Sales Force Health Check

Our Sales Consultancy Practice has a division specialising in recruiting Sales Professionals. Our Sales Force Health Check is designed to help Sales Directors and Sales Managers maximise sales force performance. The objective is twofold, one to ensure that problem areas are identified and solutions are put in place, and two, to work with the organisation to ensure that all avenue’s to maximise sales revenue across the business are being fully exploited.
A healthy sales force will not only meet but also exceed its sales revenue targets allowing you to meet both your personal sales objectives and your company’s business goals.

There are 6 main areas covered during the Health Check, these are as follows:

Key Areas
1) Sales Force Performance
2) Sales Objectives
3) Sales Strategy
4) Sales Personnel
5) Sales Activity
6) Sales Proposition

A typical sales force health check comprises of two half-day sessions, the first session provides an overview of your sales force and identifies any problem areas and or opportunities for development.
The second session involves delivering a report outlining the practical steps to be taken to either resolve any areas of concern, or idea’s that can be implemented to improve the business and maximise sales revenue.
The ATR Consultant delivering the Sales Force Health Check has operated at Director level and has worked in a number of Blue-chip organisations such as IBM, GKN and Siemens, she has won numerous sales awards including both “Top Salesperson” for a UK Document Management company, and a European Summit Award for IBM after winning a multi-million pound contract.

If you have any questions regarding this article or require further information about our Sales Consultancy Practice, please call us on 0844 2577 888.

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Creating Sales Targets and Commission Plans

Our Sales Targets and Commission Plan Information has been created to help you design a commission plan that will enable you to provide a strong incentive to your sales team to achieve and exceed their individual sales targets. The purpose is to ensure your business meets its sales revenue and more importantly its profit targets.  This tool can help both Sales Managers and Sales Directors to meet and exceed their sales targets.
Our Plan includes a detailed description of the following steps we would recommend that you undertake to help you in this process.

Sales Targets and Commission Plan Steps
Decide what the sales target will be
Decide what level of profit you need
Ensure that the “cost” of sale is covered
Identify cost of sales
Work out annual sales target
Work out monthly or quarterly sales target
Allow 3 month ramp up period for new sales people
Work out annual sales commission
Work out monthly or quarterly sales commission
Work out over target performance commission / bonus
Commission plan at discretion of directors clause
Other considerations

Our founder has over 20 years’ experience in sales (outside the recruitment agency sector) currently operating at Director level, she has won numerous sales awards and worked for organisations such as IBM, Siemens and GKN selling both equipment and services. She is familiar with a variety of sales commission plans and understands the reality of setting up sales targets with commission schemes that incentivise the sales teams to not only meet but exceed their sales targets.

To obtain a free copy of our Sales Targets and Commission Plan Steps process that will enable you to create a realistic set of sales targets for your team, along with a motivating commission plan, to help ensure your sales targets are met, please contact Sheila Carswell-Craig on 0844 2577 888 and she will send you the full details.

If you have any questions regarding this article or require further information about our Sales Consultancy Practice, please call us on 0844 2577 888.

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Tips to Manage Stress at Work

Stress at work has always been an issue but even more so during the recent economic climate. In our recruitment agency we often have candidates who want to move from their current roles because they are “stressed out”.

Why is it important manage stress?
Workplace stress affects the performance of the brain, including functions of work performance; memory, concentration, and learning. In the UK over 13 million working days are lost every year because of stress. Stress is believed to trigger 70% of visits to doctors, and 85% of serious illnesses (UK HSE stress statistics).
Below are just some ideas that can help to reduce stress:-

Rehydrate
Drink more water – not tea or coffee of soft drinks but actual water!.
Here’s why…
Offices and workplaces commonly have a very dry atmosphere due to air conditioning, etc., which increases people’s susceptibility to de-hydration.
The brain is strongly dependent on water to function properly, if you starve your brain of water you will function below your best and get stressed both mentally and physically. It’s how we are built.
You will drink more water if you keep some on your desk at all times – it’s human nature to drink it if it’s there – so go get some now – you should aim to drink 8 glasses of water per day.

Humour
Humour is one of the greatest and quickest devices for reducing stress.
Humour works because laughter produces helpful chemicals in the brain.
Humour also gets your brain thinking and working in a different way – it distracts you from having a stressed mind-set. Distraction is a simple effective de-stressor – it takes your thoughts away from the stress, and thereby diffuses the stressful feelings.

Brisk Walk
Go for a short quick really brisk walk outside. Yes, actually leave the building.
Change your environment. Breathe in some fresh air and smell the atmosphere…
Just getting away from the stressful situation at work and having a little bit of exercise will change your mood – it’s amazing how just a 10 minute break can make you feel so much better.

Powernap
(Not so easy but still perfectly possible) Take a quick nap. It is nature’s way of recharging and re-energising.
A quick 10-30 minutes’ sleep is very helpful to reduce stress.
At some stage conventional Western industry will ‘wake up’ to the realisation that many people derive enormous benefit from a midday nap. Sounds silly?
People in the Mediterranean and Central Americas have a longer life expectancy and lower levels of heart disease, and this is almost certainly related to the fact that they take a siesta every working day.

If you have any questions regarding this article or require further information about our Sales Consultancy Practice, please call us on 0844 2577 888.

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Posted in Company Culture, Staff Management

Creating a Working from Home Policy

Statistically one of the most sought after attractions employees are looking for from employers is having the option to work from home as this would allow them a better work/life balance and in many cases ranks higher than the importance of their salary.   Companies who are adopting a flexible approach to a job’s location are receiving a widening candidate pool to choose from when recruiting and in many cases without the need for increasing salaries to entice a new employee to join their company.  To help companies who are thinking of bringing on board a working from home policy, we have listed some issues below that you may want to consider.   When making such a policy it is imperative to pay attention to detail, because a failure to do so can have serious implications for companies.

Is this job role suitable for home working?
How many hours/days per week should the employee allocate to working from home?
Is this employee’s temperament suitable for home working?
How is the company going to monitor the performance of home based employees?
How will the employee safeguard the security of documentation they have taken home?
How does the company regain documentation/equipment from the employee when employment ceased?
What equipment and costs will be required for this employee to perform this role working from home?
What are the costs savings gained by employees working from home?
Does the company require a policy for a health and safety check on the employee’s premises?
What is the best way to word the working from home policy to safeguard the company properly?

Is this job role suitable for home working?
When a company is assessing what job roles can be performed equally as well at home compared to working in an office, the issues they may wish to consider include: Does this role involve working in a team?  Does this role involve face-to-face supervision? Does the job role require secure document storage?  Does this role involve equipment that is required on site but can only be stationed in the company’s premises?  Does this role involve the requirement for costly equipment that may be too expensive to install in the employee’s home?

How many hours/days per week should the employee allocate to working from home?
An employee’s tasks may vary during the day/week and so a company may alternate where and when the employee performs that particular function of the job role resulting in the employee working between the office and the employee’s home which could give the company and employee the benefits of both situations.

Is this employee’s temperament suitable for home working?
As we all know every employee is different but the main personality traits required of someone to work from home is that of a self-motivated and disciplined individual who will not lose focus when there is no one there to manage them.

How is the company going to monitor the performance of home based employees?
Before implementing the working from home policy it may be advisable to utilise software that can track and measure the employees work input.  If this is not an option setting up a work rule of regular updates from the employee of daily performance by contacting by email or phone should allow management the amount of control that is required.

How will the employee safeguard the security of documentation they have taken home?
Company information or documentation may have to be entrusted to employees to perform their role, as a result a company may wish to implement a policy to get the employees to sign for the release and the security of the documents released to them stating the legal implications to the loss or damage of the material under their supervision.

How does the company regain documentation/equipment from the employee when employment ceased?
Companies who are looking to start a working from home policy need to consider creating legal documentation that hold the employee accountable for the loss or damage of any equipment that is legally obliged to be returned to the company in the case of the employment ending.

What equipment and costs will be required for this employee to perform this role working from home?
Additional cost of equipment may have to be factored and provided to employees working from home to allow them to perform their duties properly (mobile phone, laptop, printer/scanner, internet connection, etc.).

What are the costs savings gained by employees working from home?
Although there will be the initial costs of setting up an employee to work from home these can sometimes be offset by the cost saving gained such as the reduction in overheads, employee travel costs, benefits including child care, lunch vouchers, etc.

Does the company require a policy for a health and safety check on the employee’s premises?
Employers have different levels of responsibility for employees working from home and as a result it may be beneficial to companies to include legal terminology in their working from home policy that would allow them to access the home of the employee to review potential hazards or risks.

What is the best way to word the working from home policy to safeguard the company properly?
Creating a well detailed working from home policy is critical as it can safeguard the company against any disagreements regarding employee’s rights.   It may be worth engaging a legal firm to check over the policy before implementation.

Summary
This can be a win / win situation because having the ability to offer candidates the flexibility to work from home will definitely increase the pool of candidates you can recruit from, it means you don’t need to have expensive office space allocated to the employee (hot desk facilities for staff who occasionally visit the office is much more cost effective) and can therefore reduce your business costs.  The candidate benefits because the flexibility to work from home generally makes them happier in the role and surprisingly often more productive as they don’t have the same distractions that come with working in an office environment, and can often focus more on the job.

If you have any questions regarding this article or require further information about our Sales Consultancy Practice, please call us on 0844 2577 888.

Posted in Uncategorized

Importance of Creating a New Employee On-boarding System

Latest figures have once again shown an employee’s average period of time staying at the one company has continued to drop and that circa 80% of all new employees decide within the first 6 months of employment if they will stay with their new employer or once again enter the job market.  This arguably has increased the level of importance of companies adopting an effective New Employee On-boarding System, in fact independent figures which have been released suggest statistically, companies who have implemented a New Employee On-boarding System have reduced employee turnover and in turn have reduced their recruitment and training costs.   We acknowledge every company is unique in their own way, but we have included below the main benefits for a company to creating a New Employee On-boarding System (NEOS).   At the end of this blog there are instructions on NEOS activities to help insure you have a robust and efficient new employee on-boarding process.

COMPANY NEOS ADVANTAGES SUMMARY
Company will increase motivation and company loyalty from new employees
Company employee retention rates increase as new employees will stay longer
Company will reduce the recruitment costs associated with new hires
Company training budget for new hires will also be reduced
Company savings will reduce bottom line costs
Company will receive an increase in overall profitability and shareholder value

COMPANY NEOS ADVANTAGES DETAILED
Outlines Company Brand and Culture to new Employee
Adopting an NEOS provides the company/department with the opportunity to outline to their new employees:-
What is it that makes an employee succeed in their organization?
What are the issues that can blindside a new hire and isolate them from their colleagues?
What processes are necessary for the new employee to know?
Who does the new employee go to and for what?
Who the Senior Management are in the organization?

Outlines Company and Department Strategy to Employee
An NEOS provides the company/department with the opportunity to give their new employee a general introduction to the organization and a chance to understand more about the company (i.e. organizational goals, important processes, general employee information, etc.).  It is at this stage each new employee should be assigned a mentor to help them with their transition in the company but it is advisable the mentor should not be the new hire’s direct supervisor but a peer who is not in competition from the new hire.

Celebrates Employees success in getting the job
There is no nicer way to welcome a new employee in to the company than to celebrate their arrival. You can do this by either having a reception in the boardroom or if appropriate going out for drinks for lunch or after work as this will give people in the organization an opportunity to get to know them. It also says very clearly that the company is happy that the new hire is now part of the organization and is an important part of their team.

Companies only get one chance to create a good first impression with Employees
There in an old saying that says first impressions last longest.  A company that adopts and implements a NEOS is saying to their new employee that they are not on their own to either succeed or fail in their new job but the organisation has created a system for them not only to succeed in their current position but will also allow them to develop their skills to further their career in the company.

New Employees generally learn and remember more at the start
There is a saying you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.  Whether this is true or not is up for debate but what has been factually proven is new employees are more likely to be more emotionally susceptible to learning and remembering.  As a result an NEOS will take advantage of the opportune time to capitalize on the new employee’s emotions and excitement and solidify their commitment to their new employer.

Introduces Employees to technical tools at their disposal
New employees should be introduced to all the technological tools that will be at their disposal to perform their tasks properly and efficiently, ranging from desktop computers to laptops to fax machines to printers to telephones to smartphones to tablets, etc. Full training should be given to the new hire when and where appropriate with assessments built again in when and where appropriate.

Reduces Employee misunderstanding of role expectations
For approximately the first 2 weeks of the new hires employment, the mentor should be setting up lunches or meetings with various staff and in if relevant clients to allow the new employee the opportunity to get to know all the people that they will be working with and the business/projects they may be active on and what is expected of them.

Decreases Employees learning curve
Companies that have adopted a NEOS and utilise the opportunity to have established employees share examples of best practices with the new employees (avoiding reinventing the wheel) successfully reduce the amount of time a new employee learns their new job and are able to perform their tasks properly and efficiently in less time in being in their job.

Builds Employee optimistic attitude towards the Company
Success breeds success.  Employees who are successful in their roles tend to be more engaged and loyal to the company.   Pick a project or task for the new employee that will work to their strength and is relevant to the reason that you hired them. This will allow the new hire to feel a part of the organization and build their internal self-confidence and additionally this will have significant impact on their engagement that will in turn want them to utilize their skills to the fullest extent possible to create more successes for themselves, their team and the company.

Engages Employee to give new ideas and builds their self-worth and confidence
NEOS should fully engage the new employee/s because new hires who feel their participation is not just welcomed but that their feedback is listened as the company seem to care about them are more likely to develop their self-worth and personal confidence which will contribute to their overall performance of their job.

Builds Employee motivation and job satisfaction
When creating a NEOS build in assessments for the new employee and implement when appropriately and share the results with the new employee.  When results are positive the assessor needs to compliment the new hire on their success.   If any of the results are not positive the assessor needs to give the new employee constructive feedback explaining where they are going wrong and the steps required to improve their standard of performance.

Builds Employees relationships with fellow Colleagues
There is no better way to building a new employee’s team spirit with their other colleagues than by interaction.   Create a relevant task for the new employee to perform with some or all their colleagues within their department to allow the new employee to create a rapport with their new colleagues.

Statistically reduces Employee turnover
NEOS statistically help create happy productive employees and happy productive rarely leave their current employment thus reducing employee turnover which has an impact on the profitability of the company’s profit margin.

Provides Company opportunities to identify Employee shortfalls and actions to take
One of the main advantages to a NEOS is that it gives the company the opportunity to assess the strengths and weaknesses a new employee has and as a result what actions may need to be taken to address any new candidates shortfalls they have before it becomes a major issue and has too much of a negative effect on the new hire or the rest of the team they work with.

Increases the Companies Candidate pool
Companies who create an NEOS soon find out this provides them with a mechanism that allows them to assess candidates who have additional skills that had never been considered before that could benefit the company thus broadening the skills range of potential candidates they could choose from.

COMPANY ON-BOARDING ACTIVITIES
Before First Day Activities
Send successful New Employee a personal welcome.
Ensure infrastructure support has been put in place for New Employee.
Prepare New Employee’s first work assignments.
Prepare “New Employee Welcome Pack”.

First Day Activities
Share the Company mission and values to the Employee.
Assign a mentor (not someone who is above them or would be competing against them).
Orient the Employee to the Company.
Explain the Company management style and preferences.
Send introduction email to Staff and introduce Employee in person to all relevant Staff.
Review Employee’s lunch breaks and leave requirements.

First Week Activities
Set Employee job scope and performance expectations.
Explain to Employee how work is routed and assigned.
Assign Employee with meaningful work.
Ensure inclusion of new Employee on email distribution lists.
Introduce Employee to key Management if relevant.

First 90 Days Activities
Provide Employee with essential training.
Monitor Employee performances and provide and obtain Employee feedback.
Assign time for periodic one-on-one Employee sessions.

First Year Activities
Provide Employee with formal and informal feedback on their performances.
Create a Development Plan for the Employee.
Recognise Employee for any positive contributions they have.

NEW EMPLOYEE ON-BOARDING SYSTEM SUMMARISED
Implementing a new employee on-boarding system (NEOS) will increase motivation and loyalty, which means improvements in staff retention rates, which in turn reduce the recruitment and training costs of new hires.  The bottom line is that the NEOS will help the company, reduce costs, save money, and produce a happier workforce.

If you have any questions regarding this article or require further information about our Sales Consultancy Practice, please call us on 0844 2577 888.

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Your Offices DO Matter When Recruiting

Interviews are a two way process and you better believe that the candidates are evaluating your company during the interview and deciding whether or not they want to work there. If you don’t have a good working environment you could be losing out on the best candidates.  So here are a few things to think about:-

Office Furniture
Your office building and its contents are a reflection of your business and nothing will put potential employees off like old outdated office furniture and dilapidated rundown buildings.  Aesthetically pleasing large desks with good storage space and comfortable ergonomic adjustable chairs will have a really positive impact.  In fact studies show that employees are happier and more productive in a nice environment.

Lighting
A huge turnoff for potential employees is walking into a workplace filled with blinding fluorescent lights.  Fluorescent light increases anxiety levels and causes migraines in many individuals, Incandescent light bulbs are much easier on the eyes, so wherever possible let in natural light and introduce floor and desk lamps into the office.

Plants
Adding plants to the workplace is a great way to bring a little bit of the outdoors into the office.  Whether it’s a fern here and there or fresh flowers to welcome your current and prospective employees, a little green really does go a long way.
In addition to the beautifying qualities that greenery adds to the office, the oxygenating abilities of plant leaves are known to naturally reduce stress, increase positive feelings, relieve anxiety, and lower blood pressure.

Lunch Room
Often companies will give prospective employees a tour of the building, so you need to ensure that if you show them the lunch room or the break out area, that it is an appealing place where the candidates could imagine taking a break or having lunch.  A comfortable environment with good snack and drink options and an inviting ambiance, and comfortable seating, will help give the candidate a good feeling about your business, and make them feel that this will be a great place to work.

Motivational Pictures
Motivational pictures add colour and variety and have positive messages that can inspire your staff; they also break up the monotony of plain walls. These can be purchased at a low cost and can be colour co-ordinated to match your office furnishings.  Making an effort with your work environment will really help you attract candidates to your business, as well as helping you to retain the staff you already employ.

If you have any questions regarding this article or require further information about our Sales Consultancy Practice, please call us on 0844 2577 888.

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Top 25 General Interview Questions to Ask

Below is a list of the most common interview questions asked by Hiring Managers or HR Professionals at an interview.  These can be very helpful when you are new to interviewing or if you want to ask a range of questions that will ensure you gain an excellent understanding of the candidate’s ability to succeed in your business.
Additionally, we believe that if you score the candidates out of 10 for each question you ask, it means that at the end of the process you can add up all the scores to see which of the candidates came out on top.  This can be a helpful guide when making a hiring decision and means you are not having to rely on just your memory.

Tell me about yourself?
Advice:-This is usually the first question an interviewer will ask a candidate This question is sometimes used to put a candidate at ease but also to get an overall feeling about the candidate.  This same question can also lead the interviewer to ask other relevant questions regarding the candidate that they may not have previously thought of further enabling the interviewer to assess the suitability of the candidate for the role.

What are you passionate about?
Advice:-The answer the candidate gives the interviewer allows the interviewer to know if the candidate has interests that could this enable the candidate to perform the role well or could have an adverse effect in their performance. i.e. commitments that would not allow them to do overtime if required or physical sports that could result in injury that could keep them off work for weeks/months.

Tell me about something that’s not on your CV/Resume?
Advice:-This is a good question for the interviewer to ask the candidate to uncover a more comprehensive picture of the candidate’s background. The candidates CV/Resume states the facts, but the interviewer should want to know about the person behind the work history to determine whether they are a good match for the job and the organization.

What were your responsibilities?
Advice:-This will allow the interviewer to find out if the candidate has the knowledge, understanding and experience necessary to do their job well.

Describe a difficult work situation / project and how you overcame it?
Advice:-By getting a candidate to give an example and explain how they handled a difficult situation at work allows the interviewer to know if the candidate has the tactical and diplomatic skills to perform the job role well.

What is your greatest strength?
Advice:-This allows the interviewer to gauge if the candidate has the attributes that will qualify them for the specific job.

What is your greatest weakness?
Advice:-This question can sometimes catch a candidate off guard and can allow the interviewer to find a shortage of skills in the candidate that may hinder them from doing the job properly and help them decide on future training for the candidate if they got the job.  This is also a great question to see how a candidate reacts under the pressure of an interview.

How do you handle stress and pressure?
Advice:-Stress is a common situation at work and people can react negatively under stress and pressure. Asking this question and other questions such as “what was the most stressful situation you have encountered at work and how did you handle it?”.  This will help you understand whether or not the candidate could cope with the pressure and /or stress associated with your role.

What was your biggest failure in this position?
Advice:-Interviewers asking this question can not only find out what strengths a candidate has but also the level of expectations the candidate has in themselves and the role.

What was your biggest accomplishment in this position?
Advice:-Interviewers asking this question can not only find out what strengths a candidate has but also the level of expectations the candidate has in themselves and the role.

How do you evaluate success?
Advice:-This gives the interviewer a sense of the candidate’s work ethic, goals, and overall personality.

What did you like or dislike about your previous job?
Advice:-The interviewer will be able to gain insight into the candidate’s mind-set, which may provide information about the candidate’s ability to fit into their company culture and help the interviewer decide if this candidate is likely to succeed in their organisation.

Do you prefer to work independently or on a team?
Advice:-From this question an interviewer is trying to understand from the candidate if they are a team player or someone that prefers to work on their own or if the candidate is more flexible and would do either depending upon the task at hand.  If your job requires a team player then someone who prefers to operate independently may not be ideal for your position.

How do you relate to your supervisors and co-workers?
Advice:-This question asked by the interviewer can determine if the candidate can successfully work as part of a team especially when working to deadlines or is able to successfully overcome any issue that require solving.

Who was your best boss and who was the worst?
Advice:-This is a great question to ask if you are considering the candidate for a leadership position, The answer to the “great boss” question is likely to show you the values the candidate would be likely to portray, and this can be used to help you make a decision about the candidates management style.

What strategies would you use to motivate your team?
Advice:-This is a question that is asked by the interviewer to understand how well the candidate will perform on a daily basis managing his new team and if they understand that different approaches work for different personality types.   It’s always a good idea to ask the candidate to give some examples of ways they have successfully motivated staff in their previous roles and the outcomes it achieved.

Describe how you managed a problem employee?
Advice:-The interviewer is asking this question to find out if the candidate is able to demonstrate that they are capable of bringing out the best in marginal performers.

Why are you leaving or have left your job?
Advice:-This can allow the interviewer to recognise if the candidate was successful and has the cultural fit to join their company.

What are your goals for the future?
Advice:-Interviewers asking this question should be able to assess if the candidate being interviewed is worth the investment or if the candidate is likely to move on to another job the moment another job comes up that fits their stated goals and aspirations.

What do you know about this company?
Advice:-An interviewer is asking this question of the candidate to find out if the candidate has prepared themselves by carrying out the necessary research of their company and this answer will give them a good insight into how much preparation they made before the interview and therefore how committed they may be to actually joining your company.

How would you adjust to working for a new company?
Advice:-Interviewers asking this question and discussing this scenario will be using the candidates answer to assess their adaptability to adjust to new situations and the demands that working in a new job and for a different company can bring.

Why do you want this job?
Advice:-This question demonstrates if the candidate has taken the time to research the job and the company giving a guide to how serious they are about working for your organisation. Crucially it will help you understand the candidate’s motivations and access whether your organisation can match the candidates hopes and expectations.

Why should we hire you?
Advice:-This will help you understand if the candidate has all the right attributes to make them the best fit for the position.

What were your starting and final levels of compensation?
Advice:-Apart from allowing the interviewer to know what package may be acceptable by the candidate if offered the job (compensation packages can vary with similar jobs within the same sector i.e. basic and OTE).  This also allows the interviewer to find out if there are any discrepancies on the CV and if the candidate is truthful.

What are your salary/remuneration requirements?
Advice:-This provides you with the details as to what package is required so that if you wish to make an offer to the candidate, you can structure it to ensure that it will be accepted.

If you have any questions regarding this article or require further information about our Sales Consultancy Practice, please call us on 0844 2577 888.

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