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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.

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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.

TWO ACTUAL CONVERSATIONS #dying

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.

THREE ACTUAL CONVERSATIONS. #hallelujah

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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