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!

Getting Naked

I urge every CEO and senior executive that I work with to read Patrick Lencioni’s terrific management books…especially “The Five Temptations of a CEO”  (which I give to every new Vistage member) and “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team” ( which has been on the business best seller lists for some time…you can get a terrific video by the same title that is sure to change how you manage  your team. )

Lencioni’s newest book,  “Getting Naked: A Business Fable About Shedding The Three Fears That Sabotage Client Loyalty” is a must read not just for service providers but for any one whose business requires some degree of personal interaction with customers and clients aside from the transaction itself.