Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Make Sure You Do Not Ask Inappropriate Interview Questions at Interview



Although an Employers’ aim is to gain important information during an interview, some questions can be inappropriate and even illegal. 

Although in our experience most illegal questions are asked through ignorance they can still cause embarrassment or have significant legal implications. 

There are four kinds of unlawful discrimination – direct, indirect, victimisation and harassment – and, in this article I want to focus on the first two of these - direct discrimination and indirect discrimination.

Direct discrimination is a lot more obvious and is always illegal. 

However, indirect discrimination can be a lot more subtle and illegal interview questions with underlying discriminatory suggestions can often be asked quite innocently.  Some examples of this could be things like “What did your parents do for a living?”, “How many sick days did you take last year?” or "How far is your commute?"

Whilst not an exhaustive list of every illegal interview question you may find it useful to follow this link for some further examples of questions that Employers are not allowed to ask - http://www.aaronwallis.co.uk/questions-employers-are-not-allowed-to-ask.aspx
 
To conclude and to lessen the risk of asking inappropriate or illegal questions, we recommend that companies adopt a formal interview form that has been checked by a HR expert and to use this as the outline for interviewing across all levels.  


Written by Liam Oakes
Liam is the Office Manager at Aaron Wallis and has been with the company for 3 years after having a career with the RAF; Liam has helped hundreds of Sales Professionals secure a new Sales role and ensures that Aaron Wallis runs smoothly.

 

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Why James Bond Would Make a Great Sales Professional



Having recently watched James Bond’s SkyFall (again) it got me thinking how James Bond would make a great sales professional, his confidence, professionalism and ability to get the job done under any circumstance could make him a great Field Salesman.


Bond would have a licence to sell and here’s why he would be the best in his field:


Preparation – He is prepared for any occasion, each mission planned from the very beginning. He always has a Plan B in case things don’t go his way and would use this same preparation with every sales meeting, knowing how he was going to close before he stepped foot in the door but have a contingency plan in place for any given moment.


Looks the Part – Bond takes pride in his appearance, his dress is immaculate no matter the occasion. He would be the sharpest dressed person in the room and would instantly impress a potential client. It’s always a good start to a meeting when you walk in with a fresh pressed suit on; it instils a winning mentality and confidence. 


Confident – Bond always remains calm and confident until victory no matter what obstacles are put in his way and always gets the girl no matter how much they try to resist. Whether it be what he is wearing or how he approaches women, Bond’s confidence would come across in any sales meeting and each client would be putty in his hands.


Prepared to take risks – Life is a balance of taking risks and being cautious but Bond takes more risks than most. He makes his own luck by taking calculated risks, he doesn’t worry about rejection and he steps out of his comfort zone but often comes out on top. As they say nothing ventured, nothing gained. Bond makes his own luck.


Ahead of the curve – Bond always has the best gadgets, whether it is an exploding pen or a laser cutting wrist watch he is always ahead of the curve. As a sales professional Bond would no doubt have the latest I-Pad and smartphone ready for any sales meeting or reacting to social media.


A Winner – Bond has a winning mentality and never settles for second best, he always comes out on top. He would be the example to follow within any sales team and would be an inspirational figure ready to close any deal on the front line.


Written by Liam Oakes
Liam is the Office Manager at Aaron Wallis and has been with the company for 3 years after having a career with the RAF; Liam has helped hundreds of Sales Professionals secure a new Sales role and ensures that Aaron Wallis runs smoothly.

 

Friday, 21 February 2014

My Dream Premiership Sales Team


I was in the process of making a couple of changes to my Fantasy Football Team the other day and it made me wonder what players would make the best possible sales team.
So, I think it’s only fair that I am the Chairman and the first thing required is to find the best Managing Director to manage my company.
Managing Director/Manager (Brendan Rodgers) – To have an excellent sales force I need an excellent manager. An excellent manager will inspire the rest of the team to be better. He may inherit average salespeople, but over time will nurture, develop and motivate until the entire team is excellent. Brendan has proved in the 2 years he has spent at Liverpool that he has the skills required in an MD, his subtle and successful man management of Luis Suarez, his expert coaching of Jordan Henderson and his nurturing of young talent the likes of Raheem Sterling.
Finance Manager/Goalkeeper (Peter Cech) – I want to know I’m in safe hands when it comes to company finances and by having the ever reliable Chelsea keeper as my Finance Manager I am confident I can let him get on with the job.
HR Manager/Centre Back (Per Mertesacker (VC)) – My HR Manager needs to be a team player, supportive, highly organized and able to communicate effectively. Per has all these skills in abundance. He came close to taking the captains armband but a strong vice-captain he is likely to be.
Sales & Marketing Director/Centre Back (Vincent Kompany ©) – I need my Sales& Marketing Manager to lead my team, he needs to identify opportunities and develop tactics and be able to take the tough decisions when necessary and as Captain of my team Vincent Kompany is the perfect man for the job.
Sales Administrator/Right Back (Seamus Coleman) – A good Sales Administrator will be able to support the Sales Manager and provide assistance to members of the sales team. Coleman shows a constant desire to get forward and support the attack week in week out which lands him the right back slot.
Sales Manager/Midfield Playmaker (David Silva) – My Sales Manager is my key player, the vital minority that produces more than the rest of my sales force, he has the natural talent and flair to get results, Silva oozes class and would raise the games of all around him.
Northern Regional Manager/Centre Midfield (Steven Gerrard) – A strong link between my Sales Director and my field sales team keeping things ticking over. Gerrard has a wealth of experience in the field and can drive the performance and growth of the team.
Southern Regional Manager/Centre Midfield (Yaya Toure) – Another very influential figure within my sales team, Toure is a winner and a charismatic leader in the field and can drive his subordinates forward.
Business Development Manager/Striker (Luis Suarez) – My top performer delivering consistent results well above target, Suarez puts in the extra hours to make things happen and would be a key player within my sales team.
Field Sales Rep/Right Wing Forward (Mesut Ozil) – The primary focus for my Field Sales Reps is to be able to find and create new opportunities and build on current success, Ozil has proven throughout his career he can find the gaps and create chances to close the deal.
Field Sales Rep/Left Wing Forward (Eden Hazard) – I want my Field Sales Reps to be above average with the right attitude and aspirations to be the best, Hazard is all of this and more. He has the skills and attributes to progress far is a future Sales Manager.
Graduate Internal Account Manager/Left Back (Luke Shaw) – The youngster within my team, still learning about the company but showing great potential Shaw is already showing a maturity beyond his years and I see him going through the ranks within the business and becoming a key player.
So here’s my line up as a football team:

Manager –Brendan Rodgers

Goalkeeper – Peter Cech
Right Back – Seamus Coleman
Left Back –Luke Shaw
Centre Back – Vincent Kompany (Captain)
Centre Back – Per Mertesacker (Vice-Captain)
Centre Midfield – Steven Gerrard
Centre Midfield – Yaya Toure
Attacking Midfield – David Silva
Right Wing Forward – Mesut Ozil
Left Wing Forward – Edin Hazard
Centre Forward – Luis Suarez
I look forward to hearing your thoughts and if you’d make any substitutions!

Written by Liam Oakes
Liam is the Candidate Manager at Aaron Wallis and has been with the company for 2 years after having a career with the RAF; Liam has helped hundreds of Sales Professionals secure a new Sales role and ensures that Aaron Wallis runs smoothly.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Recruiting Cheap Could Be Costly

You've all heard the saying “you have to spend money to make money” and this is more often the case when it comes to your sales staff. I come across businesses quite often that either want to recruit sales staff on “Commission Only” or a 8k basic, 150k OTE!!!, however this mentality could actually cost you more in the long run.

Commission Only – It may seem like a cost effective way of increasing your sales team but very rarely does it work out that way. It can work in some industries, and is normally only when the salesperson can be compensated quickly upon making a sale, however it is not the case with the longer and more common sales cycles, complex sales where it takes time to build your pipeline and win the bigger deals. Going down the “Commission Only” route costs you time and that time is going to cost you money.
Low Basic, High OTE – It can be tempting for companies to go with the low basic, high commission strategy. This strategy will almost certainly cost you more. Getting the remuneration plans right is not simply paying the lowest basic you can get away with paying, if this prevents you from hiring the best talent you need to compete and win, it’s an expensive sales force. You can put in a lot of effort, time and money without producing results.
A top salesperson will not want to work for either of the above, they want the security of a good basic package whilst having an uncapped commission scheme to really motivate them and drive them towards the bigger deals. This doesn't mean you should pay any price for the talent you need, getting the right talent requires the right recruitment process. You can’t build a professional sales force without making the necessary investment. The cheaper you are investing in your Sales force, the worse your sales will be.
Get your recruitment right first time, choose your recruitment partner carefully and it will save you time and money.

Written by Liam Oakes
Liam is the Office Manager at Aaron Wallis and has been with the company for 3 years after having a career with the RAF; Liam has helped hundreds of Sales Professionals secure a new Sales role and ensures that Aaron Wallis runs smoothly.

Monday, 3 February 2014

Was Life Better For Teenagers Growing Up In The Eighties?

Do you wish you were a teenager growing up now instead of in the 80’s?” This was a question my fifteen year old daughter asked me recently and I found myself answering “No!” without a moment’s hesitation, as despite the technological advances that in many ways have made our lives easier, in so many other ways I think life as a teenager was better 30 years ago.

Today’s teenagers cannot make mistakes in the same way that we used to, no longer are they able to wake up after a party and cringe at the events of the night before in the privacy of their own bedroom. Now they are likely to wake up to every embarrassing detail being shared on Twitter and Facebook for all to see and comment on.

It is little wonder  that the Pastoral Care Officer at my daughter’s school now spends 90% of her time dealing with issues arising from social media -  all it takes is an unflattering photograph or video to be posted and before you know it some poor unsuspecting girl is being branded ‘ugly’ (or worse) for all to see. As parents we feel completely unprepared for handling these kind of situations, in our day it might have been a few nasty comments behind your back but now the humiliation (even by total strangers) is all so public and children growing up today need to be incredibly strong  to rise above it.

The result of this is that teenagers may feel that they have to be ‘on their guard’ when they start socialising which is something that we never had to worry about and in some ways is very sad. I am glad that I was able to grow up at my own pace, make mistakes and learn from them, knowing that the only person who would really know about my past was me (or those I chose to tell).

“So what else was better about growing up in the 80’s?” my daughter asked me. Well the job market for a start. I left school with ten O’ levels and two A’ levels and decided I wanted to work in a bank. I applied to Barclays, Natwest, Lloyds and Midland bank and was offered jobs at all of them, it was simply a case of deciding which one I liked the best. Even my friends who went to Uni came out with no debt and the promise of a good job at the end of their degree.

Now the competition is so fierce, even to get onto a good degree course, that the best Universities are looking at GCSE results and wanting students who are high achievers in all areas of life. The pressure to make the right choices, right from Year 9 when you are choosing which GCSE’s to study, is intense as it could affect your whole future in a way which we never had to worry about thirty years ago.

Even if you can get a decent job after completing your degree (rather than ending up working in a call centre or on a supermarket checkout), what are the chances of you ever being able to afford to get on the property ladder? We had to save hard for a year or so in our early twenties to be able to buy our first flat (it cost us £46,000 and we needed a £2300 deposit) but I never remember feeling concerned that it was something we couldn’t easily achieve.

Recently my nephew was able to buy his first home after working and living at home with his parents for many years, his flat cost £183,000 and he needed to save a £9150 deposit. For many young graduates coming out of University with thousands of pounds worth of debt and little prospect of walking into a well-paid job, the likelihood is that they will either be living with their parents or renting for a very long time.


So whilst today’s teenagers can download music instantly (rather than waiting with the cassette player on record on a Sunday night), view photographs instantly (rather than waiting weeks for their films to be developed at Borehamwood) and have information at their fingertips online (at the expense of learning to conduct research properly using a book), I would far rather have grown up in the 80’s as I think our generation had the kind of start in life which has given us the skills and work ethic to go out into the world of business and be high achievers .

Monday, 20 January 2014

The Tides They are a Changin'...


I’ve been in recruitment long enough to see several cycles of it being an ‘employer driven market’ and a ‘candidate driven market’.  We’re in a really interesting situation at the moment where employers think they ‘still hold the cards’ whereas the truth is that good candidates have a wealth of opportunities at their fingertips and truly are the ones that are ‘calling the shots’.
Particularly, in London, which let’s face it is an economy in its own right, the ‘fight for talent’ is as ferocious as it was in those heady years of 2004-2007.  We have seen candidates register on the Monday and be placed in a role before the week was out, and the majority of our candidates at a final interview stage have two or three opportunities to choose from.  In addition, we have also lost out on a couple of opportunities as employers dragged their heels in confirming the offer details in writing.

So what can employers do to ensure that they hire the best talent to their required timescales?

1) WORK TO A PLAN: A free checklist to ensure a well thought out plan is executed can be found here: http://www.aaronwallis.co.uk/Recruitment-Plan-Template.aspx

2) LOOK OUTSIDE THE OBVIOUS: I’ve spent the last five years trying to educate employers that recruiting from a competitor is not a great long-term move.  Think of it logically – would you move from ‘Company A’ to ‘Company B’ for exactly the same role for perhaps a few more quid?  It’s unrealistic.  So, employers need to look once again outside of the obvious.  In sales, it’s all about ‘routes to market’ – if someone sells a product through distribution, they will be able to sell your product, with product training, through distribution.  If someone sells a product into retailers, they will, with training, be able to sell your product into retailers.  If you are willing to flex on a candidate from an aligned company, you can then look for far greater qualities like i) can they sell, ii) are they a team fit iii) do they have the potential to develop in my organisation.  Subsequently you can target candidates from a pool of several hundred rather than ten to ensure you recruit the right person for your business.
3) YOU ALSO HAVE TO SELL AT INTERVIEW: Ensure that you sell your business, your role and the opportunity to candidates at the first-stage  interview.  More advice and a video on the ‘Importance of Selling to Candidates’ can be found here: http://www.aaronwallis.co.uk/how-to-not-lose-the-best-candidates.aspx
 
4) MOVE QUICKLY PART ONE: Arrange to meet your selected candidates within a few days of the CV being received.  If you meet someone at first interview that you want to move forward to the next stage then ensure that it happens within five working days.  I appreciate that everyone’s diary is busy but with the ability to Skype and so forth your director’s availability should no longer be an excuse.  If this is just an impossibility and the delay is going to be more than five days, then add an additional telephone interview stage in-between the first and second meetings.  This will keep the momentum going and ensure that the candidate remains engaged into your recruitment process.
5) MOVE QUICKLY PART TWO: Regardless of your company policy a successful applicant will expect a bullet pointed overview of the offer within two days.  Like yourself,  all sales people like decisive people!  Request that the candidate agrees in principle to the offer in writing by return.  If there is a delay in the response, you could be looking at a problem, but at least you will know about it sooner rather than later.  Then work with the recruiter, or the candidate directly, to get the start date confirmed as soon as possible and attempt to reduce the notice period to get them into your business sooner.
6) THE BIGGEST FALLACY OF ALL WHEN RECRUITING: “Well if he wasn’t prepared to wait three weeks for the final interview to meet with our very busy Managing Director then he evidently wasn’t the right candidate for our organisation”.  You can justify it to yourself all you like but good sales candidates want to work for well directed, decisive and driven organisations that know what they want, where they are going and what they need to get there.  This is now a candidate driven market again and you need to follow the above steps.
Hope that this helps to ensure that you do not lose out on the best sales talent