Want to Hire Talent? Here’s 3 Ways to Fail.

Despite all the bad news that pours in over the air waves, I continue to find evidence that our economy is strengthening. The most striking evidence is the number of business owners that are looking to increase the size of their workforce. It’s also striking that the desire to hire is almost immediately followed by the complaint that you just cannot find good talent.

I’m old enough to remember the malaise the US fell into after the OPEC oil embargo and the taking of US hostages in Iran. It seems that the 2008 recession and the divisive politics that followed have had the same chilling effect. Changing the conversation from Carter’s “what to do about inflation” to Reagan’s “we are a great nation and it’s time to show it” was all it took to get the economy in high gear. Focusing positivity on hiring strategies will also bring improved results. Here are three common attitudes that can derail your hiring initiative and business:

“I need to find talent” Too often, I hear people say they need to find good talent. My response is always, “Do you want to find good talent or attract it?” If you find good talent, there’s no guarantee they’ll accept the job or not leave after a few months. Whether you’re “finding” or “attracting,” you know employees of high skill and character are in short supply. Successful companies create two or three viable reasons for why someone would want to work for them. In addition, they have a compelling story for where their business is going.

“I’ve have had problems with younger employees, so I’ll keep looking for older ones” Never mind that it’s against the law, it’s just bad business. My career has spanned…umm…several decades and I cannot remember one time that a company did not draw on the fresh ideas of youth to carry the business forward. Younger employees will bring in innovation and ideas that will position your company for the future. It is worth tackling the challenge of adapting your company culture to embrace younger employees’ work preferences.

“If it was good enough for me, it’s good enough for them” I read an article last week that half of Millennials surveyed were dissatisfied with how they were “on-boarded” at their company. For those not familiar, on-boarding refers to initial employee training and orientation. Younger employees expect companies to be more socially responsible and motivated to build relationships with their employees. A relationship includes some empathy for the reality that employees face today and a willingness to take the time to explain what is expected of them and how they will be developed to meet those expectations. Employers wanting a simple labor rental agreement will have difficulty.

Please share your thoughts on hiring. And as always, if you have questions I’m glad to help.

5 Sales Lessons from Donald Trump

PoliticianDonald Trump, love him or hate him, has captured the attention of the nation. While Mr. Trump’s empire has had booms and busts, he has always proven himself to be a master salesman. His campaign has benefited from his sales prowess; but it has also raised questions about his intentions with this campaign. In my mind, voting is a decision to buy a candidate’s vision. Below are some lessons to consider about that “buying/selling” experience:

Establish an emotion connection upfront: Much of the country is frustrated with the slow economic growth and weakening institutions. It has left many feeling angry and isolated from the elected leadership. Mr. Trump’s brash and angry comments about Washington have formed a strong bond with the disaffected that allows extreme behavior with little repercussion. People buy from those that “get them.”

Don’t belittle your competition: In the sales world, attempts to grow your perceived value by diminishing your competition can be catastrophic. Mr. Trump’s insistence on calling his rivals weak and incompetent defies sales logic. Although the media reaction has prompted Mr. Trump to focus on his value and compose some position papers, the lesson here is whether Mr. Trump experiences consequences.

Is your target market big enough? To win the GOP nomination, Mr. Trump will need to attract the supporters of the “weak and incompetent.” To win the election, Mr. Trump will need to gain support from the minorities he has disparaged and dismissed. Sales logic suggests you always chase the broadest audience possible. An exit early next year will suggest that this logic holds.

Can you deliver? Nothing destroys the reputation of a company or a sales person more completely than failing to deliver on your promises. Emotions guide the beginning of the buying process, but usually logic prevails at the end. Mr. Trump has been a fountain of innovation and ideas. And as Mr. Trump would say, “Some of them are good.” Mr. Trump has discounted the legislators whose cooperation he will need to implement his ideas.. While this suggests a bumpy road for Mr. Trump, I concede that the electorate can be very naïve in answering this question about candidates.

It’s always about the customer, not you: Wise salespeople understand that effective sales is about understanding their customers’ needs and allowing customers to discover how a proposed solution can satisfy those needs. I often wish we had more wise politicians. When a salesperson or politician starts telling their customer what they are going to do for them, people often tune out. Mr. Trump has been doing a lot of telling and I wonder if the electorate will decide if he is acting in their interest.

It takes a lot of courage to run for President and I respect Mr. Trump for his effort. The campaign is played out where everyone can see. The salesperson’s campaign is viewed only by their prospects and customers. While it may seem I am picking on Mr. Trump, the real point here is that countless sales people fail these lessons every day. Please contact me if you want to discuss further.