Labels Are For Jars: 3 Reasons Why Labeling Your Sales Will Fail You

It’s funny the way #millennials get grouped into this category of people that don’t want to work hard, don’t want to work their way up, but will continuously expect greatness and to be valued. Now, don’t get me wrong – I’m a millennial, whether I want to admit it sometimes or not. However, I am very hardworking, have usually held down 2+ jobs since the age of 16, and am very content with my title of “Manager” because I understand that in my realm of experience, graduating to a Director level would be premature given my experience in my industry. However, I do expect greatness and to be valued. I think everyone does.

In that line of thought, and being the English major that I was, I’ve been thinking significantly of the values given toward words and phrases. For instance, a word is simply a collection of letters, strung together, with a common understanding of what those words, in that order, mean. Conventional wisdom gives it meaning, and sometimes that can help or hurt you. What we might consider a cuss word in the US, is used frequently as a commonplace “fun” word in the UK. We give the words power by how they are used.

This fails you just as much when it comes to labeling.

With the beginning of the calendar year and most companies’ Q1’s just a few weeks ago, I’ve been turning over some of my leads that have quarterly, semi-annually or annually set call backs. Why? Because they asked for it. When explaining these concepts to my boss or my intern, I get faces when I use certain words, and frankly, it’s gotten to me. So here’s what I’ve found that will, undoubtedly, ruin what you have in your sales plan. If you keep to labels, that is.


1. “Can you just send me an email?” is obviously code for “I’m never going to give you my business, so bye”

Yes, let’s start here. First of all, no. Second of all, you’re in sales! How are you going to ignore this?! I’ve worked for such a myriad of companies and managers that have said this phrase, but I’ve also had this phrase used on me, and have used it as my foot in the door. Are there some people that do this? Yeah, absolutely. But they’re not the rule anymore. In this game of social selling on top of your traditional selling model, comparison shopping is your obvious enemy. What I have found, is that your prospects are much more likely to investigate a product or service and compare it to your competitors when you actually give them something. Think about it – if this phrase has become the accepted rule for losing an account, then what do you have to lose by sending out that information and following up? Maybe your competitor didn’t send that email or forward a link or two with explanations. Maybe your competitor has tried to use failed marketing attempts and now they’re blacklisted from your prospect’s server. MAYBE… you need to be human and do what is asked, so that they’ll recall that this potential deal is on their terms, and you could have that sale, but with maybe 20% more time invested in the sales cycle.

2. “I don’t have it in my budget this quarter, but try again next quarter” – clearly they hate you and your company and your dog. 

Again, first of all, no. Have you ever made a list of things you need to do? Have you ever prioritized that list? And have you ever moved things based on timing and circumstance for those priorities? Well – businesses do that, too. I’ve met many sales people that will try and guilt the prospect into a meeting, even though they’re all well aware that there will be no budget. At least not now. How about asking your prospect when it would be a better time to call back and guide them? My favorite is “Ok, that sounds great. So your next quarter starts April 1st, and it looks like the week before I’m wide open on Tuesday and Wednesday. Let’s do it then, so that way when your budget opens, you have the information readily available and it’s fresh. Morning or afternoon?” Simple, easy, effective. You’re still giving them choices, but you’re not using a guilt trip and you’re keeping their limitations in mind. That’s key. Plus, who hates dogs?

3. That company is way too (insert adjective here. Popular options: big, small, corporate, lenient, conservative, liberal, etc.). I won’t even bother. 

Why? Do you not like money? Did the President and CEO shoot your father in cold blood? (Disclaimer: if there really is someone reading this who had their father shot by a President and CEO of a company, I seriously don’t know you, and didn’t want to offend you. Please don’t hate me.) Did you wake up on the wrong side of the bed today? Yeah, I don’t care. You should be ready to tackle any deal, because you shouldn’t limit yourself. Sometimes the company that is the most opposite of you is the most easily understood. Let’s say you’re a rancher, and you have a fantastic farm on top of your cattle. You’re known for your cattle, and love a good steak. Are you going to want to sell to the little vegan shop in your town? Not even a little bit. But – what’s to say the little vegan shop isn’t looking for a more moderately priced vendor for veggies? You may be known for your cattle, but your produce is just as exquisite. By holding your potential prospect’s purse strings, you just lost out on a potentially great deal. Don’t tell yourself that you can’t sell to someone because they’re too _____. You can’t sell to someone because you’re not trying.


All of the concepts I just detailed are things I see far too often. I even succumb to one or another every so often. I’m not perfect. However, it’s true for what’s in my title – labels are for jars. If you try to systematically and categorically label everything in your job, especially for sales, you lose your creativity and you’re not thinking outside of the box. Technology is ever changing, so your mind has to adapt. Teach it ways to rebuke the system so that whenever there’s a systematic failure, you’re automatically NOT systematically following suit.

Interaction · Psychology

Another guest blog from Karen Hinds!

Seeing as how you all thoroughly enjoyed Karen’s last guest spot with us, she has graciously submitted another article for our use to spread the good words to you! With the new year being still a novel concept, many of us are figuring out our resolutions and how to give way to betterment for ourselves and our families. How many times have you already gone up against someone with a big ego? Did they frustrate you? See in Karen’s insightful words below on how to continue to squash the egos without fear, and keep yourself in check, too!

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How to Stand Up to People With Big Egos

People with big egos often frustrate you. They cause you to scratch your head and watch in amazement and disbelief at the things they do and say. Muster all the energy you can find and make an attitude adjustment as you will need it to survive when you are with them. When you do come across the ego too big to come through the doorway, here are some ways to stand in your own power.

See past the mask.  People with big egos seem self-assured and competent, yet they are quite the opposite. The ego is the show they put on to cover the desperation, the need for validation, the hunger to feel worthy of whatever they crave, be it power, fame, respect or acceptance. Think back to the person you dated who came across as full of themselves the first time you met them, only to later learn it was all a facade. If you understand that, you can feel a sense of compassion for the person as you can now see the behavior as a cry for help. Be kind to them but refuse to be a puppet in their show.

Speak with confidence.  Go back to every public speaking tip you ever received. Stay clear of filler words, maintain eye contact, and avoid phrases that make you appear weak: “I feel..,” “I’m not sure..,” or “I just..” minimize your authority. Instead, use words to sound assertive and be the expert or you will find yourself struggling to be heard and further feed their superiority complex.

Don’t get emotional.  Keep your composure, as with the big ego often comes a healthy dose of anger, being difficult and demanding. If this person is your boss or a person in authority that you must work with on a regular basis, then load up on your facts when having discussions. Don’t waste your energy telling them how you feel as it will not get you very far.

Know when to walk away.  Preserve your mental sanity and self-respect. There are instances when no amount of kindness, speaking confidently or resisting emotions will have any impact on an egotistical person. When that happens, it’s time to walk away. Physically walk away to regain your composure or decide what your emotional boundaries will be when you need to be in their presence.

Before you decide to stand up to that person with a big ego, make sure you are not confusing a confident person with a big ego because you are insecure yourself. We all have an ego, so before you start pointing fingers trying to find the egotistical maniacs in your life, recognize that at some point you may be the person perceived to be the one with the big ego in the room.


Karen Hinds is author of 4 books, an international speaker and CEO of Workplace Success Group LLC, a boutique talent development firm.   Karen@workplacesuccess.com

Interviewing · Staffing Trends

Guest Blogging Day! Karen Hinds, of Workplace Success, Shares Her Thoughts!

Karen Hinds, Founder and CEO of Workplace Success Group LLC, found time to catch up with our Business Development Manager, Samantha Lockard, on some key insights for the industry!

With a consistently revolving door of talent, do you ever wonder why things didn’t go the way you expected? Consider Karen’s article below, while she guest blogs this week at Sigma, and see if you fall victim to some of these!


6 Things You May Be Doing That Turn People Off

 Sometimes you do things and have no idea the impact it’s having on the people in your life. You work hard and truly believe you are the best version of yourself, and although that may be true at the moment, let’s look at a few ways you could be turning people off.

 Inconsistent follow-up.  Most sales people fail because they never follow up. The power of networking can only be realized when there is consistent follow-up. You may need to invest a few weeks, months or even years before your networking really begins to work for you at optimum speed.  Lay out a plan and outline a variety of ways in which you can stay connected with your key contacts.

Breaking promises. “Let’s do lunch” or “we should get together” are empty words from some people. Your reputation is the only currency you have to spend. The minute you develop a pattern of not calling when you said you would or not showing up, you devalue your reputation.

Pretending to know the right people. They seem to know everyone but if you dig a little deeper, you quickly realize it’s all smoke and mirrors. Being introduced to an influential person does not mean you know the person. You may look good temporarily but it will always come back to hinder your relationship-building skills in the future.

Professional faultfinders. People who go out of their way to complain constantly and berate coworkers are very insecure with themselves. The only power they feel they possess is the power to speak ill of others and predict doom and gloom. Faultfinders never leave themselves open long enough to see the opportunity that lies in challenging situations. They prefer to spend time talking about the problem and/or person and not about solutions.

 The nonstop talker.  These are the colleagues that corner you at lunch or feel the need to stop by your desk not for a quick hello but a lengthy conversation with no professional relevance. You tune them out, you make excuses to leave the room or you might even hide from them but they still miss the hint. The nonstop talkers can make your daily work routine unbearable at times.

Sticking only to your job description. You can almost hear it echoing down the halls when a team member says, “That’s not in my job description.” In today’s economy, job descriptions are simply a guideline the company uses so you know what to expect in general.  Widen your skill level every opportunity you get. Having the added experience will build your résumé and let upper level management know that you are serious about your career advancement.


Karen Hinds is author of 4 books, an international speaker and CEO of Workplace Success Group LLC, a boutique talent development firm.   Karen@workplacesuccess.com


A Day in the Life…

A Day in the Life of a Recruiter

First and foremost, there’s no such thing as a typical day. When a recruiter has different industry verticals and different types of hires (contingent labor, contracts, directs), each day presents its own battles. Here’s an idea of what a typical day looks like for a recruiter in the Greater Boston Area:

6:30 a.m.

Hit snooze for the third time, because I was up until about midnight or so answering emails from candidates. They’re trying to get somewhere else, but still need to provide, so they will be working retail or food service jobs until later on in the evening. They’re not checking their emails constantly throughout normal working hours, so I’ll answer them at night.

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7:00 a.m.

Trying to decide if I can go another day skipping the gym, because I just read an email from one of my clients that a requirement is going out and I can make 4 submissions, but have to do it by 10 today.

7:05 a.m.

Checking my database. I’m not going to the gym.

7:30 a.m.

My oatmeal tastes particularly soggy this morning. Not pleased, but I did just find two more candidates that I had forgotten about. Coffee needs to kick in, like now.

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8:00 a.m.

No, I don’t have to be in the office until 9, and yes, I live about 14 miles away, but it’s fall, a.k.a. construction season, so it’ll easily take me at least 40 minutes to get to the office with school drop offs, other commuters and the re-routing I’ll undoubtedly go through.

8:17 a.m.

Wow, they’re late today. Just got off the phone with one of my candidates while on the way in, and the candidate is trying to send me credentials and identification to complete onboarding paperwork, but doesn’t understand file extensions and media conversions. First of at least a dozen today, guaranteed.

8:32 a.m.

Swerved out of the way at the last minute for a construction vehicle that has a brake light out. Coffee, being warm, is delightful when I’m drinking it. Not so delightful when it’s trying to melt my skin off. Thank God there’s an extra shirt at the office.

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8:49 a.m.

Finally here, and just enough time to brew another cup of coffee to actually drink this time, and change my shirt.

9:00 a.m.

Caffeinated and dry, I open my emails and check my voicemails. I have 17 emails from one candidate – the same one from this morning that doesn’t understand how to make technology work. None of the 17 are usable, by the way.

9:12 a.m.

Get an automated email from one of my clients’ systems, saying 12 positions are opening up, and I have 5 days to gather and submit. Time to get to work.

10:46 a.m.

Found a good grouping of people to blast out an email about the opportunity, tailored it, and already got 3 positive responses. Cloud 9 status: achieved.

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11:02 a.m.

Just got off the phone with my technologically challenged candidate. Trying to explain why one .pdf can be different from another .pdf is pretty painstaking. If I’m to present in a vendor-neutral environment, I can’t submit a resume as-is. I need an editable one that I can copy and paste into a portal. I don’t have enough time to re-write everyone’s resumes – I’d never leave!

11:20 a.m.

I rewrote the resume. The skills are too good; I can’t just pass this candidate up.

12:00 p.m.

I’m not even hungry at this point; I just need to walk around. Maybe step outside or go down the street for a smoothie or something.

12:12 p.m.

Not even halfway through my first pull of smoothie, and a hiring manager is calling me because my candidate isn’t there for an interview.

12:19 p.m.

Just got off the phone with the candidate. Makes me wonder why with all the technology of the world, including Bluetooth in cars, why I couldn’t get a call a half hour ago saying “I’m lost, please help”. The interview will now be a half hour late, at best. Not a good impression to make.

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12:43 p.m.

Got another 2 positive responses to my blast earlier, which is awesome, but seriously where are the other three? I wrote an email back immediately asking some more penetrating questions, but I don’t have a response. Where are these people?

1:00 p.m.

Back at my desk, and realize I have a 1 o’clock call I need to make. Conference call for all suppliers on a program. I think it’s just a status update. I’ll keep mining while I’m on.

1:17 p.m.

Another positive response! That’s awesome! But now I’m at 6 positive responses, 6 emails back saying something like “that’s great, I love that you’re interested, can you tell me what you’re looking for?” and I’m no better than I was at 11.

2:35 p.m.

Just got off the phone with another candidate who has exceptional skills. He is driving me crazy though, because he has 2 decade’s worth of experience, and doesn’t understand that a 1-pager isn’t the rule, really. If he was in his mid-twenties and had a 5 page resume, I’d get it, that’d be wrong. But he’s an executive level engineer, and has over 20 years in the field. He’s upset about 3 pages. I think I had to talk him off a ledge. I also think I need a drink.

4:01 p.m.

I now have a total of 14 positive responses from my email. I have sent out a total of 14 replies. I have ONE actual conversation happening. Seriously – where did you all go?

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4:18 p.m.

Spoke with my candidate that was late to her interview. She thinks it went great, and she really wants this opportunity. I sympathize with her a little bit, because she’s in a tough spot, and could really use the ego and monetary boost. It would definitely make her life a little bit easier.

4:58 p.m.


5:04 p.m.

Heard back from the company with the interview, and the hiring manager was really cool about it. He knows, like I do, that the area can get a bit confusing, and was only redeveloped within the last 6 months, so Google Maps doesn’t always do the best job of understanding the updates. I get to tell my candidate that her life can change soon. Cloud 9 status: Regained.

5:27 p.m.

Just got off the phone with my candidate. She’s crying, and I’d be lying if that thought hadn’t at least entered my head. I feel good. She really needed this. Good day’s work, officially in the books. Time to head home.

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6:31 p.m.

That. Traffic. Was. The. Worst. Traffic. Ever.

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6:38 p.m.


7:00 p.m.

I sit down to my haphazardly thrown together dinner, but it has a protein, some veggies, and it doesn’t taste like cardboard. I’ll take it.

7:09 p.m.

Phone goes off. I see that it’s Technologically Challenged. I really fight with myself on whether or not to answer this call.

7:32 p.m.

Why did I answer that call?

8:00 p.m.

Ok – I’ll catch up on at least one of my shows on the DVR. That’ll be nice.

8:11 p.m.

Email goes off. Candidates are now responding and looking for active engagement. Now. Past 8 o’clock. I’ll respond during commercials.

10:13 p.m.

Well – I can’t delete the show off my DVR because I was too busy emailing and chatting with candidates. Time to go to bed now.

11:37 p.m.

Email goes off again. I put my phone on silent, turn on my actual alarm clock instead of using my phone, and roll over. It can get answered in 6 hours.

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11:49 p.m.

I get a thank you email from the candidate that got offered the job today. Along with it, she sends a picture of her child, who turns 7 tomorrow. Ok, now I feel better. Good night.


The point of the matter is, recruiting is a people business. You have to understand the mentality of the masses, as well as the individual. You have to have the patience of a saint, the shrewd business capability of a Wall Street broker, the IT understanding of a college-level grad, the speaking and communication skills of a SWAT negotiator, and the want to succeed and help others. At the end of the day, recruiters are in the business to make money, the same as the rest of us. However, when you truly sit down and think of how many lives can be impacted by answering a few emails, those major placements take away all the frustration of the day.

So before you get frustrated at your recruiter – think about what he/she has gone through today. They want to make life better for people, not ruin it.

Here’s to you – recruiters! You’re the real MVP’s of the staffing world.

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Staffing Trends

Are You Social?

Closing in on the last quarter of the calendar year, many organizations, staffing industry included, are reviewing how close they are to projected goals for 2017, and predicting what can be done in 2018. It is almost a given that you, reading this post right now, are probably doing the same. Well? How did you do? Do you match up?

Coming from an agency that has a superb reputation with 3 industries, and spreading the wealth within the MSP world, contracts and direct placements, it is very difficult to see whether or not goals were met, exceeded, or fell short. But why? Why is that such a difficult trend to spot?

Because the game is changing, and will continue to evolve.

Let’s start with the basics. Technology in any form will always be a top consideration factor when doing business. At the beginning of the year, Bullhorn came out with an article for staffing trends this year, and they said it best: Technology will separate the contenders from the pretenders.

It is beyond true. The social part of technology has separated and skyrocketed for the most part. There will always be an ATS, a CRM, or at the very least a spreadsheet/database somewhere within the organization that keeps things in order, but social media has thrown such a wrench into traditional staffing methods.

If you are on the social media marketing side of your business, no doubt you have seen an increase in posting about the jobs you have in-house. If you are a recruiter, you are now learning (or have already learned) the best ways, times and phrases to use on the multitudes of social media platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, SnapChat, et all. But have you heard of the names Jobvite? TextRecruit? PreferHired? These types of companies have been popping up all over the place and are gaining steam quickly because they saw that social caught on within recruiting in a big way.

Now. For the rest of the staffing world that doesn’t have that luxury of a new platform that is nice and shiny and sparkly, that doesn’t mean that we are all out of jobs soon. Quite the opposite, actually. When you consider the boom that the market took when VMS and MSP broke out on the scene, it is performing similarly. The only major difference is that with social recruiting, you are getting a lot more of the millennials. If that is your target person, then you need to be on the social recruiting bandwagon for sure. But if your network exceeds that of the millennial generation, you should be on par with your goals.

Another excellent statistic to take a look at, while measuring your goals for the end of this year, and projecting for next, is the Jobs Report. Forbes did an excellent job with breaking down the August statistics here. With the market sitting at a low, because let’s face it, 4.4% is definitely low, did you set your goals too aggressively? That is one of the most important things to consider with the industry right now.

The point of the matter is this: aggressive sales and revenue goals are fantastic. They will help you grow your company in exponential ways. But you have to consider every angle before you set those goals. Are you looking for an entry level nurse, just recently graduated from school with a BSN? You should probably check out social recruiting. Are you looking for a 15-year veteran machinist of sorts that has 2-4 safety certifications, at minimum? Social media will be lost on him/her. If your trends in your company haven’t seen any major increase or loss over the last year in all verticals served? Odds are you are doing fine, but you set an aggressive goal anyway, because who doesn’t want more money?

Be aware of the trends, but always know that your best tools to keep in the arsenal are the phone, a mind made for research, a warm smile, and a firm handshake.


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