Why I Didn’t Hire You

I’m an easy interview, but a tough judge. I don’t use personality or behavioral tests – I’ve tried them all, and I do see some value there, but I’ve also relied on them for hiring decisions, which I later came to regret.

I don’t call your references. It’s a waste of my time and theirs. You’d never give me a reference that would say anything other than the most amazing and wonderful things about you anyway.Why I Didn't Hire You

I do call your customers. I can count on them to tell me what I need to know about you.

I ask you unique and powerful questions that give me an understanding of your thought process and your philosophies.

I give you a tour of our offices, and I introduce you to everyone. How you engage and interact with my people means everything to me.

I give you every opportunity to ask me smart questions and to uncover how you can help us the most.

I laugh a lot and I have fun. I expect you to do the same.

I make quick decisions.

If I like you and I think you’ll win here, I’ll call you quickly and I’ll set up a time for you to come in and shadow some of my people for a few hours. I want you to see what it’s like here from the inside out. I want you to meet people and to decide for yourself if you’re a good fit.

If I don’t ask you to come back, I won’t send you a letter.

I just won’t call. Sorry in advance if that frustrates you.

Perhaps you would have appreciated the letter below, as this is the letter I’ve always wanted to send to applicants who I did not hire:

Dear Applicant,

If you are reading this letter it is because I have decided against hiring you. You deserve to know the truth. You deserve to know so that you can:
a. Stop wondering if I’m ever going to call you back.
b. Focus on your other opportunities.
c. Improve yourself before your next interview.

Basically, I didn’t hire you because some or all of the following are true:
• You dressed poorly.
• You came late.
• You showed up empty-handed.
• You didn’t send me a follow-up note or email.
• You didn’t fit in or you didn’t stand out.
• You didn’t take notes.
• You were rude or aloof with my people.
• You failed to bring me an idea or a question that demonstrated you were prepared for the interview in terms of me.
• You asked me about vacation time, holiday pay, or other cushy benefits way too early in the process.
• You have never visited my company website, Facebook page, or YouTube channel.
• You spent $500 creating your resume, you can recite your accomplishments line-for-line, but can’t tell me one thing you learned during your previous employment.
• You said or did something that made me question your honesty, your integrity, or your character.
• You do not have a single ounce of Google-juice.
• Your Facebook account is full of hundreds of pictures of you drinking beer, smoking dope, and wearing nothing but a jock strap.
• You told me, quite emphatically, that you left your last three jobs because your boss was an idiot, the people you worked with had the worst attitudes, and/or because you were treated unfairly.
• I asked you about the last business book you read and you couldn’t remember the name.
• You did not ask me a single question.
• You reeked of “what’s in it for me?” rather than “how can we win together?”

Don’t feel bad. That’s not my intention. You’re going to be a big success. You’ll just need to be successful somewhere else.

It’s possible, though unlikely, that I am wrong about you. You may be the best thing for our business. You may be the answer to all of our prayers.

If you are, and you believe in your heart that you can help us and that you will be fulfilled and happy doing so, then prove me wrong.

Show me the real you, and I’ll show you a real opportunity.


13 Ways to Overcome the Stigma of Sales

In a recent article, I shared insight into the stigma of sales. I gave a grim overview of how salespeople are perceived by their prospects and customers. I hinted at how you can succeed despite and in spite of the negative reputation salespeople have earned themselves. And, I promised that I would give you a few ideas about how to overcome the odds and put yourself on a path toward sales success by becoming perceived as anything but a salesperson. I make good on my promise below:

The goal is to transform your prospect or customer’s perception of you from salesperson to:
▪ Value Provider
▪ Assistant Buyer
▪ Valuable Resource
▪ Customer Advocate
▪ Idea Generator
▪ Trusted Advisor

Those are just a few of the titles you must aspire to earn. Pay attention to the word earn. You can put whatever you want on your business card, but what really matters is how your prospects and customers think of you. If you put down that you’re a “Value Provider” and they think of you as “Slimy Salesguy,” well…you lose.

Here’s how to earn the respect, the trust, and the sale:

1. Start out by changing your philosophy. It’s not, “How do I sell as much of my stuff as possible?” It’s, “How does my prospect win by buying and using my stuff?”

2. Never try to sell something that you would not buy yourself were you in a similar position as your prospect.

3. Bring a new idea (or three) to your first meeting. Yep, your first meeting. Show up prepared. The idea has to be something of value – something your prospect can use to become more profitable, more efficient, or more secure. Don’t worry about whether your idea is connected in any way to your product or service. Focus on connecting the idea to their business.

4. Do not ask anything about fishing or hunting or “how they’re doing” until after you’ve shown some value. You think you’re qualifying your prospect during your initial meeting or phone call – when in reality, they’re qualifying you.

5. Ask great questions. Don’t be winging it. Show up with a list of 10 great questions that get your prospect talking and thinking.

6. Come to your prospect by way of referrals from their peers. A great recommendation changes the game to your favor before you walk in the door.

7. Bring them a referral. If you show up with a new prospect for your prospect, they’ll take your meeting. And, they’ll “owe you one.” Not every prospect will repay you, but most will. The more you can connect your customers to one another (unless, of course, they happen to be direct competitors), the more business you will earn for yourself.

8. Offer to work in their business for day. Tell them that before you make a decision about whether your product or service can help them, you’d first like to fully understand what they do, how they do it, and why. Spend a day in their shoes and they’ll spend their money with you.

9. Leave your brochures and PowerPoint presentation behind. Make the first interaction all about them. Tell them you’ll give them the full dog and pony show by their request only. Don’t be surprised if they never ask.

10. Be prepared to walk away. Sometimes during a meeting or a phone call, you’ll realize that you’re not the best fit for your prospect. Walk away. Fast. Tell them you do not think that you can help them but you’ll be back one day if and when their needs (or your service offerings) change. You will earn their respect and, perhaps, their future business.

11. Read everything you can about your prospect – their company, their industry, their competitors, their announcements, their social media posts, etc. – and send your prospect “clippings” of the most relevant and insightful pieces. Add your own comments when appropriate.

12. Follow-up and follow-through. Do what you say you’re going to do…when you say you’re going to do it. Send them a cool gift (gifts are “cool” because of their thoughtfulness and their usefulness – not because you spent $50 on them). Hint: relevant business books that provide ideas and answers to your prospect’s most burning questions are the best possible gifts. Inscribe them with a personal note. Even if your prospect never reads the book, they’ll put it on their bookshelf and they’ll always know where it came from. If they do read the book – you’ll have something to talk about (at great length) next time.

13. Read a few books yourself. You’ll find more ideas and inspiration than you’ve ever dreamed of. While you’re reading, ask “How can I adapt this to my business? How can I use this in my situation? And…why the heck didn’t I read more books before!?!

Note: Your mileage may vary. Not every strategy will work for you. Pick a few that fit you well and get to work.

Note well: The first sale you have to make is to yourself. If you think of yourself as “just as salesperson,” your prospect will do the same. Make a list of everything that you actually do for your customers. Things that you do for them (rather than yourself), on their behalf, and for their benefit. The longer that list is, the easier it will be to prove to yourself (and, eventually, your prospect) that you belong in a different kind of category. The kind of category that deserves and earns the business.

The Stigma of Sales

There are two kinds of people in the world – cat people and dog people. Wait, no. That’s not the point of this article.

There are two other kinds of people in the world – people who love sales and people who hate sales. And, then, there are those who hate salespeople and those who love salespeople. From my own experience, I have found that there are far more Americans who detest salespeople than there are those who love (or even like) salespeople.

You’ve heard all the jokes. “How do you know a salesman is lying? His lips are moving.”

The reason why it’s funny is because it’s true. Salespeople for centuries have given themselves a bad name. Which means, they’ve given you a bad name.

But don’t just take my word for it. Recently, I conducted a survey on Facebook and Twitter with a single question:

 “What one thing do you DISLIKE most about salespeople?”

Here are a few of the nearly 100 responses I received:

  • “They tend to lie…if they don’t outright lie…they can be very misleading.”
  • “The fact that they’re salespeople!! Should be more focused on their clients needs verses their pocket!!”
  • “Focused on their own selfish needs.”
  • “Their utter phoniness.”
  • “The fact that too many of them act like a 20 year-old in Vegas looking for nothing more than a one night stand.”
  • “They don’t listen.”
  • “Telling me what I want to buy and what I need instead of asking me what I am looking for and what my needs are.”
  • “They make assumptions about what I want.”
  • “That they are all liars!”
  • “They’re too pushy!”
  • “You can never find them after the sale is final…unless it’s for another sale.”
  • “Halitosis.”
  • “Transferring call to another person or department to fix a mistake they made, since it is no longer a ‘Sales Call.’”
  • “They are fake and call you ‘partner.’”
  • “Funny you should ask the day I found out a car salesman lied to me – more than once. My answer: Lie.”
  • “The ones that simply tell me they’ll save me money. Those types have no plan for a working relationship.”
  • “They start every call with ‘How are you doing today?’ but they don’t really want to know. They just want me to buy something.”

Hurts, doesn’t it? So, what’s the cure?

You have to create a name (and a title) for yourself. You have to create a perception for yourself.

You’ve got to do whatever it takes to put yourself in a different category. You have to work hard to create perceived value in the mind of the customer or the prospect so that they think of you as anything but a salesperson.

Be a value-provider, not a salesperson. Be a resource, not a salesperson. Be a friend, not a salesperson. Be an assistant-buyer, not a salesperson. Be a customer-advocate, not a salesperson. Be an idea-generator, not a salesperson. Be a trusted-advisor, not a salesperson.

Become perceived as ANYTHING but a salesperson, and you’ll put yourself on a path toward sales success.

Labor Day Marks the Beginning of the End (or, perhaps, it’s just a beginning)

Labor Day Parade, Union Square, New York, 1882...

Image via Wikipedia

It’s the end of summer.

It’s the beginning of the school year.

The pool is now closed.

Better store your white clothes until next year.

Whatever you interpret Labor Day as (including, even, as it was originally intended as a day of rest commemorating organized labor), I’m challenging you to consider the following:

  1. There are less than four months remaining this year.
  2. Odds are, you’ve got considerable work to do.
  3. Odds also are, you’ve been slacking off a bit lately.
  4. You may be behind your sales quotas, your software development, your marketing benchmarks, or your blog posts (even I’m guilty of that one).

Now is the time to buckle down. To redouble your efforts. To regain focus and commitment. Ask yourself:

What have you overlooked?

What have you pushed aside?

What projects have you not yet started?

What projects have you not yet finished?

Who have you ignored?

How many emails have you not yet responded to?

Which customers should you have already visited?

Which articles should you have written?

What about that book you’re supposed to have read?

What sales calls have you avoided?


Spend your Labor Day relaxing with family and friends. Eat a hot dog or a hamburger or a brat or all three.

Then come ready to work on Tuesday. We’re all counting on you.

The Other Side of Approachbility (inspired by Scott Ginsberg)

Thanks to my friend, Scott Ginsberg (aka “The Nametag Guy”), for inspiring this post. You’ll be thanking him, too, in a moment but first a little background:

I have dedicated much of my professional life to studying, practicing, refining, and mastering the art of “the approach” – the actual outreach, the ice-breaker, the first call, the handshake, whatever the first point of contact with a prospect or new connection may be. The approach is the single most important part of the sale; for how you open determines how (and whether) you’ll close.

A great approach engages your prospect and earns interest. It presents you as a person of value and one worthy of your prospect’s time. A great approach requires preparation, practice, and personalization. The best approach positions you as a resource, trusted advisor, and value provider.

Most salespeople – and most people for that matter – struggle with the approach more than any other step of the process. Maybe you do, too. How many leads do you have on your desk that you’ve not called?

How many times have you been at a networking function where you stood by the bar talking to the few people you already knew instead of working the room?

How many times have you attended a trade show, conference, or industry event, stood within a few feet of the one prospect or industry leader who you’ve always dreamed of meeting and connecting with and then simply decided to “wait until there’s a better time” to say something?

I am very good at meeting people. I talk to everyone. I make new contacts (and often, connections) on airplanes, in lines, at hotels, at the pool, at my daughters’ games and performances, in bars and restaurants, at trade shows and conferences, in the hallway, on the elevator, in a box, with a fox, in a house, with a mouse (that’s a little Dr. Seuss reference for those of you who missed it). The point is – I never miss an opportunity to approach others.

Thanks to Scott Ginsberg I learned this week that I do, however, miss the opportunity to allow others to approach me.

Scott is known as “The Nametag Guy” because he has worn a “Hello, My Name is” nametag every single day for over ten years. He fits in well at networking events and stands outeverywhere else. Scott and I attended BlogWorld in NYC and, in true Scott form, Scott wore a giant nametag everywhere he went. Correction, Scott wore this giant nametag everywhere we went. Yes, he wore it at the exhibit hall. Yes, he wore it at the networking receptions. Yes, he wore it in taxis, at the hotel, in the elevator, and while walking thirty city blocks two nights in a row.

Sounds crazy, right? I thought it did, too. I imagined I would be embarrassed or annoyed or simply amused. I never thought I would be inspired. In fact, at one point I found myself feeling a bit jealous…after watching what happened to Scott as a result of wearing that big nametag – I wanted one, too!

Scott Ginsberg, aka "The Nametag Guy," ready for a night out at BlogWorld

I’m not suggesting that you wear a nametag the size of a sandwich board, but I am suggesting that you consider your approachability factor. How are you perceived? What could you wear or say or do that would make you as approachable as Scott?

The key is to find something personal to you, and to wear or display it prominently. Suddenly you’ll find your “conversation starter” doing just that – people (think, prospects) will approach you.

I realized the other night that connecting has two variables, similar to weight loss. If you’ve ever heard, “Calories in minus calories out” you know what I mean. The fastest way to achieve a weight loss goal is to focus on both calorie intake and calorie burning.

In business, your success is directly tied to your ability to meet and connect with as many people as possible.  Thanks to Scott’s inspiration, I’ve developed a new formula for connecting:

Your Approach + Your ApproachaBility = Likelihood of Connecting


A + B = C

Your ability to connect with others is no longer dependent on your outbound approach only.

And they said you’d never use algebra again.

Now it’s your turn: What do you use to (or how do you) make yourself approachable?

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