5 atypical places to find SAM talent

hand writing business success diagram

Outside of C-level engagement and account selection/deselection, it is probably fair to say that talent management has the biggest impact on the success or failure of a SAM initiative. In the words of SAMA’s President & CEO Bernard Quancard, “Talent is a war.” The difference between a superstar SAM and a run-of-the-mill one is like the difference between an NBA player and that guy who puts up 30 points a game in your Sunday night rec league.

So when it comes to finding those “1 percenter” SAMs — the best of the best – where should you be looking? SAMA research has shown, again and again, that the best SAMs do not necessarily come from the sales organization. A person with the magical combination of listening skills, financial acumen and leadership abilities could be a senior buyer, product manager, plan manager or technical expert. While this is all fine and good, you still have to go out there and actually FIND those people. Here are a few tips on the search for SAM talent in “unusual” places.

1. Boomerang employees

While re-hiring a former employee may have been frowned upon once, in this age of job hopping, companies have started to look more favorably bringing back past top performers. Why? For starters, they’re already familiar with (and presumably attuned to) the company culture. And secondly, their time in another company or even industry has inevitably left them with new experiences, new skills, new contacts and new a fresh point of view.

2. Employee referrals

This should probably be the first thing you do when you’re looking to hire a new SAM. It’s cheaper, and it’s faster and – most importantly by far – more often than not it leads to a better hire. Recruiting SAMs through existing employees also creates “stickiness” – both the referrer and the referral tend to stay at their companies longer than outside hires.

3. LinkedIn

The social media platform allows you to proactively create a larger network than you ever could in real life. You can do a keyword search for key skills and attributes you’re looking for in SAMs, filter by current or past employers and also seek out referrals from among your LinkedIn network. The key is to work on building these relationships, whether virtual or face-to-face, proactively — not just when you have a need to fill. And when you come across someone with great skills and experience, start building the relationship – even if you don’t have a job to fill at the moment.

4. Customers

Since your SAMs function like the CEO of the customer relationship, doesn’t it make sense to ask for your customer’s input when you hire a SAM? In rare cases, your customer might actually recommend someone from the account team, like a functional expert or another key cog. While that might be asking too much, your customer can certainly let you know what specific skills, attributes and working style they value in the person who’s going to serve as their most important liaison with your company.

5. “Meet now, hire later”

We touched on this in point #3, but whenever you run into someone with qualifications you value – at an industry conference, professional development event or the gym – give them a card and start building a relationship…even if you don’t have a job to offer them at the moment. It’ll come in handy when you are looking to bring someone in.

Remember: None of these tips has any value if your organization doesn’t have a very good idea of what you’re looking for in your SAMs. (SAMA can help with that!) But assuming you’ve got that part of the equation sewn up, it will behoove you to spend some of your time hunting for talent in more out-of-the-way places.

For more information on finding and selecting the right SAM talent. Check out our Pan-European conference session #17: Finding and Selecting the Right Talent for Strategic Accounts and register to attend today.

How to network without becoming a nuisance

We’ve all been there. You’re at a conference or industry event, making connections like the seasoned pro you are, and someone just won’t take the hint and leave your side. Let’s face it: At one time or another in your life, it’s been YOU who’s the person unable to take the hint and move along. For the good of humanity, here’s quick list (adapted from Dorie Clark, writing at HBR.org) of signals someone is ready to stop talking to you.

Body language

If your interlocutor keeps glancing at her watch, she probably wants to wrap things up. If her responses become dramatically shorter, she’s probably ready to move on from you. And check out her feet: If they’re positioned away from you, she’s likely looking to bolt.

Time yourself 

When people are nervous, they ramble. And since studies show that people struggle to know how long they’ve been speaking, it’s important to practice. Learn what it feels like to talk for 30 seconds or a minute. Early in a networking conversation, before you know it’s going well, try never to speak for longer than a minute at a time.

Let them do most of the talking

Don’t just ask questions, but ask open-ended questions. Rather than ask, “How long have you worked at _____ ?” ask “How did you become passionate about  [your line of work]?” Early on, strive for a 70/30 or 60/40 split for their speaking time versus yours.

Be more interesting

Easy, right? If you’re networking, you know you’re going to get variations of tried-and-true small talk questions like, “What have you been working on lately?” or “What’s new with you?” You can’t afford to wing these! If you give boring, canned answers to these “gimmes,” it isn’t going to make people want to go deeper. Practice giving answers that spark intrigue – or at least more in-depth questioning. Whatever y

If you’re nervous, it can cloud your energy. Use these tips to avoid being “that guy.

 


Ready to put your network skills to use? Join us at a SAMA 2017 Conference in March or May.