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ager. In the process they lose their best
producer and create a mediocre manager.
That’s because many top performers are
naturals and lack the understanding and
discipline of the sales process that even
good sales people need for success.
Hire a great coach and manager to
manage and you will see immediate
Second, hire people who naturally want
to do what is required for success in your
business. I think the only way to find them
is to use a behavioral assessment that
validates against your job. When you do,
you will find that the assessment helps
you identify those people before you even
interview them. Nearly every Fortune 500
company uses this approach. They do it
because it works time after time.
Third, pick a sales process and a sales
training program that supports it and stick
to it. Bringing in new trainers every year to
‘motivate’ the team is counterproductive.
There are great systems that work and will
still work 10 years from now. Your sales
people are not capable of taking bits and
pieces from every trainer-du-jour and
synthesizing their own process from it.
It’s unfair to ask them to do it and it won’t
You advocate hiring with assess-
ments and ensuring improved
results by recruiting better. What are some
key indicators of a good sales rep?
Great question. The key indicators
of a good sales rep depend on the
product, the market, the company culture
and the source of leads. It takes a different
type of rep to cold-call a new city than it
does to serve well-established accounts.
Every manager knows this but many still
keep switching people around as if it was
not true. Qualified assessment consultants
will help you define the ideal person for
each situation and then show you how to
attract and hire them.
From our research, we know that the rep
who is best suited for nurturing existing
accounts will have a lower drive and higher
sense of service. They value relationships
and will take the clients side in most situ-
ations. On the other hand, our research
shows that reps who are ideal for cold
calling or selling new and complex prod-
ucts (like digital) will tend to have a higher
sense of self and be more goal and money
motivated. These reps are less concerned
with being liked and more interested in
making the sale and moving on to the next
opportunity. As you can tell, pairing these
two can often be the best way to grow a ter-
ritory while holding on to existing accounts.
Behavioral assessments can identify these
traits before you even interview them and
ensure that you are getting the right rep
for the situation.
Can you share some specific tools
that LMA members could imple-
ment right away to recruit, select appli-
You’re a sales pro, author, sales trainer
and founder of Waterhouse Group
and Predictive Results and recently spoke
at the Local Media Association/Blinder Local
Revenue Summit about sales management
and the power of hiring with assessments. I
want to probe some of the lessons you taught
there but before we get into that, can you
please share a bit about your credentials and
expertise that brings you to running your
sales consulting company?
I started my career as a design engineer
on the Patriot Missile system and soon
discovered that I was not cut out to work in a
cubicle! Within three years I was recruited by
a semiconductor company to be their field
expert. That meant that I traveled with the top
sales people and gave the technical part of the
sales presentations to companies like AT&T and
IBM. It was a wonderful training ground and I
soon found my technical/sales balance tipped
towards sales as the regional sales manager
for a small semiconductor testing company.
In two years I built a team that more than
tripled the sales of the company and helped
sell it off. Unemployed and needing a job, I
started a community newspaper, built a great
sales team who helped make us number one
in the state and sold it to a competitor. Again
unemployed (see the trend), I started a sales
training company to help others achieve the
type of success I had found. That was 22 years
ago and we are still going strong!
I love the name of your company -
Predictive Results – and all the confi-
dence that it exudes. That said, much of your
personal sales success comes from outside of
the media industry. Tell me how you transfer
your skill set and teachings to the local news
While I have sold more than my share
of ad space, I also work in industries as
diverse as pharmaceuticals and locomotives.
The common thread is simple: everyone wants
something when they buy. When you know
what that is, you can help them get it. The
more quantitative it is, the easier it is to define
it and to prove that you can deliver.
Every business owner wants something
more than results from advertising. They may
want to retire early or have the revenue to hire
a manager or open another store. When you
know their goals and can show them the path
to achieving them, you will likely make the big
sale. The big sale is the sale that reaches the
goal. It won’t be an ad this week or a banner
on the web site. It won’t be a 10 week run. It
will be a partnership of business that will last
until the goal is reached.
You told us at the Revenue Summit that
typically, sales teams on the whole are
underperforming with the top 25% outselling
the bottom performers by huge margins. It
seems that every sales team has a ‘star’ who,
plain and simple, outperforms everyone else.
Isn’t that normal? What are some the issues
that contribute to this tilted result?
Stars are special people who consistently
do the right thing at the right time and
more often than anyone else. Many are naturals
and just happened to find a career where the
things they like to do are the same as the things
you need them to do to be successful. Since
most hiring managers have no idea how to
spot this unique creature, it is likely that there
will be very few of them on a given sales force.
It’s not the manager’s fault. The complex set of
behavioral factors, experience and skills that
make a winner are hard, if not impossible, to
spot without the right tools.
That is also why you see the wide per-
formance gap in team. The hiring manager
thought they would all be at least ‘B’ players
or they would not have hired them. As I said
above, it’s more complicated than any indi-
vidual can see from the outside. As a result,
well-meaning and highly skilled managers hire
teams where the top quartile outperforms the
bottom quartile by 500% or more.
Can you share some practical tips for
redeeming existing underperform-
Sure, but why? We always try to fix the
poor ones rather than maximizing the
good ones. Far too much time is spent trying
to make hiring mistakes into productive sales
people. I prefer to hire only those who have a
higher than average probability for success
and then provide them with the best training
and support I can give them. Go ahead and
let your underperformers attend the training
sessions but spend your time helping your best
become better. The return on investment will
be hundreds of times greater.
What are some of the other common
problems blocking dramatically better
sales results? And, the solutions for overcom-
First of all, most companies promote
their best sales person to be their man-
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Q & A with...
wAterhouse, PAGe 16
President - Predictive Results
Building top performing sales teams
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