At the end of the day, the success of any business will always rely on its people. No matter what kind of systems you put in place, if you don’t have the best people to man those, it will all be for naught.
In this episode, my guest, top sales advisor, and founder of Big Swift Kick, Andy Miller,
discusses his processes for helping some of the top companies in the world find, hire, and train high sales performers for their sales teams.
Andy Miller is a 28-year international sales strategist who specializes in helping companies dominate their markets by using his proprietary methodology to double and beyond their growth rate. He has trained over 18,000 salespeople and has worked closely with many well-known business experts, including Tony Robbins and his organization, and is a recognized authority on sales and sales management. He has lectured at various universities, has experience in the software industry, and is the owner of Big Swift Kick.
Visit his website: www.BigSwiftKick.com
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We have an amazing guest. I’ve known this gentleman now for over two decades. He’s like a family member to me. His name is Andy Miller. He owns a company called BigSwiftKick.com where he’s advising some of the top companies in the world on how to grow their sales. Andy also was a former business owner who built his company up and sold it for monies that most of us would love to. He was able to retire if he wanted to at that time, but he’s a top producer himself. Top producers very rarely will retire. We first met working with Mr. Chet Holmes at the Chet Holmes International. Andy was the forerunner. He built the consulting division for Chet Holmes.
I’ll say Andy was my mentor going through this. I learned so much about business, strategy, life and sales. He’s a super nice guy. He’s coming out with a book in the future, and I won’t announce it yet because we’re going to do another episode on that, but pay attention because he is an expert not only in growing sales with companies, but he’s an expert on our topic. He and I worked closely together, and a lot of my expertise comes from his knowledge originally. He’s an expert on hiring top performers, sales performers, those A-players, those things that companies say, “I want way more of those,” those people that consistently hit quota and then go above and beyond.
Those people that can outsell other salespeople, usually at a multiple 3 to 1, etc. Andy is a smart guy. He’s very pragmatic. He’s data-driven, he’s all about the science. You’re going to probably read some of the science come out in the form of statistics and studies and things of that nature. I would say he’s the uncle to my children. This is how much I trust this man. Let’s get on with the interview and we’re going to welcome Mr. Andy Miller from BigSwiftKick.com.
Andy Miller, welcome to the show. I’m very glad you’re here.
Thanks, Doug Brown. I’m glad to be here.
For those of you that don’t know, Andy and I have known each other for a long time where I would consider ourselves brothers. He’s known as Uncle Andy to my children. He was one of my mentors and has been throughout my life growing up. Andy, I’m going to say you’re beyond a sales expert and an expert in anything pretty much to do with sales. Thanks for being here. I want to jump right in because we can talk forever because we do and it’s awesome. One of the sales growth strategies that companies can use is hiring and training high performers and growing those sales teams of high performers.
No matter what size business you are, it doesn’t matter. You can fill it up with what we used to call superstars because Andy and I used to work together at the Chet Holmes organization as well. These superstars can have a huge impact on your marketplace. It starts with rethinking your ability to hire these superstars because a lot of people want to hire them. Why do you think high-performance teams are hiring high-performance teams is considered a successful growth strategy, if you will?
Look at how much a high producer produces in revenue compared to a lower producer. The mistake that companies make in their interviewing process is they hire the wrong people. When you hire the wrong people, they don’t perform well. You’ve seen the statistics year after year. It’s always around 50%, but 50% of salespeople don’t hit their quota. Why is that? You don’t necessarily need a superstar. You need the 50% of the salespeople that hit their quota. How do you weed out the 50% that can’t and how do you identify the 50% that can? A lot of people say the superstar strategies applaud strategy.
I’m not sure I agree or disagree with that depending on the situation. Here’s the thing. If you got 100% of your salesforce hitting quota, you’re probably doing well at that point. Is that fair?
I would say you’re doing well. I would also challenge you and say, “Is your quota too low?” Everybody’s in quota. Do I want it so high that nobody is accomplishing it? No, but should the majority of your people be hitting quota? Yes. Should 100% be hitting quota? That seems to me that we’ve lowered the bar too much.
That’s like getting 100% close rate consistently.
You’re going to win some, you’re going to lose some. Everybody in class gets an A. No, not everybody gets an A. We lowered the bar too much.
We’re going to talk a lot about hiring the right type of people because Andy is an expert on this. I learned a lot from him through the years. I’ve hired maybe thousands of salespeople at this point over time. He has been involved in doing the same type of thing. For everyone out there that’s wondering, “I would love to be able to raise my quota. I’d love to have a sales team that was performing at this optimal level consistently.” We’ve got to identify who they are, find them, hire them, onboard them and keep them, but it all begins with the definition of what an A-player would be. Would you agree with this? You must define first who that A-player is or what they look like?
Yes. What we’re talking about is who’s an A-player for you because an A-player at one company isn’t necessarily going to be an A-player at your company. You’ve got to decide what does an A-player look like? That starts with getting clear on what is required to thrive at your company, selling in your marketplace.
Would it be like I need them to thrive and so I need to set up systems and processes for them to thrive or these are the expectations that I need them to do to think about to thrive?
It’s the expectations and qualifications. Years ago, I was working on an account with a buddy of mine and they wanted to hire some A-players and we said, “Give us the job description and give us the ad that you run the ad.” The job description was for a salesperson. Do you know that job description didn’t mention the word sales in it once? That’s an extreme example to make the point, but it’s like, “What is the job really and then what does the ad need to say?” I’ve had a couple of people which has been fascinating. Somebody said, “If you want to hire A-players, why don’t you have a product that works that we can sell?”
If you have a product that’s not released yet or the product is broken or you haven’t figured out who your target audience is in terms of who you’re selling to or you haven’t figured out your messaging, then you need to factor that in for the people that you’re hiring who can thrive under those circumstances. Some people love a good challenge and other people, they don’t want the challenge. They want the, “Give me a working product. Give me the price list. Tell me exactly who to call on. Tell me exactly what to say and I’ll grind it out all day long.” It’s getting clear on what do you have to work with, not being delusional about it and then going out and hire people who love to work in those circumstances.
It’s about clarity in being organized and prepared for that particular let’s call them A-players. Everyone reading here, please understand this. A-players have certain characteristics, but they need an environment in which to be an A-player.
You’re looking for fit, Doug. Who fits this environment? Who fits these circumstances?
Andy, I’m going to sit on the other side of the table here and think, “I’m an owner of the company. I’ve got these salespeople.” How do I identify what environment to put together for my A-player? Do I need to upgrade things? What do I look at?
If it’s not the environment you put together, it’s an honest self-assessment of the environment that you have. I’ll give you an example. Many years ago, I helped a client in the oil and gas industry hire a couple of strong salespeople. They were in the top 10% and we took a look and they were getting ready to roll out a new product. The product wasn’t ready yet. They hadn’t tested the market that they were going to sell it to. They hadn’t figured out how they’re going to price it yet and they hadn’t figured out what quota was going to be or compensation was going to be. That sounds like a messy environment to walk into. How are you going to attract an A-player to want to come to sell in an environment that is uncertain?
We thought, “What do we need?” Right now, this is where we’re at. This is where we’re hoping to be. Here’s what we’re willing to do until we get it figured out. The icing on the cake was they offered equity share in the company and they’d done this twice before and other companies that they had grown and sold. You’re going to take a risk. Let me share with you what the risk is. That’s the downside. Let me share with you what the upside is. Now, the question is, is that something that excites you and you want to be part of or is that something where you’re going, “That’s too much of a mess for me. I need something a little more certain than that?”
We hired four people who were very excited about that opportunity who produced well. The first year was a mess. They even called me up and said, “Andy, this is a real mess.” I said, “Did I misrepresent it?” They said, “Not at all.” I said, “Did I tell you you’re going to call me and say, ‘This was a mess?’” They said, “You did.” I said, “Does that mean you want to quit?” They go, “Not at all. I’m going, ‘This is a mess. I needed to talk to somebody.’ I’m calling you going, ‘You’re right. This is a mess.’” Once everything was figured out, they were out there opening doors and making sales and they did well. It’s not about how do we need our culture to be, how do we need our environment to be. It’s about being honest about what you have and where you’re at.
What I find fascinating about that, Andy, you and I have talked dozens if not hundreds of times about salespeople and hiring them. The interesting thing to me is when you look at a top performer and I talk with a lot of my clients or companies that are potentials, they’re always telling me, “These guys, all they want is the money and that’s it. We’re going to benchmark that and we’re going to make it the highest compensation we can make it. That’s going to attract all these special people.” I found that money is a component of it. As you’re demonstrating with these folks, part of the challenge of working there seemed to be appealing to them. Would you agree? Would you disagree?
I’ll give you two other data points that will reinforce that. Daniel Pink wrote a book called Drive. In there, he talks about money as an incentive and some of the studies that have been done. There was a point where once you’ve accomplished a certain level or degree of proficiency, more money becomes a disincentive, which I found fascinating. Also, I use a number of sales assessments and it was the last market downturn that we had caused a shift in salespeople where before, they were more money motivated as a population, now as a population, money is not the number one motivator. It’s satisfaction. What part of satisfaction? It’s providing good customer service or helping a client or customer accomplish something they want to accomplish.
It’s self-satisfaction of doing a good job. It’s the intrinsic things that you find rewarding as a salesperson. It’s not the money. Don’t get me wrong. They’re not going to work for free. They do want to be paid a premium if they’re good or they want the opportunity to make a premium meaning low-base, high commission. There’s a point where they’re bringing in enough that the money is no longer the reward. It’s the recognition, the satisfaction and the challenge. It’s doing something that nobody else has been able to figure out how to do.
That distinction there is the key. Andy and I both have worked and hired many A-players over the years. The reality is that once you get to a certain point of income, it’s like, “What’s the next mountain I want to climb?” This is how an A-player thinks. They’re consistently thinking there. There have got to be opportunities for some type of growth within your plan. It’s not necessarily monetary growth because if you start making $1 million a year as a salesperson, that’s nice, but then it’s like if your needs are only at $150,000 a year, money is not going to be the major driver anymore. I’ve not met most top players, Andy, who don’t want to be in the top 1 or 2 consistently.
Years ago, I was working with a software company and this is a large software company. They probably had about 400 salespeople. Their number one rep was always number one every year. What made it so fascinating was he was a DuPont Trust Fund baby. He never needed to work. He was worth millions and millions of dollars. He had a nice house in a great location in DC, Georgetown. He has a nice car and all that stuff. He wasn’t number one by a hair. He was number one by light years. I asked him, “Every year, you’re number one by far. There’s not even a close second, yet I know you’re a trust fund baby. It’s not like you’re doing this for the money. Why are you doing this?” He said, “All my life, everybody said that because I was a trust fund baby, everything had been given to me and that I never earned anything that. I wanted people to know I am quite capable on my own without my trust fund. That’s why every year I have to be number one because I want to show people that I’m capable. Everything was not given to me.”
I know that people who are reading this are going, “Come on,” but I’ve got to tell you, it’s true. Andy is describing the classic A-player. We have motivation of different facets. I’ve known you to be one of those guys that it’s like, “I’m going to show you.”
A-players are always out to prove something. This is probably an outdated story but think of a Michael Jordan. He did not make his junior varsity team in high school, at least the first time around. That made him angry that he said, “I’m going to outwork everybody.” Even when he made it into the pros, he still outworked everybody. It wasn’t because he was naturally talented. It’s the old cream rises to the top. He was not the cream. He was the hard worker. He had to fight his way to the top. He was out to prove something. The DuPont Trust Fund baby, he was out to prove something. If something can’t be done, you tell me it can’t be done, then get out of the way, I’m going to show you it can be done. Doug, I know you’re of that mindset too. It’s not necessarily about the money. It’s about the challenge and proving themselves.
What’s so fascinating about this, Andy, it’s spot on, number one, but a lot of people don’t think like this when they’re going to hire somebody. I was reading as I was getting prepared for this. I’m looking on all these expert blogs of people who are supposed to be experts in hiring. I found this article and it said, “There’s a massive difference between hiring and hiring superstars. To hire superstars, A) you want to find and hire motivated people, B) choose people who work well with others and C) hire employees who follow the rules.” Right then and there, I had to stop reading because I know that that’s not what top players are about. Top players will work well with other people, but not necessarily because they’re constantly pushing the boundaries. I can speak for myself. I very rarely follow the rules when I worked for other companies. Those people who are considering these top A-players, should they be a little bit prepared for maybe a maverick type of mentality that’s going to come in and disrupt part of their organization? What should they think about?
They might be, but they don’t necessarily have to be a maverick. I’m going to deviate for a little bit, but a lot of times I’ll hear people say, “We like to interview and hire athletes. They were a high school athlete, college athlete, whatever.” I’ll go, “Why athletes?” They go, “They know how to be on a team. They know how to do well.” It depends on what sport they played. The question I’ll ask them is, “Do you ask them the question, were they naturally talented or did they have to work for it?” If they were naturally talented and they were an athlete, they did not have to work for it. I want the athlete that was the Michael Jordan that didn’t make it and got mad that they decided to step up and fight their way to the top.
That’s what I want. I want some fight in the dog and then they’ll figure out how to make it happen. That that might mean going maverick sometimes. It might mean playing by the rules of the system sometimes. It depends on your company and where your company is in its growth stage. Are you an early-stage company? Are you a late, more mature, you’ve got your systems and processes? You’ve got to figure out what is our environment and who’s going to be attracted to working in that environment? I’d love to give you an answer. It’s these three things. It’s, “What is my environment? What do we have to work with? What’s the ugly part of our environment or the way we’re working?” Tell people that, “Here’s the ugly downside of where we’re at right now,” because that’s what you want. You want people who are excited about the ugly downside challenge.
There’s so much to unpack there between the fight in the dog and what a lot of people mistake and we’re going to get into some mistakes that people make in hiring. They don’t look at this thing as a holistic process. They look at it as, “I’m going to post a job.” I’ve found that people who are A-players, they’re looking for something that’s more holistic. They don’t want to turn over. They want to get into a company and grow with that company. We’ve talked about identifying them, which is great. The first step is getting clear on the persona, I would say, and the environment in which they come in and being very transparent about the whole process of what they’re about to embark upon. I’m a business owner, a CEO, VP or President of Sales. I’m buying into this concept. How do I find these people then? Where do they hang out? Do I write an ad? What do I do next?
The most obvious way to find these folks is ask your employees who knows somebody like this, but you’ve got to get clear on what they look like. You guys sit down and go, “What does the person look like who would thrive in this environment?” You come up with that description and then you say to your employees, “Does anybody know anybody who looks like, acts like, sounds like and fits this description? We’ll give you a bonus, a referral fee, basically.” Sometimes it’s $500, sometimes it’s $1,000, but I would say offer a referral fee. Usually, you don’t pay the referral fee out until it’s 3 to 6 months after that person’s been onboard. That is your strongest way to do it. The next way to do it and the most popular is through Indeed. LinkedIn is a possibility also, but people seem to be finding it’s significantly more salespeople on Indeed than LinkedIn.
The last one is always keep your eyes and ears open. Always be recruiting. If you’re going to do Indeed, you’ve got to write your ad. This drives me nuts. Somebody goes to write an ad. What do they do? They get on Google, type a wanted salesperson ad, find something and then they tweak it. They post it on whatever jobs they’re posting it on. That’s not customized. That’s not an accurate representation. It’s lazy. If you want to get what you want, you’ve got to think of this as a dating wanted ad. This is what you would put on eHarmony. You’ve got to craft that thing. If you want to, you could do a contest of get a couple of people in the company going, “I want to write an ad. If you’re going to write an ad that would attract somebody to come here, what would that have look like?” Do a little competition because you’re going to get some insights onto what people think is needed.
I love that idea of a contest because it brings the power of the minds together. You get different ideas and different thoughts from different people because your employees tend to see things you don’t. They’re in a different place. Anyway, what ad do we write? As you said, don’t go to Google and cut and paste the ad. Do I need to write the ad to challenge these people? Do I need to write the ad to truth and transparency?
Yes, all the above. One thing you need to do before you write your ad, go to Glassdoor and look at your company ratings. I’ve talked to a number of people and a number of recruiters and employers, and they always ignore Glassdoor because that’s where the disgruntled people go. That’s where they go to the voice themselves and be heard, but you have a problem. Fifty-five percent of all candidates go to Glassdoor before responding to your ad. That means if you have negative reviews and you haven’t dealt with that, half the people who could come to you aren’t even going to come. They’re not even coming to the dance because they go, “I read their Glassdoor reviews. The company sucks. I’m not even responding.”
Go to the Glassdoor ratings, come up with a strategy of dealing with what’s on there. You’ve got to respond to it. Also, you’ve got to factor that into the ad you’re going to write because if there’s a bunch of ugly things going on, maybe one of the executives I know was being inappropriate or they’re a real taskmaster or they’re difficult to work with or who knows what. Maybe one of your products is broken. Maybe it’s becoming outdated. Maybe the industry is changing, but whatever those things are, you’ve got to factor that into your ad. Doug, you asked what ad to write. The ad that I love to write and this ad, it’s legendary. That’s a myth. It’s called the Shackleton ad. Are you familiar with that one?
I love the Shackleton ad. For people reading this, google the Shackleton ad. It’s going to pop up and it’s about five sentences long. I can’t paraphrase it, but here’s the background behind it. Ernest Shackleton was an explorer. It was a race to the Arctic Circle. He was looking for men who wanted to go on this hazardous journey. The ad said, “Men wanted for hazardous journey. Long days, cold nights, the chance of success, doubtful.” Translation, you’re probably going to die. Fame and fortune upon success. It was a simple ad. I probably botched it up a little bit there, but it was literally five sentences. Here’s the power of that ad. First of all, it tells you about what’s the challenge. Some people would have said, “Why would I want to do that?” Others would have said, “A trip to the Arctic? That would be cool. It’s going to be challenging. I love a good challenge. I love the labor involved. I love trying to figure out the strategy, the approach and the plan.”
They got all excited about what it is. It’s an adventure. They’re getting excited about the adventure, knowing that there’s challenge and danger. The second part of that is the payoff. What’s the payoff? Fame and fortune upon successful completion. You’re going to make a lot of money if we’re successful and you’re going to be famous if we’re successful. There’s been some debate about whether that ad was run or not. I can tell you this, if you look at the research, it’s very clear that when you tell people about the negative downside, hard parts of the job, that you’ve managed their expectations and you’re attracting people who like that. Your turnover is reduced because you warn them that this is what they’re stepping into.
When it happens, they go, “That’s not a big deal. You warned me about it.” If you don’t warn them about it and then it comes up, they go, “Nobody told me about this. This is ugly. What else are they hiding? Maybe I made the wrong decision. Maybe I should call that other company that made me an offer and tell them I changed my mind. Is there a position still open?” That’s what happens when you don’t talk about the negative side and set the expectations.
Many people in ads do not do this. When you were describing it, Andy, I remember when I was going into the military. The military ads are written much like this. They show you running through a field, bombs going off, all kinds of things or whatever is happening. We’re like, “I won’t get hurt, but I’ll get in there and I’ll do it.” You enlist. I remember when I enlisted, they’re like, “We’re looking for people that want to be Army Rangers. We’re going to jump out of planes. You’re going to do all these things. You might do XYZ, very dangerous missions.”
All of us, we raised our hands because we want to go there. We wanted the fame of being an Army Ranger. We wanted those wings on our chest, if you will, from jumping out of the plane. The ads work. Follow that process and get input from people because you don’t have to do all this by yourself when you’re trying to try and do this. Andy, now we found them, we’ve identified them. We’re going to go on and we’re going to want to hire them. Do you do a traditional interview? Do you use assessments? How do you hire these people?
Yes, you do a little bit of all the above, but I’m going to recommend a contrarian order sequence to the process. The first thing I do is I assess them. I use an evaluation or an assessment and I test them before I even talk to them. The reason I do that is when you look at all the different selection methods, Schmidt and Hunter were the leading organizational psychologist who had been researching for years what is the most accurate way of selecting. All the different methodologies, resumes, interviews behavioral tests, personality tests, IQ tests or job specific tests. They’ve looked at all those things. I mentioned references. There’s a whole number of ways and others that I didn’t even list. They took a look at what’s the most effective to what’s the least effective.
If you look at how people interview, I’m going to call it a traditional interview. That’s only 38% predictive of whether the candidate can do the job or not. Part of that is because we’re bad at interviewing. Part of that is because there’s lots of bias that creeps into that. Doug, did you know that most people make their decision, whether they want this person to move forward in the interviewing process or not in the first five minutes? They make up their mind if they want this person to pass or not pass. They don’t even realize that. That’s how much bias there is.
They also found that if it was done face-to-face initially and the woman was pregnant, they would not get approved to go forward. If they were doing it on a phone call or doing it behind a screen door and the New York Symphony did this. They had people interview behind a screen so the interviewers could not see the person. They could hear their voice. They could hear them play their instrument. What they found is 40% more of the candidates made it to the next step because they were qualified and the bias was eliminated because of the screen. They didn’t have the visual cues. I couldn’t look and say, “He’s tall. She’s pretty. They’re like me. They’re not like me.” All that bias was cut out of it. The first thing I do is I test them.
What do you use to test them? Do you do assessments of some sort?
I’ve got a number of assessments and here’s the challenge to that question. Everybody wants to know what’s the test to use? It doesn’t work that way. It comes down to what are you trying to measure? What are you trying to determine? Are you trying to figure out cultural fit? Are you trying to figure out can they hit quota? Are you trying to figure out can they make it in a highly competitive market where we’re the underdog? You’ve got to figure out what it is I’m trying to measure and then pick the right tool or combination of tools. I have a combination of tools that I use, but according to Schmidt and Hunter, using the right tools and the right combination is 75% predictive of their ability to do the job. It’s double the interview. The interview is 38%, the right combination of 75%. That’s double right there before you even meet them.
Being specific and this goes back to the persona you want to attract. What we’re doing is we’re matching, like Andy said, eharmony, we’re matching you up. You want to use specific assessments for specific end goals that you’re seeking. For example, if you’re looking for a personality, you’re going to want to use more of a personality type assessment. If you’re looking for somebody who has a will to sell, you need a sales assessment that’s going to measure that. Whatever specifically you’re looking for, that’s where you’re going to use the type of assessments. That’s what you’re saying, Andy, correct?
Right. If you look at a multi-manager tool, meaning it measures multiple things, not behavior, not personality, not skillset, but the combination of those and many other things. How hungry they are, what are their belief systems? What are their skillsets? An assessment like that is 91% predictive. If you use a behavior assessment, that’s only 20% predictive. When I say behavior, it would be something like DISC. If you say personality assessment, something like Myers-Briggs, it would only be 31% predictive.
As a matter of fact, DISC and Myers-Briggs both say on their websites, “Do not use this for hiring. It does not predict a person’s ability to do the job.” There are hundreds and hundreds of assessments on the market and what ticks me off is a lot of them are misrepresented. I don’t think they’re misrepresented intentionally. The distributors or the people selling the assessments don’t understand what they’re selling and what they do. It would be like me selling a pair of pliers and telling you that it’s great for driving nails because I don’t understand what pliers were designed to do.
You can hit the nail with them.
It doesn’t mean the pliers are bad. They’re just used in the wrong way. By the way, if you use the wrong assessment in hiring and you weed people out who don’t get hired and they decide to sue you for discrimination or whatever it is, if you use the wrong assessment, that’s your fault. That’s not the assessment company’s fault. That’s been proven in court already. If you’re using personality or behavioral assessments or you’re not sure if you’re using the right assessment, you should call me so we can talk about that because you’re at risk.
Your website is www.BigSwiftKick.com. I know you have a free sales assessment test that you’re going to offer everybody. Is that on the website?
Yes. You can go there and you’ll find it under the Resource tab. Go to the Resource tab. In the first dropdown, you’ll find there is take a free sales assessment. I’m going to want to have a conversation with you first to make sure is that the right assessment or should it be something else, but it’s there if you want to take one.
There’s a lot of great information on there and take a look at Andy’s client list too. He was an inspiration for me. I wanted to get a client list similar to his. We talked about how to identify, find and hire them. Now, we’ve got to onboard and keep them.
That to me is fascinating because most companies don’t put much worth in the onboarding or appropriate onboarding. They’ll do a little bit and then they’ll call it onboarding. You can go out and find somebody who’s a right fit who’s excited and motivated about your world. If you don’t onboard them properly, they’re going to go, “Have I made the wrong decision?” They’re going to get frustrated and go. Also, part of that onboarding is not a 1 to 3-day onboarding event. It’s also their manager working with them, coaching them, mentoring them, and developing them on a weekly basis. If you’re hiring people who are Millennials or younger, one of the key things is they want to be developed. If that’s not part of your plan, you’re going to lose them quickly.
It’s funny. I was talking to a guy who said, “I used some sales assessments and they didn’t work well.” I said, “Can I ask you a couple of questions? Did you reach out to the assessment company who sold them to you?” He goes, “No, I didn’t.” I said, “Did you have a structured interview?” He said, “What’s a structured interview?” “A structured interview is predefined questions, predefined answers, great answers, average answers and poor answers with a point value for each of those answers. Five for best, one or zero for terrible answer and maybe three for average with a scorecard.” He goes, “No, we didn’t do that.” I said, “How’d you onboard those folks?” He goes, “We did a one-day introduction to the company and how we do things.” I said, “It wasn’t long enough. Did the manager coach them for an hour a week for the first 90 days? Was there a 90-day ramp up?” He goes, “No, we didn’t do that.” I said, “You’re telling me the assessments didn’t work.”
A structured interview would be similar to how you would score a lead. If you have a lead coming in, you’re going to assign a value to it, each and every question that you’re asking within that structured interview. Andy, to illustrate how important what you’re saying is, I worked with a company and they were sliding. They slid from $50 million to $48 million. They called me in. I recognized they had a ton of leads coming in, but they weren’t able to hire correctly. The reason I’m telling you this because if you take Andy’s advice, which I have in the past and implemented it, what ended up happening is I discovered immediately when I did the initial look at the company, they didn’t have a clear onboarding strategy for their players.
What was happening is they were hiring a ton of people and trading out at 82% because people were coming in and going out. What we did is exactly what Andy said. We put it in a structured process. On the onboarding, you have to have not a three-day onboarding. You have to have a consistent onboarding process. That includes training throughout the duration of when people are there. What we did is I got the management to become coaches versus managers, in addition to managing. Miraculously, they grew from $48 million to $110 million in two years and retained their talent. This works. Please make sure you follow it. We onboarded them and we want to keep them on. I guess the last question I’d love to ask about this is do other A-players know other A-players that if they’re at a company and they’re loving where they’re at, they recognize, “There are openings here.” Do they get ahold of their friends and buddies and tell them about these openings?
They do if they think it’s a real opportunity.
What does that do to your recruiting costs?
It goes way down and your speed to hire is much faster.
I can put these people on faster. They’re going to be birds of a feather. They’re going to be similar to the people that they hang out with because A-players are not probably going to want to recommend people that would damage their reputation. Is that fair?
I know I’m being a little facetious here. You’ve got your recruiting costs down, which can range 20%, 25% if you’re using a recruiter. You’re increasing your profitability immediately by doing this. Andy, this has been awesome. I’m so grateful you’re here. I know everybody reading is very grateful. Is there anything else that I didn’t ask you around this that maybe I should have?
Not that I can think of. We can talk about this for hours. To me, you’ve got to define the job right. You’ve got to write that ad that tells the truth and you’ve got to screen them up front so you eliminate your bias and you’re only talking to the people that fit your criteria. You’ve got to do a structured interview with a scorecard, onboard them properly, and coach them. If you’re not doing all of that, you’re going to have a massive system breakdown and failure.
They love recognition as well. Once you get them there and you’ve got them and you’re keeping them, make sure you reward them with praise. I hate to say it. I’m one of these guys, but I have an ego too. I like to hear that I’m doing a nice job. I always love to conclude on this particular question and I didn’t give it to you upfront because I wanted to get to your brotherly love out of this question. Whether it’s living or passed, if you could become a superhero for a day and you could affect change in any way possible, who would that superhero be and what changes would you put in?
I have no idea on that one, Doug. Does it have to be a known superhero?
It could be anybody. It could be living or fictitious.
I don’t know what I would call the superhero. I’d love to say I’d end famine, poverty, war and all that stuff. What I would do is be a superhero that would give everybody the gift of wanting to understand each other. We don’t need to be the same. We all have different desires, goals and dreams, but is there any reason why we can’t co-exist? I would give everybody the desire, the goal and the ability to understand each other because that’s your starting point. If you can’t even talk, nothing gets done.
We’ll call that Captain Insight or Captain Understanding.
I like Captain Insight.
Andy Miller, my good friend, I appreciate you being here. I know everybody else is too. Thank you. This was awesome. Don’t forget to go to www.BigSwiftKick.com. Check it out. Get ahold of Andy if you’re looking to hire people. If you’re looking to grow your company in general, anything on and around the sales side, Andy is your guy. I’ve known him for a long time and he’s as honest as can be and as truthful as can be. Andy, thank you for being here. It’s been a pleasure.
Thanks, Doug. Thanks for having me.
You take care.
That was awesome. Let’s talk about unpacking the A-player list. Here’s the bottom line. Andy gave you a straightforward step-by-step process on identifying, finding, hiring, onboarding and keeping them. You must have a structured interview and structured means same questions for everyone. One of the challenges I see a lot of times with clients that I work with when they’re trying to hire, they get this variation going on and there’s no consistency on how to score these people or what the value is based on the questions. You don’t hire a sales A-player from a resume. They’re going to have impressive resumes, but let’s face it, folks. Most people in resumes, when they’re using resumes, they’re going to embellish upon those resumes.
The way you can use that resume is you can use it to find out if it’s true or not. You can ask questions on and around it to expose those things. A-players will also embellish a bit, but there will be a heck of a lot more truthful than people who have not accomplished these things, but write them down on paper and put them in front. One of the biggest mistakes I see people hiring salespeople is they try to hire on a resume and the reality is the resume is not reality. Andy and I were talking about assessments right after this. We were talking about when they do personality assessments because a lot of times, companies try to use personality assessments and the personality assessments are assessing the personality.
People come back and go, “These are spot on. This is exactly how this person is.” Of course, it is. It’s reading their personality, but that doesn’t tell you can they sell or not. That doesn’t tell you do they have the desire to fight or to win. Most of the time it’s usually around their personality. It’s like cold reading. When people do cold reading, and I’ll call it the mystic or the person who does the cold reading can tell people things about their family because they’re able to cue in on the things that assessments would basically cue in on. People are like, “These are so accurate. My dog Skippy, I was able to talk to him,” things like that.
It doesn’t mean these people are frauds or fakes or anything that. I’m saying there’s a process to all of this and there’s a process to hiring sales top performers. I was hiring top performers on a very consistent basis throughout most of my career. I’ve hired I’m going to say hundreds, if not well over a thousand. I stopped counting. The reality is Andy was part of shaping that whole process. Go to his website and go to the Assessments. Andy is offering a free sales assessment to see how you’re doing, see how you’re doing with your company and if you want to hire more sales superstars.
This has been a pleasure. It’s been an honor having him on here. Andy is a very busy guy and, again, we’re like family. He came on to help us out and here, what we’re doing is we’re bringing in people who have accomplished things in business or those people who are serving them. If you know anybody that you’d recommend to come here, please send me an email at Doug@BusinessSuccessFactors.com or call me directly at (603) 595-0303. If you love this show and you love the content, please give it an honest rating. If it’s a five star, please give a five-star rating. I would appreciate that. If you find that this particular episode or any episode could help someone else, they’re trying to hire top performers, please share it with your folks.
This information is not readily available on this particular episode or any of them, but it’s truthful information and it will help that person get to the next level. It might save them from spending out monies that they’re not supposed to, increasing their profitability and who knows. If they get the process down on how to hire these A-players, they might double their sales and be very grateful to you. I’m grateful you’re here. I’m grateful you’re reading. Until the next time, be awesome and to your success.