patient should the CEO be with this person, how much time should be allowed to demonstrate performance, and what metrics do other Forum members use to assess or incentivize sales performance?
Advice from the CEOs:
Set 90 day targets that you expect for the individual to reach:
X new accounts.
Y in sales revenue.
Other measures as appropriate to your business.
Set these targets WITH the individual, not FOR them so that the individual has ownership of the targets.
Monitor frequently. If the trend is below the target, ask what the individual plans to do to meet or exceed the target.
Targets are best set at the time of hiring. If the individual cannot approach these numbers, then cut sooner rather than later.
How do you differentiate the sales person from the sales talker?
Based on results. Expect to see results quickly.
The traits that correlate with success are not traits that reps develop after they are hired. They have to have these from the beginning. Your hiring process must select for these traits.
There are a number of companies offering tools that will help you to identify whether candidates for a sales position possess the traits that you deem most important. Among these is TTI – Target Training International – www.ttidisc.net and Sandler Sales – www.sandler.com.