Is All The Sales Noise Keeping You From Active Listening?

There is a lot of noise within the sales advice world. Each month if not week, sales professionals are bombarded with the latest “sales flavor”  from this or that small business consultant, sales coach or author. All this sales noise can be a barrier to the basics of the buying/selling process.

Zig Ziglar said it best:

“Sales is the transference of feelings.”

If all that noise is a barrier to the transfer of those feelings, then maybe it is time to rethink about returning to the basics of active listening.

In business and in life, we hear, we listen and then we actively listen.  This third type of hearing is the most valuable because the action is very intentional. However when we allow all that sales noise into our sales engagement mindset, we may be losing opportunities.

Active listening is all about achieving clear communication between you and your prospect or sales lead.  When I wrote “Be the Red Jacket in the Sea of Gray Suits, The Keys to Unlocking Sales Success”, I included this acronym for CLEAR communication.

Clarity – To separate the tangibles from the intangibles

Legitimize – To legitimize the real problems not the symptoms posing as problems

Emotion – To hear the emotions that are within the verbal, non-verbal and para-verbal communication

Agreement – To discover agreement by discovering common ground that will continue to build trust

Retention – To truly hear and remember what the other person said and probably told others but they (possibly your competitors) failed to actively listen

All the noise from the sales experts sometimes keeps us from engaging in clear communication because we are so focused on their advice from open ended questions to determining our next sales or style move, etc. we become lost. During those lost moments, we lose opportunities and probably more important lose our own voice, our own authenticity.

Shutting out all that noise is not easy because of the pressures of cash flow to achieving sales goals not to mention all of our own personal dreams and desires.  Those pressures are some of the reasons we hear that noise and fail to actively listen.

All we can do is to be intentional and recognize there is no quick fix, as much of the noise is a response to those seeking the quick fix solutions. Sales is simple, though not necessarily easily. We as sales professionals can be far more successful when we return to the basics of active listening and at least for the moment shut out all that sales noise.


By  Leanne Hoagland-Smith

Leanne Hoagland-Smith is an author, speaker, executive coach and Chief Results Officer for ADVANCED SYSTEMS, an executive coaching and talent management firm that discover the gaps between today’s results and tomorrow’s goals. She has been recognized as one of the top 10 women in sales to follow on Twitter and will be a judge for the first North American Women in Sales Awards (  to be held in May of 2015 in Boston, MA.

Leanne Hoagland-Smith


  1. Accept responsibility for your actions, attitude, and influence.
  2. Care about others, yourself, and big dreams.
  3. Enjoy the journey. Make sure each step matters.
  4. Lead by example. Lead when no one is following.
  5. Open your mind to the possibility that there is an option you haven’t considered.
  6. Reduce the amount of time you spend “thinking about doing” instead of doing.
  7. Settle your differences with class, maturity, and dignity.
  8. Teach those who want to learn.
  9. Account for how you spend your money, your time, and your passion.
  10. Carry your emotions on your sleeve and the burdens of those weaker than you on your back.
  11. Count the number of times you keep trying as the measure of your success
  12. Examine your motives, your bank account balance, and the direction you’re headed — every day.
  13. Learn a little bit each day from something that goes horribly wrong and frightfully right.
  14. Order your relationships, your priorities, your beliefs, and your daily schedule.
  15. Refer to women as ladies and to men as a gentleman. A little respect goes a long way.
  16. Shake hands firmly. Look at the person you’re speaking with in the eye.
  17. Tell the truth but be kind about it. Especially when it’s hard to hear.
  18. Achieve big goals by working hard — not by looking for shortcuts.
  19. Catch a case of gratitude. Let it infect everything that you do.
  20. Cover up your weaknesses by focusing on your strengths.
  21. Have a kind word ready for anyone you meet.
  22. Leave your negative thoughts in bed when you get up in the morning.
  23. Tend your relationships like a garden. Plant seeds, nurture often, and reap bountifully.
  24. Act like a hero every day of your life.
  25. Create a legacy of helping other people reaching the finish line with you.
  26. Expect life to treat you unfairly (often).
  27. Head towards where you want to be. Don’t waste time looking back.
  28. Lend a hand, a dollar, or a bit of advice — as often as you can.
  29. Own your results. Jump to your own conclusions.
  30. Refuse to believe that anything is impossible for you to achieve.
  31. Share the spotlight with those who helped you get there in the first place.
  32. Test your limits. Don’t ever be satisfied by what you did yesterday.
  33. Change the conversation. Own the thoughts you have. Choose to be positive.
  34. Hear the silent cry for help coming from those in need around you.
  35. Let criticism drive you to work harder, be more focused, and live more boldly.
  36. Cut back on what you spend money on. Big dreams need a big budget.
  37. Express kindness and gratitude a little more often than you do now.
  38. Like yourself enough to keep trying even when you screw up.
  39. Perform like the world is watching even when no seems to notice that you exist.
  40. Release your inhibitions. Dream like anything is possible.
  41. Shout. Scream. Fight. Lead. Live. Love. Never stop trying.
  42. Throw your worries at the altar of activity. Keep working towards where you want to be.
  43. Claim the high ground with you attitudes and actions.
  44. Dance when you’re happy. Cry when you’re sad.
  45. Face the fact that you’re not going to get it right the first time around.
  46. Hold onto inspirational words, big dreams, and winning moments. Let them empower you.
  47. Link your life to good people and good things around you.
  48. Place yourself in the scary position where success is hard to achieve. It will make you tougher.
  49. Remember the hard working people around you who help you get to where you want to be.
  50. Shut your mouth on angry words, unnecessary criticism, or passive aggression.
  51. Train yourself to stop thinking negative thoughts. Be deliberate about protecting your thoughts.
  52. Aim for perfection. Keep working until you get there.
  53. Fail with grace. Don’t blame other people for your own unsuccessful attempts at greatness.
  54. Break the bonds of debt. Spend small now. Live big later.
  55. Drop anything (or anyone) who is holding you back from where you want to be.
  56. Realize your full potential by working tirelessly to be the best version of you each day.
  57. Send flowers when you do something wrong. A proper apology goes a long way.
  58. Receive criticism for what it is — the opinions of other people. Use what helps you best.
  59. Separate facts from fear. Don’t make decisions based on how things “might go”. Live inspired.
  60. Grow stronger each day — financially, mentally, and physically.
  61. Laugh at yourself. Learn to be humble. Love the opportunity to be better today than you were yesterday.
  62. Handle bad news with dignity. Handle good news with humility.
  63. Talk less than you listen. Think more than either of those.
  64. End any nonsense that saps your budget, your motivation, and your free time.
By Dan Waldschmidt
Dan Waldschmidt is an international business strategist, speaker, author, and extreme athlete.  His consulting firm solves complex marketing and business strategy problems for savvy companies all over the world. Dow Jones calls his Edgy Conversations blog one of the top sales sites on the internet. He’s been profiled in Business Week, INC Magazine, BBC, Fox News, The Today Show, and Business Insider, has been the featured guest on dozens of radio programs, and has published hundreds of articles on progressive business strategy. He is author of Edgy Conversations: How Ordinary People Achieve Outrageous Success.
Dan Waldschmidt

Why You’re Not Going To Get That Sales Job You Want!

Here at A Sales Guy we’re looking for an outside sales, business development badass. As you could prolly figure, we go about it a little different. We don’t ask for a resume and a cover letter. We actually ask people to send us an email outlining why they would be a badass sales person for us and to share their social media presence.

You can see the entire job description here for our Sales Badass. It’s not your typical job description, that’s for sure.

Sadly, less than 10% of the applicants actually follow the direction. We only had 2 of 33 applicants do what we asked. It blows me away.

In addition to those two, I did get an email directly from a guy who was very interested. Here’s the exchange;

Jim, Id like to find out more about Sales Guy, I really want to join your organization. Infact, about two years ago was thinking of starting a company called Sales Guy. Go figure it already exists. Interested!!!!!!! (xxx) xxx-xxxx

Now, if you read the job description, this question is absolutely a waste of time. The job description is fairly robust, including goals and objectives. If there something specific he wanted to know, he should have asked. Also, he’s given me nothing to take the time to talk with him.

To help him out, I responded. He did at least reach out directly. My response;

Sell me then, your note below has given me no compelling reason to invest the time.  

His note didn’t give me any cause to move him forward or invest my time.

This is his response;

Jim, perhaps skills are a little rusty!!! Sold a Million dollars a year of pancake mix at 2.00 a lb cost was .30 cents a lb. sold 15000 lbs a yr in AZ alone. My resume may look fluffy bc it states waffles, however its really skilled and talented description of a real good Sales Guy.

This was his attempt to sell me on his ability to work for A Sales Guy. Seriously?

Look people, a job interview is a sale. All the same rules of sales apply to searching for a job. If you can’t sell yourself, then how are you going to convince the hiring manager you can sell their product or service. This poor guy may have been really “interested!!!!!!” but I don’t think he can sell. It’s that simple. There was nothing he did that said to me, this cat can sell, I need to meet him.

If you find yourself looking for a job, treat it like a sale. Leverage all of your sales talent. Do a discovery call, ask questions, uncover the hiring managers problem, taylor a solution, challenge their assumptions, teach them something new, provide insights etc. A hiring manager is no different than a buyer. They’re just buying a person rather than a product or service. They have a problem that needs to be fixed. They have  goals that need to be reached. And, if you can demonstrate how you can help them get there, then you’re an applicant worth looking at.

The job search process in sales is an audition. It’s one of the few jobs where you get to audition (show your skills) in the process. Why squander it?

Don’t make the mistake this guy made. Give prospective employers something to latch on to. Give them something that says, this person is exactly what I need to get the job done.

And no, I didn’t get back to him again. He blew his chance.

How You Learn Is As Important As What You Learn

My boy Mike Kunkle had one of the best posts on learning and sales advice I’ve seen in a long time. If you’re about improvement and getting better and find yourself overwhelmed by all the sales books, tips, tricks, advice and consultation out there, his post will relieve some of your anxiety.

This is the money quote:

Advice about how to figure out what works for you, is far more valuable than advice about what to do.

Mike nails this.

I know, coming from a guy who doles out more than his share of advice, tips and advice,  you’d think I’d fall on the other side of this argument, but I don’t.

What I like about what Mike is saying is that every environment is different and it’s incumbent upon us that we embrace the nuances of our unique environment when taking sales or sales leadership advice.

Mike is a rather black and white guy with a very analytical mind, so reading between the lines is critical when reading his stuff and this post is no different. For example, there are certain core elements to selling that cross all aspects of sales, regardless of the industry, complexity, customer type etc. Jill Konrath’s book S.N.A.P Selling illustrates this the best. Her focus on trigger events, value propositions, understanding decision processes etc. are universal. Context plays a role in her advice, but t0 a very small degree. Her advice is universal and that’s what makes it so good. I don’t think Mikes advice plays well with universal or core elements of sales.

I’ve been a proponent of what I call deliberate learning for a long time. Deliberate learning starts with the recognition of a gap in ones skills or knowledge and developing a learning or growth plan to overcome the gap. At the core of filling the gap are blogs, training, books, etc. We can’t get better without the absorption of new information or knowledge.

Therefore, the key takeaway in Mikes post is alignment. Mike advocates understanding how the information or advice we’re getting fits with our unique and special circumstances. It’s sound advice. Build a filter that strains all the information, content, approaches, and ideas through your world. Read everything from the perspective of, how does this work in my world?  Ask, how would my clients respond to this? How does my sales cycle affect this? How can this improve what I’m doing now? How does this contrast to what I’m doing today?

The better your filter is, the more you’ll get from the information, the better your learning experience will be.

Let’s make no mistakes. In spite of Mike’s title. His post isn’t about “tips, tricks and advice.” It’s about learning and you control your own learning.

Learn how to learn, it’s a key skill.



Why Quota Is A Shitty Goal For Sales People

I can’t tell you how many sales people have the same shitty goal. With out fail, when I ask sales people what their goal  for the year is, almost all say the same thing.

Their goal is almost inevitably “quota.”

It’s amazing I haven’t been fired from a client yet, because every time I hear this, I blow a gasket. Quota as an individual goal is a cop out. It’s living in the cheap seats and I let the sales team know it.

When sales people set their goal to make quota, they are accepting the status quo. They’re allowing the company to dictate what they should do. They are taking very little ownership in their own growth and development and that’s sad.

Quota is just that quota. It’s the floor. Quota is the bare minimum the company expects from you, so why the fuck is it your goal?

Having a goal that is the bare minimum is not a goal, that’s punting.

You are the CEO of your own business. A business of one. Therefore, setting goals should be part of your plan, not something you default to. When we set our own goals, we take ownership. We become the stewards of our own success or failure. Don’t let any organization set your bar for success, set your own.

Only 50% of sales people make quota. There are a lot of reasons for this, but I’m quite certain that one of the reasons is so many sales people set quota as their goal. They live in the cheap seats.

Have some balls, take ownership for your business and set your own goals. Quota is not a goal, it’s the floor and the only thing you get from the floor are the crumbs.


Tension is Natural

If there is no tension in the sales process, you’re not selling. You’re taking orders or you’re the customers bitch.

Truly selling means you are offering some type of fundamental change and tension is inherent to change.

Your buyer isn’t going to always agree with your view point, recommendation or suggestions and that’s OK. That’s healthy tension.

There are going to be detractors to your solution. The competition is going to add to the tension, spreading fear, uncertainty and doubt (fud). That’s brutal tension.

Your product won’t meet all their needs, that for sure creates tension.

New requirements will come out of the blue, the product team will miss a delivery timeline, budgets will be cut, prices will be too high and they all create tension.

Tension is natural. It’s part of the sales cycle. As a sales person, your job is not to reduce tension or avoid it but rather know how to manage it.

Tension gives you visibility into what your clients are doing. It’s provides insight into your buyers mind, their challenges, issues and concerns. Tension is the natural connection between your buyers fears and your solution. Embracing tension is how you get to the close and deliver.

Sales is not meant to be tension free, we’re creating change and change makes people nervous.

Embrace the tension, it means you’re heading in the right direction.

The Civil Rights Act Hasn’t Failed Us, We’re Failing the Civil Rights Act


Fifty years ago today, July 2nd 1964, then President Lyndon Johnson signed into law one of the most important pieces of legislation ever signed. It was the Civil Rights Act.

It is truly astounding it took 190 years AFTER this sentence was penned to actually live to the creed.

. . . these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

None the less, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 forced the south and all other states to eradicate all systemic laws or policies that discriminated based on race, color or creed.

Today truly marks a historic day, particularly for black americans, as Jim Crow was a lasting and painful legacy of this countries slave days.

K, so where am I going with this. It’s a great day. Yup, I got it. So what about it.

K, here’s where I’m going. Fifty years is a long ass time. That’s two generations and unfortunately we (the black community) have not truly capitalized on the opportunity afforded us by the 1964 Civil Rights Act and . . . hold on folks . . . it’s our own fault.

Yup, I said it. This powerful act freed us from institutional racism and gave us the ability to pursue happiness. It gave us the ability to predetermine our own lives and we’ve dropped the ball. We have not taken full advantage of this act and we have no one to blame but ourselves and NO we can no longer blame racism. It’s time we take ownership for our plight and do something about it.

Before 1964 our goal, our mission was equality and that’s the mission we should have had. Leveling the playing field and eradicating institutional racism was absolutely paramount and we needed leaders who would take us on that journey. Fearless leaders who would risk everything to push that door open and walk in. We found those leaders in Martin Luther King, Thurgood Marshal, Rosa Parks, Malcolm X, Andrew Young, Reverend Jessie Jackson and more. These men and women lead through sacrifice and courage to beat down the doors of oppression and free the black community from the horrific legacy of slavery and Jim Crow. Institutions like the NAACP and the Urban League coalesced around the fight for freedom and gave us a voice. We owe our entire existence today to these brave souls and institutions.

But . . .

That fight is over and it’s time we move on.

A good friend of mine shared with me once something her mother had told her a long time ago. She said,

“Honey, marching, breaking down barriers and fighting for civil rights was our battle and we succeeded. It’s time for this generation to find it’s own battle. Ours was won.”

My friends mother is right.  The civil right battle has been won and we owe those who won it tremendous gratitude, but we’re losing the equality war today and it’s our own fault. We haven’t found this generation’s battle. We’re still fighting our parents fight. We’re still focusing on the system and that’s the wrong fight.

The battle cries of the 50′s and 60′s demanding equality can no longer the battle cries for today. Is there still racism? Yes. Are there still inequities? Yes. But they pale in comparison to 1964 and we needed to recognize the change and change with it.

Focusing on the system was what was needed 50 years ago, maybe even 25 years ago, but it IS not what we need today. It’s time we stop looking out, at the establishment, looking for signs of racism, discrimination and inequality. It’s time we start looking inward at how we are capitalizing on the opportunities afforded us 50 years ago, because the sad truth is we haven’t held ourselves accountable enough and we are losing because of it.


How are we losing because of it? Here are a few stats to consider:

  • 67% of births in the black community are to unwed mothers
  • Only 21% of us have a bachelors degree
  • Only 68% of us graduate from high school
  • We make up 38% of the prison population, while only making up 13% of the U.S. Population
  • .05% is the percentage of all U.S earnings that come from black owned companies.

In spite of the tremendous gains we’ve made over the past 50 years, I argue we haven’t scratched the surface. We’re leaving money on the table and it’s time we stop.

We need new measurements of success. Rather than focus on external issues and changing laws, I suggest it’s time we hold ourselves accountable. It’s time for leadership to stop challenging the country and the system for change, but rather start challenging ourselves for change.

My dad used to say to me,

Stop worrying about what everyone else is doing and focus on yourself.

As much as I hated him saying that when I was a kid, he was right. I can’t make a man stop calling me a nigger, but I can be sure the man he’s calling a nigger has a college degree, never been incarcerated, doesn’t use drugs, makes 6 figures, isn’t racist himself, gives back, is a great father, and treats his partner with respect etc.. And that’s what we need to start focusing on now. Our new fight is to start focusing on us.

Maybe it’s because I’m in sales, but I say we start focusing on the numbers. Our new fight is to fight the numbers, the numbers that keep us down and keep us from capitalizing on all the gains afforded us by the previous generations.  It’s not the system any longer, it’s us. We are this generations fight! We need to fight to improve the numbers above. We need leaders to challenge us in our efforts to reduce the percentage of kids born to unwed mothers. NO MORE BABY MAMMA’s!  We need our churches to hold us accountable for raising our children’s high school graduation rates. Kids from different schools and neighborhoods shouldn’t be wearing their area code on their clothing but rather their schools graduation rates. We need to make graduation rates a thing of pride. We need more organizations who spend their time making sure all of us who are graduating are going to college and staying there. We need more mom’s and dad’s who expect their children to go to college and graduate. We need to develop a “cult of intellectualism” in our communities. No racist or racism can keep us from embracing learning, if that’s what we chose to embrace. We need to eradicate any vestige of the gangster lifestyle. We need to eradicate any sense of prominence  or “cred” for incarceration. Racism never made going to prison cool, we own that.

We need to commit to these improving these numbers and make them public every year. No one should ever NOT know what they are. We should track them, celebrate them and hold us accountable to making them. The numbers are our new fight.

We have a new fight and it’s right in front of us. It’s time the old guard stepped aside and a new guard rise up. It’s time we stop focusing on institutional change and time we start focusing on our own destructive behavior. It’s time we don’t let the outside world keep us from reaching our potential. It’s time we stop giving our power away. Anytime we’re focused on what others our doing to us, we aren’t focused on what we are doing to ourselves.

It’s time we pick a battle with ourselves. That battle;

  • reduce the percentage of unwed mothers from 67% to less than 50%
  • Increase the number of bachelor degrees by over 50% to 30%
  • Increase the high school graduation rate to 73% which is higher than the national average
  • Reduce our percentage of the prison population by 1/2 to 18%
  • Increase the number of black owned businesses by 50% to 10% of all business in U.S.
  • Do all of this in the next 10 years

Over the next 10 years if we redirect our efforts from outward facing efforts to inward facing efforts like these, things would change drastically. If our focus is on our own choices and behaviors rather than others, we would capitalize on all the Civil Rights Act was meant to do.

It’s time to create a goal of one. Where each “one” of us is asking, am I getting us closer to the goal or am I moving us further away. We need to create a culture where no one wants to be the “one.” The one girl or guy who kept us from meeting our unwed mother goal, the one person who doesn’t graduate and causes us to miss our graduation goal, the one parent who’s kid doesn’t get into college, the one girl who get’s incarcerated. We need a culture where the social pressure is squarely targeted at making these goals. We need a culture where no one wants to be the “one.” The one person who is keeping us from attaining the dream.

The days of attacking the system for change are over. We need new goals. We need a new vision. We need action from within. We need to rally around a cause that is about us, for us.

It’s time to stop focusing on our surroundings and blaming the system, whites or environments. Although not perfect, we have plenty to work with. They are not the reason we can’t. They are why we haven’t and we have the power to change things. It’s time we embrace our strength and pride to grow from within. It’s time we shift our attention to improving our standing by improving ourselves. It’s time  each one of us makes a commitment, that regardless of the challenges big or small, we choose a course that will better our own unique situation and through each one us we improve the whole.

The Civil Rights Act was not designed to do the work for us, it was simply to remove the barriers. We must make the journey and the time has come to start running. We’ve walked long enough.




(*1) U.S. Census Bureau 2013 (

(*2) U.S. Census Bureau 2013 (

(*3)U.S. Department of Justice 2010 (

(*4)U.S. Census Bureau 2011 (

(*5)Center for Economic and Policy Research 2014 study (

(*6)Department of Education 2013 Digest of Education Statistics (


(*7) GradNation report 2014 (

(*8) Department of Education 2013 Digest of Education Statistics (




According To The Data, Salespeople Should Work On Saturday And Play Golf On Monday

This is  a guest post from Mark Roberge, Chief Revenue Officer at Hubspot. Mark has done some amazing things at Hubspot and the data they’ve been gathering on sales and marketing is impressive.  This post on email timing is a great example of connecting with prospects.

I hope you like it.

Break it down Mark –

This is an actual email thread I had with the VP of Global Sales Operations at a $10B+ revenue company.  After a good discovery call with a strong next step, the executive went dark.  Here is my follow up exchange with him.


On Jun 1, 2014, at 9:29 PM, “Mark Roberge” wrote:

Hope the weekend went well QQQQQ.  I wanted to follow up on scheduling this call.  How is your schedule this week?




On Sun, Jun 1, 2014 at 9:44 PM, QQQQQ wrote:

Hello, I am out of the office for the next week. Can we shoot for connecting week after next?



On Jun 1, 2014, at 9:45 PM, “Mark Roberge” wrote:

Definitely QQQQQ.  Is there a time that works for you?


On Sun, Jun 1, 2014 at 9:50 PM, QQQQQQ wrote:

How about 4-5PM Friday the 13th?



On Jun 1, 2014, at 9:53 PM, “Mark Roberge” wrote:


Confirmed QQQQQ.  Enjoy your time off.



There is nothing that notable about this exchange.  In fact, many can probably criticize the overall approach to this stage of the process.  However, if you look closely, there is an interesting take-away.  This entire exchange occurred between 9:29 PM and 9:53 PM on a Sunday night.

At the time I wrote the email, I was not running an experiment or setting myself up for a blog article — I was simply preparing for my week before the craze of Monday morning.  One of my salespeople had requested I make this follow up.  I had planned to schedule the email using Signals for Monday morning, hoping to be the first email in the executives Inbox.  However, I literally forgot to.

Good thing! As you saw, the meeting was booked less than 30 minutes later.

According to some new data, this result was not a fluke.  Our recent report on Sales Email Best Practices analyzed the days and times when sales emails are most successful.  One of the key charts on this analysis is shown below.  In this chart, we analyzed 6.4 million 1:1 emails sent by Signals, and compared the volume of emails sends with the open rates of those emails by day of the week.


email-open-rate-time-from-signals-by-hubspot (1)

The gray line shows the number of emails sent each day of the week.  This line illustrates that most emails were sent on Monday, with over 1,000,000 sent that day.  The least amount of emails were sent on Saturday and Sunday, of course, with under 200,000 sent on each of those days.

The black line shows the open rate of the emails for each day of the week.  The worst days for open rates are Monday and Tuesday.  However, the open rate gradually increases over the course of the week and then spikes on Saturday and Sunday.

Interesting.  So what is going on here?

Perhaps I can speculate.  Salespeople jump into their week energized from the weekend with high hopes for a big week.  They pound the phones and their email, prospecting to as many of their leads as possible.  As the week progresses, they lose a little steam.  Maybe they do happy hour on Thursday.  Maybe they leave early for the weekend on Friday.

However, for the executives receiving the sales emails, the opposite behavior occurs.  Executives are bombarded with the week’s activities on Monday morning.  The first half of the week is jammed with meetings.   Finally, as the week comes to a close and things slow down a bit, they have a chance to catch up on email.   Some of that email flows into the weekend when they finally have a chance to clean out the inbox after the kids are asleep.  That certainly describes my work week.

What do you think?  Am I close in my speculation?

So how do we respond as a sales team?  Should we really take Monday off and work on Saturday, as I suggest in the title?  Probably not.  However, I think there are some really important tactics that can be taken away from these results.

  1. When you are behind on your goal, digging in on the weekend can be a very productive exercise.
  2. Schedule call blitzes for the end of the week, not the beginning.  Consider a weekend email blitz if the team is behind or needs a big month.
  3. Use sales email scheduling tools like Signals to schedule some outbound emails for the weekend.  This is the opposite of our instincts but the data suggests it will work.
  4. Download the free mobile version of Signals to stay on top of executives opening your sales emails on the weekend while you are away from your PC.  Don’t be afraid to spit off a quick response at the moment of the open to instigate an email dialogue while you have the executive’s attention.

What other ideas do people have based on this analysis?


2013 Roberge 2Mark is Chief Revenue Officer of the HubSpot Sales Division.  At HubSpot, he increased revenue over 6,000% and expanded the worldwide salesteam from 1 to 450 employees. These results placed HubSpot #33 on the 2011 INC 500 Fastest Growing Companies list. Mark was ranked #19 in Forbes’ Top 30 Social Sellers in the World. He was also awarded the 2010 Salesperson of the Year at the MIT Sales Conference.

Mark holds an MBA from the MIT Sloan School of Management where he wasawarded the Patrick McGovern award for his contributions to entrepreneurship at MIT.  He holds a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from Lehigh University.  Mark has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Forbes Magazine, Inc Magazine, BostonGlobe, TechCrunch, Harvard Business Review, and other major publications for his entrepreneurial ventures.

What Stock Picking Can Teach Us About Hiring Sales People

Hiring is a skill. It’s a skill that you as a hiring manager better get good at, because those who can hire the best sales people win.

The single biggest differentiator in sales teams isn’t the product, or the strategy, or the market. It’s the sales people hired to go execute and if you and your organization don’t know how to hire the best of the best, you’re gonna lose.

I get it, hiring is hard. It’s like picking a stock. Pick the right stock and you can makes some serious coin. Pick the wrong stock and you can loose some serious cash. And like picking stocks, there is no perfect formula. No matter how much research you put in, you won’t always be successful. You’ll pick some stocks that should have been home runs and they crash and burn, while others that should have been bombs crush it and exceed expectations.

In the world of stock picking there are two methodologies to minimize the risk, technical and fundamental analysis.

Technical analysis evaluates securities by analyzing statistics generated by market activity, such as past prices and volume. Technical analysis does not attempt to measure a security’s intrinsic value, but instead uses charts and other tools to identify patterns that can suggest future activity. 

Fundamental analysis evaluates a security by attempting to measure its intrinsic value by examining related economic, financial and other qualitative and quantitative factors. Fundamental analysts attempt to study everything that can affect the security’s value, including macroeconomic factors (like the overall economy and industry conditions) and company-specific factors (like financial condition and management). 

Picking people is very similar to picking stocks. It’s so similar that like stocks, it leverages the same methodologies; technical and fundamental analysis. Like stocks or securities you can look for past trends of the candidate and ignore a candidates intrinsic value (technical analysis) or you can look to measure the intrinsic value of the candidate (fundamental analysis).

And this is where I become irreverent. Attempting to hiring candidates leveraging technical analysis is just stupid and short sighted. It prevents you from finding some of the best, most  productive candidates and employees.  When we use technical analysis in the hiring process, we are using things like a GPA, years of experience, degree, etc as the data to predict whether or not a candidate can do the job and that’s the problem. GPA, years of experience, college degrees etc are not predictive and provide very little insight into whether or not a person can actually do the job you need them to do.

“One of the things we’ve seen from all our data crunching is that G.P.A.’s are worthless as a criteria for hiring, and test scores are worthless . . . we found they don’t predict anything” — Laszlo Bock – Sr. Vice President People Operations Google

Technical analysis is the cheap hiring process of those who are incapable of identifying a candidates intrinsic value default to in the hiring process.

There was a time in my career that a company was extremely interested in hiring me to head up the their sales organization and after they found out I didn’t have my degree (I’ve since gone back and finished my BA), they quickly told me I was no longer a candidate. This is technical hiring.

At A Sales Guy Recruiting, we are constantly educating our clients on NOT leveraging the technical methodology. It’s not uncommon for us to deliver a killer candidate who they reject because they don’t have a degree, or their GPA was too low, or they didn’t have the industry experience they wanted.

It’s maddening. At A Sales Guy Recruiting we don’t subscribe to technical hiring, we subscribe to fundamental hiring and are working to perfect it. We believe so strongly in fundamental hiring, we won’t work with clients who subscribe to technical hiring. We don’t believe it produces the best candidates.

Fundamental hiring, like fundamental analysis focuses on the quantitative AND qualitative data. It’s sole purpose is to understand the intrinsic value of the candidate. This is even more valuable in the hiring process, because people are far more complex and unpredictable than stocks.

Technical hiring ignores candidates who lack the appropriate degree, who don’t have the particular industry experience or product knowledge or appropriate GPA. Technical hiring puts tremendous emphasis on the measurable and will eliminate candidates who don’t have the requisite requirements. The premise is, these past measurements are predictors of future performance. The goal of technical hiring is to identify measurements that correlate to success and hire based on those criteria.

Fundamental hiring goes further, taking into consideration the uniqueness of every candidates personality, background, environmental factors, identity and more. Fundamental hiring, like that of fundamental analysis in securities trading, looks for the intrinsic value in the candidate. Fundamental hiring goes further. Fundamental hiring can look at GPA, industry experience, degree etc but as a way to determine how it can or does affect a candidates ability to do the job, NOT as a criteria that must be met to be hired.

Fundamental hiring asks, can this candidate do the job?

Technical hiring asks, does this candidate have the criteria to do the job and these are two ENTIRELY different questions.

I know, most of you are thinking, I leverage fundamental hiring. But, if you cut a sales candidate out of the process because they don’t have industry knowledge, a particular GPA, a degree, a particular number of years of experience, then you are a technical hirer.

I don’t like technical hiring. I work very closely with our recruiters to hone their fundamental recruiting approaches. We push our clients to broaden their approach and hone their fundamental recruiting skills, because that’s how the best people are found and hired.

In the world of technical hiring, Richard Branson, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and Jet Blue founder David Neelman would never have been hired as none of them have their degrees.

Take a look at your hiring process. Do you focus on the hiring criteria or the intrinsic value of the candidate? It makes a difference!

Don’t be so short sighted. Learn to measure the intrinsic value of your candidates and stop taking the short cut, ’cause if you or your company leverage technical hiring, you will lose the talent acquisition battle.




Can You Simplify the Complex?

Can you simplify the complex?

Can you turn complex concepts into simple ones?

Can you explain the complex, complicated and difficult in simple, easy to understand, digestible pieces?

You should.

Sales is about helping people understand their options, it’s about helping them fully grasp their opportunities and if that’s too difficult to do, then you’re not selling as well as you could.

Too often sales people toss around industry jargon and acronyms rather than just saying it straight. They provide long winded answers to questions when a short and simple response is more than adequate. They run people through two hour demos, when a 15 minutes would have worked just fine. They show all the features, when showing only one would have done the job.

Don’t assume your buyers want to see every single feature your product has. Don’t treat your customers like they’re idiots and over explain. Don’t act as if your customers need their hands held. Instead, keep it simple. Boil things down to their simplest form. Avoid the circuitous route and take the straight line.

I know we’re supposed to educate, inform, and teach our customers, but that does’t mean we have to perplex the hell out of buyers.

Learn to win by simplifying the complex. Regardless of what you might think, being complex doesn’t make you look smart, it just confuses everyone.