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One Change that Will Immediately Improve Your Hiring Process

Since accountability is a critically important driver of success, more organizations should consider it at the earliest stage of engaging potential hires.
By Chris McGoff

How often do you hear organizations talk about the importance of accountability? It's listed in their core values, encouraged between employees, and promoted with customers. Since accountability is a critically important driver of success, more organizations should consider accountability at the earliest stage of engaging potential hires.

Think about it -- most org charts are riddled with nouns to describe their employees. The little boxes are filled with labels like Vice President of Sales, Marketing Director, Chief of Operations, Human Resource Manager, and Chief Information Officer. It's a diagram of nouns. These titles describe who people are, but do little to tell us what people actually do and do nothing to make clear people's accountabilities.

Drill down to discover where the action and the accountability can be found. It's in the verbs. Verbs matter because they are powerful, and some verbs are more powerful than others. For example, the title VP of Sales might be followed by the job description, "Lead company sales efforts." "Lead" is a nice sounding verb, but it offers no real accountability. What if the description of the job for VP of Sales was, "Close sufficient deals to make it possible for the VP of Operations to meet or exceed monthly billing targets for staff." The verb "close" is much more powerful than the verb "lead." How the VP of Sales closes these deals is up to him or her, but the verb makes them accountable.

Rethinking Your Verbs

Next time you are writing a job description, consider your verbs. Using powerful verbs in a job description can attract the type of employee who is willing to be accountable. High power verbs = high accountability and weak verbs = weak accountability.

What kinds of verbs are embedded in your organization's job descriptions or in your own resume? Use the following guide to do a "verb audit" and see if your organization can use more powerful verbs to attract accountable employees.

Job seekers -- you should use this tip too. Take a few minutes to do a "verb audit." Using the list provided, how might you improve the verbs in your resume, your online profiles, and your professional bio? Being associated with powerful verbs makes you more significant and accountable, which can establish the case for more compensation. Power up the verbs and power up your wallet.

The Verb Ladder

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Whether you are a hiring manager or a job seeker, don't be surprised if you find weak verbs lurking around. That's because we instinctively know, the weaker the verbs the harder it is to judge. High power verbs create the possibility for judgment and failure. We live our lives desperately trying to avoid shame. Hunt for weak verbs and replace them with powerful verbs to power up your employees and your organization. Or better still, call us and we will revamp your job description and/or your job posting to help find you superior performers rather than just average.




Top 10 Reasons Why Sales Don't Grow

Posted by Dave Kurlan 

Have any of these things ever happened to you?  

  • Physical issues - low energy, prolonged pain or discomfort
  • Automobile issues - vibration under the seat or in the steering wheel, car accident
  • Home issues - leaks, faulty electrical, down trees or power lines from storm damage
  • Legal or Tax issues

If they did happen to you, what did you do? Did you call the doctor, car dealer, electrician, plumber, insurance company, lawyer or accountant?  Or did you hope it would all go away by itself?

Of course you made the call because things don't fix themselves.

Yet, despite knowing that things don't fix themselves, thousands of executives believe that sales problems will resolve themselves, change, and improve.  Why?

That's the key question.  Because when you don't know exactly what's wrong, it's much easier to remain in denial.

Most companies all deal with the exact same issues with their sales organizations. Flat or lethargic sales growth, the bulk of the revenue coming from a small percentage of the salespeople, not enough new business, difficulty selling against low priced competition, longer sales cycles, lower win rates, and on and on and on.  It's universal frustration and companies seem to fall squarely into one of four categories on this:

  1. They identify the cause and fix it.  "Hooray.  Sales and profits are on the rise!"
  2. They don't identify the cause but try to fix it through guesswork.  "Well, that didn't work.  We wasted another year!"
  3. They identify the cause but don't fix it. "We can do this ourselves."  Sure you can.
  4. They don't identify the cause and don't fix. "Hey, everyone has these issues!"

While most companies have similar issues, the causes are usually different.  There can be any number of problems that contribute to the observable issues, but these are the 10 I see most often:

  1. Recruiting - ineffective process and/or inconsistent sales selection
  2. On Boarding - is neglected, shortcuts are taken, or it's done poorly
  3. Coaching - sales managers don't coach enough and don't do it effectively
  4. Accountability - there isn't any so it's very easy for salespeople to fall behind
  5. Messaging - you wouldn't believe how bad - how inconsistent - the messaging is at most companies
  6. Sales Process - there usually isn't one and when there is it's either awful or nobody follows it
  7. Training - it's usually either do it yourself bad or it's not provided at all
  8. Gaps - skill gaps that prevent salespeople from being able to take a consultative approach or sell value
  9. Sales DNA Gaps - the strengths required to support tactics, strategies, process and methodology are missing
  10. Pipeline - usually a mess - filled with unqualified opportunities that will never close

Yet it's not enough to simply acknowledge these problems. Even if you are aware that some or all of these problems exist, whether or not they can be fixed is another story altogether!  That's because it is all about capabilities.  What are they capable of today, can they become more capable, how much more capable, and what will it take?  

To answer those questions we need to know if the people trainable and coachable.  Can sales leadership learn to coach effectively and hold salespeople accountable for the required changes?  Can the sales culture be improved to become a coaching culture?  Is leadership strong enough to replace under performers who can't be coached up?  Which skills and competencies must be developed?  How do you deal with the weaknesses in Sales DNA?  If recruiting and selection are to blame, how can it be improved?  How do you incorporate best practices into a inadequate sales process and/or methodology?  Do we need a playbook?  Is it our scripts?

The problem with improving sales performance is that the more you know, the more questions there will be.  And that is why it is so insane when so many executives ignore the problem, pretend they know what to do about it, and don't call for help call until the revenue issue reaches such a state that there isn't enough time or money to fix it.

It is so easy to blame the sales force but don't. They didn't recruit themselves, they didn't train themselves, they didn't set unreasonable expectations, and they didn't make themselves suck.  The blame gets placed higher up - where a false sense of hope and optimism live.

Ask me about a sales force evaluation - knowledge is power!


Recruiting and Engaging the Mobile Workforce

business people with tablet pc and smartphonesMobile devices like smartphones and tablets have increased user power in ways we couldn’t have imagined a few years ago. Weighing an average of 120 grams, these sleek devices allow users to order take-out, schedule appointments, purchase a new outfit for the weekend, book last-minute flights, even search and apply for jobs! Mobile job application is definitely a game changer for hiring managers, especially since the economy has shifted power to the job seeker, and the candidate pool for top talent and high potentials is growing more and more competitive. “With the survey results indicating that 47 percent of employers also intend to raise starting salaries, [Matt Ferguson, CEO of CareerBuilder] predicts hiring will become even more competitive.” Job seekers have more resources than ever because of the Internet to do thorough research on employers that they are interested in—before they even apply. If your organization doesn’t have a strong presence on these resource channels, it is unlikely that you will appear on a candidate’s reconnaissance radar. Your website and career site may look great from your desktop, but how easy is it to navigate from a mobile device or tablet? Industry experts have advised organizations to reduce the number of clicks on mobile-optimized sites to prevent job seekers from leaving their page and abandoning the application process.

CareerBuilder’s mid-year job forecast revealed that 49 percent of the surveyed employers anticipate recruiting additional permanent, full-time staff by the end of the year. This is great news for the (three out of four) full-time employed workers who are actively seeking new job opportunities. According to CareerBuilder, there are four phases of a candidate’s job search:

Phase 1: Orientation

“This phase consists of a candidate's self-evaluation and evaluation of the market.  During this phase, candidates will update their resumes; search for jobs on major  search engines including Google, Bing, Yahoo; network with colleagues, family and  friends; and visit job boards to assess the market.”


Phase 2: Consideration

“During this phase, the job search moves from solitary practice to an interactive social experience. Candidates tap into their social networks to get a more transparent look at the companies they are considering. At this point candidates will visit companies'  career sites; network with colleagues, family and friends; and check out companies'  social media presence.”


Phase 3: Action

“In this phase, candidates are actively applying to jobs. During this phase, candidates  will conduct in-depth research on your organization and form opinions based on the  application experience, which will influence their decision to apply in the future or  recommend this company to others.”


Phase 4: Engagement 

“In this last phase, candidates are interacting with employers, interviewing, and considering job offers. This is where your earlier employment brand efforts pay off.”

It is not enough that we have identified where today’s job seekers conduct their job search, we must also know how they got there. Mark Iadone at reports that, “almost one third of the visitors that reach a site via search are coming from some sort of mobile device, whether it be a phone or a tablet.” In his article, Iadone discusses the importance of a mobile strategy for your hiring and recruiting processes, and also shares why your organization needs to be able to serve job seekers from a mobile device or tablet.


Three ways to optimize your mobile presence to better attract high potentials and job seekers.

  1. Take advantage of social media.

Use company events as an opportunity to take pictures of co-workers, with consent, to give prospects a glimpse into your company’s culture. Share information about your products or services, upcoming events, and tout employee recognition.

  1. Provide valuable content.

Professional networking websites like LinkedIn make it easy for employers to connect with job seekers. Post content that pertains to your company, like case studies, press releases, employee testimonials, interview tips, and most importantly job opportunities. Recruiting high potentials from sites like LinkedIn allows hiring managers to gauge and estimate the validity of a candidate’s experience.

  1. Consider a mobile app.

According to Iadone, many organizations have invested in this platform to complement their published content, build stronger brand awareness, and improve user accessibility for applying and inquiring about open positions. Companies maximize the app-specific features to alert users using “push notifications” about new content and job listings. Although apps are not the right technical investment for every company, I wouldn’t be surprised if more companies began using apps specifically for “convenient” hiring and application purposes.

How do you recruit high potentials through mobile devices? Share your thoughts with us in the comment section below.




5 Cost-Saving HR Tips for Small Business Owners

topleft-headerSmall businesses, account for about half of the nation’s working population (120 million people). This week is National Small Business Week. Every day this week, there will be a NSBW event in one of the following cities: Miami/Boca Raton, Los Angeles, San Antonio, New York and Washington, D.C. If you can’t make it to the main five NSBW events, you can still watch the live at   In honor of small business week, we are sharing our top 5 favorite HR tips to help you avoid costly errors.

  1. Employee Handbook: As many as 42% of small business owners do not have written company policies that are given to employees. Without having clear policies and procedures that all employees are expected to uphold, a small business is opening themselves up to costly legal fees. Hiring, termination, attendance, vacation, and general expectations should be written and presented to each new employee.
  2. Move Quickly: One of the biggest mistakes small business owners make is that they move too slowly in the hiring process. With the economy recovering there are more jobs available. The best candidates usually have options. Avoid dragging out the hiring process by scheduling all interviews the same day and asking each candidate the same list of questions. This way, it is possible to make a decision by the end of the day.
  3. Go Digital: Small business owners can get stuck in the paper trap of writing down work schedules, vacation, project management, and keeping track of time. Lose the paper and instead focus on technology-based solutions. This will lower administrative upkeep and will allow you to focus more on the business.
  4. Don’t forget to praise: Running a small business takes focus and energy. Often times managers get overly caught up in profits, sales, and bottom dollars and forget to praise and reward the team of people that are helping to make it all happen. Set performance goals and rewards for those employees to attain them.
  5. Get a partner: According to Bob DelPonte, vice president and general manager for the small and midsize business group at Kronos Inc., successful small business owners know the importance of forming partnerships. “Partnering with payroll service bureaus, recruiting organizations, and technology vendors can help recruit, retain, manage, and grow a small or medium businesses’ workforce, while employees can concentrate on the business and focus on their own customers, products and services,” he concluded