Having the right people and the right talent on your team can spell the difference between a successful business venture and a failed one. You must learn how to hire for success, and our guest in this episode is the right person to teach you how. Doug C. Brown is joined by the Co-Founder and CEO of the Talent Magnet Institute®, Mike Sipple, Jr. Mike tackles the hot topic of acquiring talent and his strategies in hiring the right people for the job. This is a must-listen if you’re actively hiring talent or want to learn the best way to do so!
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Hire For Success: Choosing The Right People For Your Team With Mike Sipple, Jr.
I’ve got a great guest. His name is Mike Sipple, Jr. He has two companies. One is called Talent Magnet Institute and the other is Centennial. I had the pleasure of interviewing Mike. He’s the President of a third-generation executive search firm, and that is called Centennial. He’s the Cofounder and CEO of a global leadership platform consultancy, which is called the Talent Magnet Institute. He also has his own podcast and it reaches about 46,000 listeners worldwide. He interviews leaders from all over the world. He’s a writer, an advisor, public speaker, holistic leader, inclusive and equitable workplaces, and does a lot of good things on how to be a talent magnet.
In our episode here, we discussed hiring in general, how do you hire and how do you elevate that person within the organization? It is a key growth strategy because adding more salespeople increases your reach as long as you do it in the right way, but you want to hire the right salespeople, as we all know. Mike has gone through this for a long time. He’s been around for twenty-plus years and seen a lot of good stuff. What I love about him is he’s always proactive and he’s constantly trying to grow and stay ahead of his industry and stay ahead in the human growth of the person themselves, and bringing out their greatness in the organization. He’s an advocate and a consummate student of this process as well and he brings that to his clients.
I have an excellent guest here. I’m excited to speak with him because he is skilled, and I would call him an expert in the field of hiring and unlocking people’s potential, and their greatest assets and potential within a company. His name is Mike Sipple. Welcome, Mike.
Doug, thank you so much for having us. I’m excited to be here with you and your audience.
Mike, thanks for being here. I know you own two companies. Could you tell us what you do so we can set the frame?
I’m the President and Primary Shareholder of a boutique executive search firm that basically helps organizations in succession planning and building high-performing teams. I’ve been doing that for over 21 years. A few years ago, my leadership team of that search firm, my father, and I cofounded a leadership development platform called the Talent Magnet Institute. It’s basically a leadership community for individuals who know that the bottom line is important but want to lead beyond the bottom line, and that are leveraging coaching, consulting, best practices, organizational development, human development, best practices, and their leadership approach to becoming a talent magnet. I’ve got two teams, one has about sixteen people on it for a search firm. Our talent development organization has around 45 people as a whole connected to it through employees and 1099.
One of the reasons I am happy you’re here is because you work with a lot of great clients and people. A lot of them have built companies well over $5 million in revenue, so you get some exposure to what’s going on within their companies and hopefully, we could share a few of those strategies. I’d love to focus on hiring because hiring is a huge pain point for many organizations, and not so much even hiring but how do you hire the right talent and how do you develop that talent? A lot of companies I have found can bring in an A-player to the company but they can’t keep the A-player because they’re not developing the potential of that person or giving them the pathway. Have you ever found that in your travels?
Countless times, Doug. The other dynamic that we see is just because they’re an A-player in one environment and one culture doesn’t mean that you’re going to be able to unlock their potential when they join you. There’s no doubt that people leave for a reason, and people perform well for a reason. The more intentional we all are, and we can unpack that in this episode, of the way things to think about that’s like, “That makes complete sense,” but so easily we forget that people are human, need the right support and motivation. Most importantly, they need to be aligned with your strategy and organization. To be frank, they stink at aligning their talent to their strategy.
That’s so key in any performance of anything when it comes down to it. I look at sports. I’ll stay with the New England Patriots because I know their quarterback. We had a particular quarterback who got some playing time but Tom Brady was there and he didn’t get the playing time. All of a sudden, he gets traded off or acquired by San Francisco and they go to the Super Bowl. That’s unlocking somebody’s potential at another location. We’ve all seen the sportsperson go, “We’re going to be traded.” I remember the Red Sox acquired this third baseman from San Diego originally, and they paid him something $31 million a year and he couldn’t perform at all with the Red Sox but he was good at the other team. Your point is just because some isn’t an A-player at one company doesn’t necessarily mean that they will be an A-player company at the other company. It has to have all that other alignment.People leave for a reason. People perform well for a reason, too. Click To Tweet
Also, spending time there. In our search firm, we have a proprietary process called the Four C Recruiting Process, where Character, Culture, Chemistry and Competency are the four things that we’re constantly looking at from an organizational perspective and an individual perspective. Why does that matter? Because if they understood what made that individual so successful, not in the criteria and KPIs they were supposed to hit, but the environment they were around, the support team they had, the peers, the individuals, the environment that they worked in, and the culture that was created. That type of activity unlocks an individual’s full potential. If you go back to an individual who wasn’t a player and failed miserably in their next environment, you go, “I didn’t know you had a sales assistant in your last company?” They’re like, “Yeah. He or she was the one who made me a rock star.”
We don’t ask enough questions about those things, “They also provide an XYZ benefit and that motivated me so much that I’ve walked through walls for them,” but you don’t hear that, “I don’t feel as motivated to do the things that I love doing best.” We have to understand that. I always say, especially with organizations that are a little bit lighter revenue, that sometimes there’s only legacy talent that’s ever been successful in sales and there’s a reason. When we make it too hard for people to break in or we expect them to hit the ground running. Which is, to be frank, we all understand what that means but sometimes we take it too literally and we don’t give people the foundation to even be successful.
I have found that time and time again. In fact, a lot of companies hire me to come in to assess their sales process before they start hiring people. When they’re smart, they do that. Many times I will find things like, “You do not have an adequate onboarding process and training process for the company,” or you’re going to love this one, Mike, they’re asking all candidates all different questions so there’s no way to score. They hire on, “I like this person so I thought it’d be good in sales. His resume looks good.” I’m like, “Everybody lies on their resume to some degree.” What you’re saying is to look at how they worked in the past jobs. Don’t be in a rush in the interview or in the hiring process to ask these quality questions, because those are the small rocks that if you pull it out, all the other rock starts sliding.
You’re asking people, “What do you believe has made you most successful? What did your support team look like? What did the sales process look like that you believed would allow you to move your clients further faster because of what your last organization had set up? What do you set up when you come into a new environment in order to optimize the strengths that you bring and also manage the weaknesses that you bring?”
It’s one of the reasons why people who have been in roles for extended periods of time, whether that’s 3 years, 12 years or longer, have built systems around them to help them optimize their day- to-day, week-to-week, quarter-to-quarter processes. We need to understand those so we can help further support. This is what we do when we peel back the onion layers when we’re building a sales team, when we’re adding key sales, talent, hiring, sales, leadership, hiring individual contributors, that are critical to an organization’s success, we’re going deep into those details because the details matter. Achieve this goal, increased sales buy-in, reduced expense and all of those kinds of things sound great on a resume, but I want to know how and why. What motivated you to hit those goals five years in a row?
The other area is what about the rest of the organization? How did you handle internal engagements? How did you manage internal processes to make sure your clients were satisfied? What was the handoff between the supply chain, operations, marketing, and sales organization? I want to hear how they’re thinking, and what they’ve done to make others successful as well because it takes more than one person to make a client satisfied.
What you said here is so key because you’re looking at the 360 holistic view of the candidate and how it fits in the organization, and you’re looking at the organization from a 360 point of view saying, “How does it match the candidate?” Particularly with salespeople, you hire executives for all types, as well as top-performing sales talent. I have found in companies that when I go in there, they haven’t looked at these facets. They’re in such a rush to hire somebody.
I try to explain to them up front, “If you make a bad hire, it’s going to take you 2 to 3 months to recover from that. If you do the same process, you’re going to do it 2 or 3 times before you figure it out. You’ve got through 3 to 4 candidates before you even get the right candidate. Instead of 3 months, take 4 or 5 months and get the right person because the cost of turnover of a salesperson is high.” Some people spend $1 million acquiring a salesperson because you’ve got to figure base salaries and all kinds of lost revenue and all things that happen after that.
Also, the customer experience when you transition an account or when you’re introducing the new sale, all of that is opportunity cost or opportunity to generate more and to increase. That all has to go into the thought process of why we have to get alignment with everyone before we go and hire. We need to define not what we’ve hired in the past but what’s important for our future. Often, companies are looking for the problem that they can see right up in their eyes, the whole trees and the forest analogy, but what are we trying to create here? Where do we see ourselves in 2, 3, 5 years and the hire for the future?
Often, we hire for what was in the past and we wonder why people aren’t helping us get to the future. It happens all the time. Specifically in sales, people lack patience. Business development, relation development, trust and building relational capital does take time. You have to remember, when individuals have been successful in past roles, they’ve had that time to build that relational capital. You have to think about that dynamic too and opportunity cost that it takes time.
I remember I had a VP of Sales that I worked with in the food and beverage industry. In fact, a few individuals that we have placed with him had called me and said, “The head of sales has zero patience and doesn’t understand that it’s going to take time for us to be successful.” I called that head of sales to share that message that you’re sending this frustration throughout your new hires and they’re frustrated and feel ill-equipped. They feel they’ve already lost your trust before they ever even started building momentum and you need to be patient.
I’m happy to say after twelve years, we have placed 10 individuals, and 9 are still with the organization. That company went from $150 million to $525 million in that time period. That sales organization grew and expanded, and they added more, but that base of those nine sales leaders, this head of sales backed off a little bit and said, “I’m going to give you time and I’m going to be more patient.” They’re like, “You hired us and we’re already behind 6 months.” Having patience also matters. While we know we have to be diligent, we know we have to be aggressive and we’ve got to go for the goals, but also have patience with your sales team.
What I’m hearing is the power of doing it right. Mike, I can imagine people sitting here reading and they’re going, “You guys got my attention. I do want to hire top-performing people and not just sales but in all aspects. Where do I start? What do I do?” What would you say?
One, I would continue to read episodes of this show because you’re going to gain some great insights from people who have been there before. Two, sit down with your team and talk about it. Think about what you need to be successful over the next 18 and 36 months. What’s going to help us get to our goals? Talk about that with your leadership team to build clarity and alignment, and spend some time with your current successful sales talent and the individuals who interact with that talent inside your organization. Find out what they think helps them be most successful. Do some internal assessment and some internal alignment, then create that clarity. Have the message and go to market with that message, “Here’s what we’re looking for. Here’s the environment we provide. Do you thrive in X, Y and Z? If so, we believe we can provide the culture for you. Here are the types of individuals whose behaviors that we know are most successful in our organization and that’s what we’re seeking.”Often, we hire for what was in the past, and then we wonder why people aren't helping us get to the future. Click To Tweet
Spend the time upfront to measure three times cut once. Take your time to plan, share the message, have your elevator pitch of what talent you’re always looking for, and that would be another thing, I would add. Don’t treat it as an on and off switch with sales talent. Treat it as a magnet, where we’re welcoming people with these types of behaviors, to do this and achieve that with our organization, and here’s the purpose and why we do what we do. If this is you, we would love for you to contact us. We would love for our employees to be sharing that good word with their network because you should always be looking for top sales talent.
It’s because people don’t stay, times change and different things happen, so you want to be on the cutting-edge of that, at least having your pipeline filled with candidates over time. I have found when people do that, all of a sudden a magical new position can open up in a company trying to expand their sales. I love what you said about internal assessment and alignment first and get the messaging done because that’s the thing that I preach to people all the time. A lot of times, people hire me to do that part of it. You just come in. They don’t have time to do it so I’ll do the scoping and figure it all out for them and get them everything that they need. I always tell people, “You don’t want to be running down a bumpy road with gunpowder in your hand.”
You’re going to make a bad decision.
I took that when I was in the military. I saw people running from cannon to cannon with discharges and gunpowder. I was like, “Oh my gosh.” The reality is if people do smooth that all upfront like you’re saying they should, they’ll have a better hire on the backend because all of those clears the way to bring somebody on successfully, to make sure that they are successful to be able to build their talent within the organization. It’s sage advice.
It’s the only way. When individuals say, “How do you do these things successfully?” we’re equipping our clients to be very intentional, maybe uncomfortably so because most people, especially individuals, I have found like myself that are in the sales and BP space, patience is typically not our number one trait, and that’s what’s made us successful. I can tell you that taking the extra time to create the alignment and buy-in across the organization and within the function will help make sure you’re going after the right people. You’re sending the right message. If more are involved in creating the role and what we need to achieve more success and additional success, the easier that person will onboard and assimilate into their new environment. People are like, “We’ve been waiting for you. We cannot wait to help you be successful.”
That is critically important because of several reasons. One of the main things that I’ve seen happen is the CEO, the sales team, and the sales VP get together, “We’re going to hire somebody.” They never go to operations and say, “If we hire five people and we ramp it up quickly, can you handle this?” They make the assumption or they don’t include customer service, which to me is a sales function anyways. The salespeople are selling and everything’s getting dumped on to customer service. It creates all of the stress within an organization, but if operations, customer service, human resources, benefit planning, whatever needs to be in the company, including marketing, is all aligned and they say, “This is what makes a great client journey here at our company. This is what we would recommend you would look at when you’re going to get a salesperson, a sales manager, whatever it might be.”
The other thing is use it to your advantage. I understand that there are deals that happen that you need to hire someone now because the fire has been lit, someone’s resigned, something took place, that was unfortunate that the person had to exit quickly. If you can get proactive, you can even involve your customers. Asking your clients who they have loved to work with over their career, who are the individuals that stand out to you, the people that were a joy when they sat across from you to put together some of the biggest, most successful deals in your career?
Even if those individuals don’t become candidates, they will refer you to other top talent. It’s a secret sauce. It’s one of the things that we do. We’re always asking, “Can we talk to a few of your top clients?” If we’re successful, we might get twelve additional names from talking to your customer who wants you to be successful. You’re not going to get individuals that aren’t successful because they know they might end up in this seat right across from them on the next top-to-top, client meeting or plan review, etc. It’s another great strategy for identifying successful sales talent.
We’ve done all that groundwork, we got them all the way there and now we’re in the interview process. We’re into the, “Let’s gather them in the interview process.” Where do you see companies are making mistakes in that process? They’ve got all the ground information done, yet still it could fall apart.
One is not being organized. We don’t believe that everyone should be asking the same questions individually. If I’m going through five interviews, you need to have some diversity in those interview questions. You need to make sure that the people interviewing are interested in being in the interviewing process because things blow up. When a high-performing candidate walks in and goes, “This individual didn’t even want to be in the room with me,” they were on to the next thing. Nothing ruins an interview process more quickly than making someone feel unwanted, which happens all the time.
The other dynamic is feedback. Being able to have a consistent, well-managed process. Treat your candidates as if they were a future customer. It will blow your mind at how different you will start looking at the interview process. Most of you reading would go, “Is it possible that if I’m interviewing sales talent that sales talent could at some point be with a client or customer of mine, and they’re going to remember their experience with us?” It’s a game-changer when you go, “That can happen.” Your bad interviewing experiences could affect your sales pipeline because people are out sharing negative experiences more than they’re sharing positive. You don’t want that to be a negative out in the marketplace that you can’t control. You can get ahead of that and you can control that.
Thinking through, what would it be like and maybe even go through the process yourself, “What does it feel like to be a candidate here in my organization? If I were to go ask them the recent five hires that came into my company, what they did and did not like about the interviewing process with us, what would I learn?” Go ask that question. Maybe call 3 or 4 top candidates that you can remember over the years, “I like that individual but I don’t know why they’re not here.” Go ask them what the experience was like.
You can go through lots of different auditing processes to learn that, but having consistent good experiences for candidates matters. Ensuring that everyone who’s in the interviewing process wants to be there and knows that there’s no more important role right now, in this moment, than interviewing this highly qualified candidate to attract them to our business. That’s going to grow our business. Put the phone down and remove your distractions, this time with this individual is paramount for your business’ success.
What I’m hearing is instead of hiring for an ideal profile, hire for the ideal client because if we go look for a client and we’re doing marketing, for example, a lot of companies will talk about, “We’ve got to get our ideal profile down,” but what I say is, that’s part of the of your ideal client. What do you want the actual client to be? Not just the profile of the person. In the case of hiring sales talent, people can fit a profile but they can’t fit the ideal client. I love what you said about if you were going to interview them as they were the end-buyer in a lot of ways.
I’m a big proponent on simulating the working conditions in the process of hiring so you know exactly what you’re getting. This is good stuff. Mike, I appreciate this and I know the readers are as well. I’d like to ask you a question regarding up-leveling talent because I know this is a big passion of yours. I remember reading an article you wrote, and one of your good friends had passed away in 2019. I’m sorry for that. That sparked you on a pathway to not just be an executive search from but the spin-off, Talent Magnet Institute for leadership and for growing people’s potential.
Some people say, “I know how leaders should be, and leaders are born not made or whatever.” I’ve always understood that everybody tends to have some leadership characteristics, but they’re not trained on how to be a leader or not trained on how to open up their potential. I love what you said in another article, which is, “Organizations who build enough trust for their people and are willing to take the risk to empower their people.” We’ve got the hire and they’re doing fine. How important is it to develop them into a leader or develop their human potential versus their job role?As an employer, we should be looking at the individuals as humans, not someone who's here to just do a job. Click To Tweet
To us, it’s everything. As an employer, we should be looking at the individuals as humans not someone who’s here to do a job. We’ve heard often about allowing people to be their whole selves. You and I both know that when we show up, we’re bringing everything with us of who we are, what we’ve experienced, and what we’ve lived. I care deeply about the people that I’m around and that have said yes to the offers that we’ve made with them to join us. I know that if I help them be successful at the things they’re trying to achieve, personally, let’s be truthful, you don’t live to work. You work to live. There are things that you do as you work that enable the things that you want to do in your life. We’re looking for a job that we’d love and we’re passionate about, but also enables the other things we want to achieve.
Often, there are individuals who don’t get personal enough. You referenced a good friend of mine who passed away. He took his life. There was deep and dark loneliness, and yet this individual was on the cover of the book, one of the most successful people that most people would say they’ve ever known. Yet, there were things going on that he didn’t feel like he can turn to individuals. Unfortunately, there are also mental health struggles and challenges that led to him taking his own life. Our goal as two organizations is to create environments where people feel safe, valued, heard and understood. I want to know the challenges that my employees are wrestling through, so we can see Is there anything we can do to help? I’ve heard a variety of leaders over the years that have said, “This one organization, when my daughter got cancer, they supported my family in ways that I could never have even imagined. I’ll never leave this company.”
A few years ago, I had one sales executive who approached me at a conference in Chicago. This was at a client dinner that was a part of the conference. He said, “Mike, I have never worked in a culture where I have felt more safe and I can do my job without worrying about what was going on behind me, beside me underneath and above me. I can do my best work. I’ve been in sales for 32 years and I’ve never felt this way.” That’s an environment you want to create for your people. Essentially, that’s what we advocate for and seek out.
We look for companies and leaders that are trying to create that environment for humans. I know that if I give a leader three questions to ask their team over the next three weeks, if I ask their team in three weeks, “How are things going?” their team will come back and say, “I feel so understood.” All of a sudden, barriers that they have in their minds, things that they’re wrestling with and struggling with, you can’t leave it behind at home when you come to work. Especially now where a lot of us are still working in our home, we’ve got to understand and we’ve got to get appropriately personal which unfortunately, we have to say.
We need to care about our people, we need to think beyond the bottom line. We need to remember that it’s a privilege to have employees who have said yes to you. It’s a privilege to compensate employees for them achieving success, and they are helping us ultimately achieve what we’re trying to achieve. Let’s all get together and figure out how we can help each other win. That’s essentially what we’re doing at the Talent Magnet Institute. We’re providing the tools, the mindsets, the resources, and the community to help us start thinking about how to become a Talent Magnet, how to help others reach their fullest potential, feel valued, heard and understood.
Mike, I know you have a pretty cool little cool quiz on your website. Can I get the URL for the quiz to go take it?
If you go to TalentMagnet.com/quiz, it is a self-care assessment that will help you identify where you are and how to immediately take actions to get into either maintain where you are and keep doing that and here are tools to keep you focused. Doug, I took it and I recognized that I am not feeling that I’m overworking. I’m not taking care of myself. I’ve been in the grind, making sure that the company stays alive and our clients are vibrant and things are happening because it has been a grind for all of us. We’ve all dealt with all types of in some cases, devastating change, and in some cases incredible opportunity that’s brought more stress to our lives than ever.
I did a little self-check and realized that I’ve got to get back on my spinning bike, I need to boot up the Peloton app, I need to hire my trainer again that I had let go of because I had gotten so busy. When I contacted her, she said, “Mike was everything okay? We started rescheduling appointments and you were gone.” I allowed work to consume me and that’s not healthy. This is what I talk about publicly all over the world, and I joke with my team, they use my own medicine against me and it shook me to my core. It’s a free quiz. There are lots of resources designed and in there. It’s TalentMagnet.com/quiz.
Go take the quiz, folks. It’s an interesting quiz and you’ll learn something about yourself. If you find like Mike said that you’re overworking yourself and you’re not taking care of yourself, remember, if you don’t have your health, everything else is going to fall apart. It’s no more complicated or more simplistic than that. Mike, I want to thank you for being here. It’s been a great pleasure. I know you had some leadership discussion cards. Do you want to give those away?
What I love to do is if you go to TalentMagnet.com/giveaway, that’s for all of you in the audience of this show, we’re going to do a random drawing of five individuals and send you some leadership discussion cards. They also come with our membership at TalentMagnet.com, so we’d be happy to welcome anyone into that community as well. It will help you elevate your leadership. If you have direct reports and they have direct reports, you can hand them off to them. This is intended for people, leaders and individuals who are influencing every day and building into others, so it would be an honor to provide that to at least five of you.
Thank you, Mike. I appreciate that and I know people will. Mike, I want to thank you for being here. In closing, is there anything that you were hoping for like, “I hope he asked this question and he didn’t,” or anything like that?
You did a fantastic job drawing out and clicking on the key aspects of what we talked about. I encourage us all to be intentional. Be intentional in your personal life and work life. We talked about life prioritization. There’s no such thing as full balance, in my opinion. You’re constantly prioritizing what’s most important but as you referenced, we’ve got to take care of ourselves and you need to help others take care of themselves too. The scary part is you might be the first employer who’s ever cared enough to help take care of those on your team. Do that and some of the B-players will turn into A’s. Some of the Cs will turn into A-minuses, and you’ll have a high-performing team before you know it because you’re taking the next step to elevate your people.
I fully concur and promote everything you said. Thank you for saying it again. Mike, thanks again. It’s been a pleasure and I appreciate you being here.
Thank you so much, Doug.
That was a great episode. I learned a lot. How about you? The thing about hiring is it’s not about an ideal profile, it’s about how you create an ideal culture for the people that are coming in so you get what I would call the ideal client. We look in business, for example, for a client that not only can buy and is qualified but that we’re going to enjoy being around and we’re going to have happier days because they’re there. The people that you hire also directly affect everyone’s mood and everyone’s day. If you hire the right people, they all work in a symbiotic relationship. If you hire the incorrect way of people that are not a good fit, they create destruction and devastation in some capacities in the organization, and it’s extremely important to be patient. Mike and I were talking about that as part of the interview.
Do it right. Don’t just get in there. Sometimes you’ve got to hire quickly, I get it, but if you can take a little bit of extra time and have some patience in that process, you’re going to fare extremely well. If you have any comments, please send them. If you love this one or any of the other CEO Sales Strategy shows, please give it a great review, a five-star would be nice. Share it with your friends and let me know what you want me to talk about next, who you might want me to interview, and I’ll be happy to go get those guests. I do this for my own personal pleasure of doing a show, but I also do it because I know it helps people. How do I know that? People send me emails, comments, LinkedIn and all kinds of things. Don’t forget to check out the giveaway and the quiz on Mike and his website. Until next time. Go sell something. Go sell a lot. Be successful to your success.
About Mike Sipple, Jr.
Mike Sipple, Jr. is the Co-Founder and CEO of the Talent Magnet Institute®, an organization that provides leaders with tools, resources, and support to develop a holistic approach to leadership. Mike also hosts the Talent Magnet Institute podcast, which has been downloaded more than 50,000 times by global leaders from 80+ different countries.
The Talent Magnet Institute podcast boldly tackles “real-time” the toughest issues leaders face daily: from optimizing teams, building inclusive and equitable cultures, and empowering others to the loneliness and fatigue unique to those at the top of the org chart.