Friday, May 27, 2011

Sales success traits

Like the holy grail, interviewers are always looking for the characteristics in a candidate that will tell if the person can sell. Two that I particularly look for are 1) Social monitoring and 2) Control.

Social monitoring is much like empathy. It means the person has a good radar for how others are feeling and acting. When done well, it fits the definition of emotional intelligence. But for sales people, it primarily means that the seller is noticing his/her impact on the prospect and can make adjustments as needed. In NLP terms, it is the ability to take a 2nd position and see the interaction through the prospect's eyes by noticing what the person is doing or saying.

Control is seen in two ways. First, the individual tries to control the interview, whether it is with you or with a customer. Conversations are forced back on track and toward the seller's purpose. Second, once an order is received, the seller controls the process inside. He/she rides that order and sees that people process it quickly and accurately. Often, the seller is seen as an irritant by inside people due to this control, but most good sellers show this trait.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Employee Engagement

"Employee engagement" is a popular buzz word lately that I keep seeing in articles and blogs. It refers to how committed individuals are to the their work and organization. Researchers have often shown that engagement is related to productivity and quality of work. As a result, there is a big push for organizations to measure group engagement and seek to increase it through a variety of actions.

I think this is misguided advice.

I suggest that "engagement" stems from individual passion and optimism and drive. These come from within an individual. Yes, an organization can encourage engagement by having opportunities for individual involvement and decision-making. It can fuel and focus existing passion; it can reward performance. But I seriously doubt any company can create engagement and work-related passion within any individual.

I suggest, instead, that passion, optimism, work engagement or drive must be assessed in the hiring process. Listen for it in what the candidates say about past jobs. Engagement is something the candidate brings to the job. It is not something the job should be expected to give to the candidate.

What is the person's passion? Purpose? What is important to this person? Does this person truly believe that problems can be solved and setbacks are external and temporary? Is there a history of achievement? How has the person worked in the past? Was there passion and a sense of accomplishment, regardless of how menial or narrowly-defined the actual job might have been? What was the individual able to add to the job (rather than vice-versa)?

The right person will feel engaged at any job, at least for a while, whether working as a short-order cook, a bundler in a box factory, or a pizza delivery driver. Someone who has passion for work will find a way to feel engaged in whatever he or she is doing. That is the kind of person you want in any job. Engagement--hire it; do not try to create it.

Duane Lakin, Ph.D.

Consulting Psychologist