Now’s the time to pick up some great executive talent!

I’m often asked from my clients, “How’s the candidate market?  Is their some good talent out there at the moment?”  Well the market for employers seeking talented executives is very interesting right now.

The past two years have seen many companies let go of top performers indiscriminately due to CFO’s being given the reins who have focussed on cost cutting in order to enable companies to either survive or maintain a profit.  In the recovery, CEO’s are taking back the reins and looking for growth opportunity.  But where has this left Australia’s top performing executives?

Displaced; “I’ve taken this job that I’m overqualified for.  It’s beneath me, but I needed to pay the bills.”

Dissatisfied; “I’ve had to take this job because I was made redundant in my last job and there wasn’t anything else available at the time.  It doesn’t suit me; I just took it because it was a job.” 

Underappreciated; “Gee, I’ve battled through this GFC, I’ve been asked to deliver the impossible, I’ve been threatened with my job, I’ve delivered and survived!  Phew…  Has anyone recognised any of this?”

Looking backwards; “This place has lost the positive culture it once had.  It will never be the same; a shadow of its former self.  And all my mates are gone.  Not sure I like this place anymore.”

Lacking direction; “All of the middle management has been culled over the past two years.  This place has no direction anymore.”

Exhausted; “Gee I’ve done it hard over the past two years.  I’m spent and over it.  Time for something new to recharge my batteries.” 

Free Interview Coaching DowloadMany of these people have felt this way for some time, but have held onto their positions out of fear, concluding: “Elsewhere is not likely to be any better. Any new job may not be secure with the current market conditions.”  So they’ve reluctantly held on to what they’ve got for now.  Many of these executives are now experiencing the effect of the recovery, feeling that perhaps now is a better time to look for that next career opportunity.

The Minefield

Two years ago, if someone had a ratio of one job per year in recent times, they were almost instantly dismissed by discerning employers and recruiters, concluding that these people have been pushed out of their positions due to underperformance or just don’t stick around in jobs for longer than a year.  Many of these professionals have continued to job hop throughout the GFC and by virtue of their nature, they are sending you their CV right now.  But the GFC has spawned a new breed of job hopping executives.  Those that were once stable in their career have found themselves with two or three jobs on their CV in the space of two years.  This is due to people being placed in difficult and sometimes hemorrhaging environments and often unsustainable positions where professionals are either highly unsatisfied and leave, or they become the victim of another round of job cuts as the GFC deepened it’s bite on corporate Australia.

So today, as employers and recruiters sift through CV’s, where they once could dismiss the job hopper as… a job hopper, today’s candidate market has changed and the waters have become murky.  Closer attention needs to be given to the ‘job hoppers’, as this is where the gold may lie.  This is where things can get dangerous, as employers and recruiters need to distinguish the inherent job hopper from the displaced, highly capable executive.  Get it wrong and you’re left replacing the candidate a year in; a very costly mistake.

So, is now a good time to be hiring from a ‘talent availability’ perspective?  Absolutely it is.  However a keen eye for talent is required and a willingness to investigate where you may have previously dismissed.  What’s more essential is an ability to question your long-list in a way that enables you to distinguish the rare talent from the rest.  A CV without further investigation in 2012 will tell you far less than it did in 2008.

Now is the time to seize the opportunity to pick up some great talent!

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Steve Ludlow – “Surprisingly, the single most common reason has very little to do with a person’s inability to sell.”

When taking a job brief with a new client, I make it my business to understand theirs. As part of the brief, I have always asked, “When you think about sales people that have come and gone within your organisation, what is the most common reason why a sales person fails to meet expectation?”

Surprisingly, the single most common reason has very little to do with a person’s inability to sell. A large majority of the time, it’s a lack of discipline that brings sales people undone. What do I mean by discipline? An ability to follow and stick to a process when it comes to building and maintaining a sufficient pipeline of opportunities. It’s a simple case of; it doesn’t matter how greater sales person you are if you’re not selling to enough prospects.

We’ve all heard this from our sales managers and mentors in the past, especially early in our careers when we started in a more ‘transactional’ sales environment. Now that we are working in a strategic sales setting, with drawn out sales cycles, large deal sizes in a complex decision making process where multiple stakeholders need to be won over in order to get the deal across the line, how do you ensure you’re building enough volume in your pipeline whilst managing quality relationships throughout? I believe the answer is in time management and goal setting.

A few tips I’ve learnt from quizzing many sales directors on what they’ve seen from successful people:

1. Crunch your numbers when planning your territory.

• Work out how many deals it’s going to take to get to budget for the quarter?
• What’s your hit-rate of quality presentations, to deals won?
• How many new and / or existing client presentations does that mean you need to make in the quarter? Break it down to weekly targets. How much activity do you need to do in order to gain those appointments? It’s back to the things we learned early in our career on this one, and it’s what many senior sales people lose sight of.

2. Plan your time.

Set aside what I’ve known some sales people to call ‘Sacred BD Hours’. This time is set aside in your diary and nothing else should impede on this time. You’ve planned that this many hours will get you the result; if you don’t spend the time, the outcome is almost inevitable.

3. Don’t make excuses for not having the time.

You’re only making excuses for what will be your failure.

4. Don’t procrastinate; just do it.

This is why the ‘Sacred BD Hours’ should not be moved, rescheduled or put aside. Most of the time, it’s simple procrastination that will hold you back.

Obviously you could write a book as many have on what makes a successful sales person. This is just one thing that when good sales people don’t keep an eye on it, failure can sneak up on them. I’ve found that it’s often not the best sales person that is the ‘top performer’ in a team. It’s often a ‘good’ sales person who is motivated and disciplined with their time that tops the team.

I’m keen to hear from sales directors, and sales people alike; what do you do to stay on top of this in your role?

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