How To Run A Candidate Vetting Process

Hiring the right people for your team can be an expensive and time-consuming process. Glassdoor estimates that the average American company spends about $4,000 to hire a new employee and that the process often takes more than 50 days to complete. Managers face the additional complexity of trying to determine which candidates are most qualified tosucceed in the open role. Developing a fair, inclusive and efficient recruitment strategy is a must for any business seeking new talent.

HubSpot writer Caroline Forsey says an effective vetting process should contain a few critical elements. We explore the key components of the vetting process in this issue of Promotional Consultant Today.

Write an accurate job description. It’s worth taking the time to create an accurate and compelling job description. When you do, you’re laying the groundwork for you and the candidate to ensure a mutually beneficial fit from the start. Try to focus on the attributes you desire. If you’re hiring a new sales rep, for example, you might list “customer-focus mentality” as a top priority. Forsey says it’s also important that your job description appeals to a diverse audience. Diverse teams tend to perform better and come up with more creative ideas.

Use software to review applications. In a vetting process, you can filter out candidates who don’t have the skills to succeed in the role. It’s important to vet an applicant’s resume, cover letter and other materials submitted in the application process. Forsey recommends checking out a blind search system in which resumes are scanned by software, ensuring that resumes are automatically sorted by skill.

Set up a video interview before a phone call. Video interviews that prompt candidates with questions and record their responses is another great step to include in your candidate vetting process. In high-volume roles, watching video responses is an effective way for hiring mangers to determine if they’d like to proceed with a candidate. By using video interviews, you can limit the amount of time you spend on phone calls trying to find the right person.

Use other assessment tools to evaluate. Before you bring someone on board full-time, you want to ensure he or she will succeed in the role. One way to do this is by offering initial assessments. For customer-facing positions, offer role plays. If you’re hiring someone for your marketing team, consider having candidates develop a pitch. An initial assessment allows you to see if the candidate has the skills you’re looking for.

Stick to a process. From background checks to assessment tools, it’s important to remain consistent in every step of the vetting process. Use the same background check or pre-screening techniques on every candidate and be sure not to require any additional information that doesn’t apply to the job. Forsey notes that a vetting process is only effective if it’s consistent and replicable. By establishing a process and sticking with it, you can effectively review candidates and determine which ones are best qualified to advance to next steps.

If you have an open spot on your team, use the tactics above to help determine a mutual fit for your team and candidates.

Source: Caroline Forsey is a staff writer for HubSpot’s marketing blog and has been voted one of Express Writer’s and Buzzsumo’s “Top 100 Content Marketers of 2018.”

What Meditation Can Teach You About Sales

Those who take a few minutes for mindful meditation each day experience many benefits, from greater self-awareness to better emotional health. For salespeople, meditating can lead to improved listening skills, better mental resilience, slower reactions for improved critical thinking, and reduced stress, which leads to better overall health and more time for selling.

If you don’t regularly meditate or you’ve never tried sitting in silence for a short time, it’s worth checking out. You don’t even need to carve out a big chunk of time—just a few minutes will do the trick. Alex Kremer, a speaker and account executive who has worked at Microsoft and Docusign, recently meditated for 365 days in a row and discovered three big takeaways from this daily practice. Here, we explore Kremer’s findings and how meditation can help you achieve more success in sales.

Lesson No. 1: Let the pressure be heard. With quotas and deadlines looming, Kremer admits that the pressure salespeople sometimes feel can be crushing. Rather than trying to tamp down that tension, Kremer learned to accept it. He found that when he turned toward the tension, he could see the gift in it. It’s healthier for salespeople to acknowledge job stress than keep pushing it down and grinding it out.

Lesson No. 2: Acknowledge without judgment. Many of us are guilty of overthinking and wondering how we ended up at a certain conclusion. Through meditation, Kremer learned to become aware of the overthinking and decided to simply listen to his mind and body. By being more mindful, Kremer says he has become more empathetic with prospects during conversations. He can more easily pick up on tensions and nuances. Noticing these things without judging takes practice, but in the long run, Kremer says it allows for stronger relationships to form.

Lesson No. 3: Stop the burnout before it happens. When you work in sales, the calls, e-mails, negotiations and meetings seem to stack up without an end in sight. While you might be used to powering through, Kremer suggests a different approach: take a step back. When you feel your stress mounting and you feel you are approaching your breaking point, pause for a moment. Take a few deep breaths. Center yourself. Level your nerves before getting back to work.

What started as a year-long practice for Kremer has become a lifelong journey. He recommends starting at five minutes of meditation every day and seeing where that takes you. A variety of apps offer guided meditation, or you can simply quiet your mind, breathe in for four seconds and exhale for five seconds. If a guided or structured meditation isn’t right for you, Kremer recommends simply sitting quietly for two minutes with no book, television, laptop or people to interrupt this dedicated time.

Whether you start your day with a morning meditation, squeeze in some quiet time on your lunch break or fit in some mindfulness before bed, meditation can do wonders for your stress levels and productivity in the workplace.

Source: Alex Kremer is a speaker and an account executive who has experience working at Microsoft and Docusign.

Nine Bad Sales Habits To Break

Highly successful salespeople have developed some stellar habits. They didn’t become one of their organization’s top reps by good luck. They have honed their craft and become the best at what they do. On the flip side, many sales reps struggle to develop winning habits. Or, maybe they remain stuck in old practices that no longer generate sales. Whatever the case may be, it’s important that you connect with prospective customers the right way and provide real value in order to close the most deals. It pays to take a step back and reflect on sales habits that might be harming your success.

Marketing and social media professional James Meincke has identified nine bad sales habits that hinder a salesperson’s ability to close deals.

1. Trying to sell to everyone. Don’t make as many calls as possible and hope that you land a few clients. That’s not effective. Meincke asserts that it’s much better to target your sales pitches to companies that are a good fit for what you’re selling.

2. Sending generic e-mails. Considering that most people receive close to 100 business-related e-mails each day, it’s no secret that e-mail overload is a staggering problem. When you send a sales e-mail that is clearly from a template, you make it all too easy for the recipient to click “delete.” Instead, aim to personalize your e-mails to increase your chances of getting a response.

3. Calling without conducting any research first. Don’t waste your prospect’s time by asking questions that can easily be researched. Before you dial their number, research the company and contact person. Use this information to inform your approach. By asking customized questions, you position yourself as a consultative partner.

4. Still using BANT. For nearly six decades, BANT (Budget, Authority, Need and Time) has been used as a tool to qualify prospects. However, the problem remains that this technique focuses on the seller’s needs. When using BANT, sales reps are essentially asking questions to determine if the prospect is worth their time. Don’t continue using this old-school approach. Meincke says the sales process-including qualification—should always be customer-focused. Make sure you put the customer’s needs before your own.

5. Overly stating someone’s name. You may think it’s a good thing to keep saying a prospect’s name to prove you actually know the person. However, it ends up coming off as cheesy and could potentially cost you the sale.

6. Pretending you know everything. Prospects know when you’re making up an answer. It’s best to admit when you don’t know the answer to a question and commit to getting back to the prospect as soon as possible.

7. Sending a follow-up e-mail simply to ask for a status update. Nobody likes getting those “just checking in” e-mails. Every time you reach out to your clients and prospects, you should be adding value. Give them a link to a great article or provide an interesting piece of research. Never just “check in.”

8. Giving up on a deal too soon. Sales, especially large ones, take time. Expect to talk to multiple people and complete many processes before closing a deal. Remain persistent and the work you invest will eventually pay off.

9. Asking prospects to print and sign a PDF. Don’t expect customers to shoulder all the work of printing, signing and scanning the documents you need. Invest in a tool that allows contracts to be signed digitally.
Are you guilty of one (or a few) of these bad sales habits? If so, commit to building better sales habits one at a time.

Source: James Meincke is senior marketing manager at CloserIQ and a freelance social media strategist.

How To Conquer Your Nerves Before A Big Presentation

Making a presentation can be nerve-wracking. Whether you’re pitching a potential client or giving a speech at a local event, getting up in front of others for public speaking can get your adrenaline pumping and induce feelings of anxiousness. You might worry that you’ll mess up and everyone will see. While this sweaty-palmed, heart-racing nervousness isn’t the most comfortable feeling, it helps to know that it is an ingrained reaction. Increased adrenaline helped our ancestors flee or fight in dangerous situations. It also helps to know that you can overcome presentation anxiety.

Nancy Duarte, a communication expert featured in FortuneForbesFast Company and many other publications, discusses some ways to conquer presentation anxiety.

Take time to properly prepare. To ensure that everything goes as smoothly as possible on presentation day, your first step is to prepare. Rehearse what you’re going to say. Envision the audience. Anticipate tough questions. Pretend you’re standing on stage or at the front of the room and invest some time practicing your material. Nerves are often triggered by surprise, and you’ll benefit by making your talk a more predictable event.

Visualize a great presentation. The brain can’t always distinguish between real experiences and imaged ones, so take advantage of that fact. Picture every minute of the presentation in great detail. Imagine when the meeting is turned over to you and you step up to introduce yourself. How will you feel? What will you say to greet your audience? What will the audience look like? If you thought you were well prepared, this technique will make you feel ultra-prepared. After you give your imagined presentation, you will feel like you have done it before and the real deal will be an encore.

Embrace uncertainty. Some things are just beyond your control. You might trip going up on stage. The microphone might not work. Your PowerPoint might not load. Rather than pretend you have total control over a situation, trust that you have done all you can to prepare and leave it at that. The chances of your worst fears coming true are slim. If you happen to goof up during your presentation, roll with it. You can’t control how the audience reacts, but you can steer them in the right direction by remaining cool and calm.

Learn to be okay with blank faces. Your audience won’t always nod their heads or chuckle at your jokes. Oftentimes, they’ll just sit there. Accept that groups of people, no matter the size, don’t always make sounds of agreement such as “uh-huh.” They’re not judging your presentation but likely trying to be polite and listen to what you have to say. Or, they might be in a world of their own. Don’t let anyone’s body language or blank face faze you. Just focus on what you rehearsed and keep going.

Whether you’re stepping into the boardroom or stepping up to the podium, use the tips above to overcome nervous feelings before your next big presentation.

Source: Nancy Duarte is a communication expert who has been featured in Fortune, Forbes, Fast Company, Wired, The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, The Economist, LA Times and on CNN. Her firm, Duarte, Inc., is the global leader behind some of the most influential visual messages in business and culture.

Watch For These Marketing Trends In 2019

To maximize your marketing in the year ahead, it’s important to know how to connect with your audience in the ever-evolving marketing landscape. With new technologies and new behaviors impacting the effectiveness of your marketing, it pays to consider the past year’s patterns and note emerging trends.
Here, author Deep Patel shares some of the biggest marketing trends to keep an eye on in 2019.

A shifting marketing funnel. Instead of creating a marketing funnel that accepts anyone, move toward niche audiences. Contacting people and businesses who are interested in your products and services saves you money and time.

Content rises in importance. People crave phenomenal content. In the year ahead, think about how you can create articles or videos that inspire your audience, provoke their thoughts, appeal to their emotions, or excite them. Don’t just write a post to write it; craft a piece with a goal of getting readers to share and engage with it. When you do, you open the door for two-way communication, which ultimately helps you build trust.

AI’s growth continues. Artificial intelligence (AI) can help you target potential leads faster and can perform all kinds of tasks such as monitoring consumers’ online patterns. No matter how you choose to take advantage of AI in the year ahead, it’s smart to pay attention to how your audience reacts to it and whether your competitors use it.

An uptick in chatbots. In 2019, these AI helpers aren’t going anywhere. Grand View Research reports that the worldwide chatbot market will reach $1.25 billion by 2025, growing 24.3 percent annually. Plus, your customers likely want to use chatbots instead of calling someone or sending an e-mail. Nearly half (45 percent) of end users prefer using chatbots for customer service.

Consumers pay more attention to security. People want to know how businesses handle their information, so ensure that your company’s security is thorough. In an era of hacks, leaks and theft, make sure to discuss your security with customers. What are you doing to ensure the safest business experience?

Voice search gets louder. If you haven’t yet explored voice search, make 2019 the year to get ahead of the game by making sure you’re optimized for voice searches. Search Engine Land predicts voice-based commerce sales will soar to $40 billion by 2022.

Visual searches take off. Voice searches will be huge this year and so will visual searches thanks to new camera technology that allows people to find information about something simply by snapping a photo. To take advantage of visual searches, make sure you include Pinterest in your marketing efforts and optimize your website for SEO.

A greater focus on Gen Z. Members of the second-youngest generation crave authenticity and prefer socially responsible businesses. As they get older, their buying power increases. Make sure your marketing reflects what matters to this group to best connect with them in 2019.

Influencers become more personal. While celebrities used to dominate influencer marketing, consumers now lean toward their peers to decide what to buy. Instead of celebrity marketing, many brands are turning to real people (micro-influencers) because people trust individuals like them.

To win at marketing in the year ahead, don’t keep doing what you have always done. Keep an eye on emerging technologies, methods and patterns to maximize your marketing efforts.

Source: Deep Patel is the author of A Paperboy’s Fable: The 11 Principles of Success. The book was dubbed the No. 1 best business book in 2016 by Success Magazineand named the best book for entrepreneurs in 2016 by Entrepreneur Magazine.

What Leaders Should Know About the Rumor Mill

My company recently announced an organizational change. An entire department that used to report to one senior leader was told it would now report to a different senior leader. The funny thing is that when the change was announced, the reaction among employees was, “So what?”

The reason for the apathetic attitude? This rumor had already been circulating around the company for months, so by the time the actual move took place, people no longer had a reaction to it.

In her recent Forbes article, Dr. Carol Kinsey Goman, an expert body language coach, stated that 70 percent of communication that takes place within an organization comes through the grapevine, yet many senior leaders are unaware that it exists or how it operates. In this case, the “grapevine” is the informal and unsanctioned communication network found in every organization.

Goman interviewed more than 1,100 employees in a wide variety of companies and industries regarding the power of the grapevine.

1. Rumor trumps the actual source. Goman’s interviews revealed that if there were conflicting messages—one delivered during a speech from the company leader and another spread through the grapevine—more people (47 percent) would believe the grapevine, and only 42 percent would believe senior leadership. (The remaining 11 percent were undecided.)

2. Put it in writing. Goman found that putting something in writing tends to give the content more validity. When she asked if people were more likely to believe an official newsletter (online or print) versus the rumor mill, most respondents (51 percent) favored the newsletter, with only 40 percent placing more faith in the grapevine.

3. Direct supervisors were the most trusted sources of information. Due to the more personal relationship that exists between employee and supervisor, it wasn’t surprising that 74 percent said they would believe their boss. Still, many stipulated that it would depend on the quality of that relationship.

4. Certain situations escalate the rumor mill. In her interviews, Goman discovered there were some conditions when you should expect the rumor mill to kick into high gear: These conditions include:

  • When formal communication is lacking
  • When the situation is ambiguous or uncertain (as in times of major change)
  • When there is no sanctioned channel for venting
  • When there is a culture of silos and internal competition
  • When the communicator’s body language (gestures, facial expressions, tone of voice) contradicts his/her verbal message
  • When there is a heavy-handed attempt by management to kill the grapevine

5. Multiple sources of truth. In Goman’s study, 57 percent believed the rumor mill was accurate, but what tends to happen most often in the workplace is that people believe a “blend” of what they hear, rather than making a clear choice between more formal communication and the grapevine.

Companies are a combination of formal hierarchy and informal networks, but most communication strategies consider only the formal organization. While we will always need authentic speeches from senior leaders, for example, it’s just as important to understand the power and influence from the complex web of social interactions and informal networks within our organizations. Identify the most influential people who operate within it and listen to the information being communicated by them.

Source: Carol Kinsey Goman, Ph.D., is an international speaker and a body language coach who helps politicians, business executives and sales teams align their verbal and nonverbal messages for greater impact and professional success.

Get Your Day Back By Saying No

Yep, it happened again this morning. My coffee was hot. I had my task list laid out for the day, and I was ready to seize the day. Then the distractions started.

A coworker walked into my office with a “quick question” that turned into a 30-minute discussion. Then, I got a call to join a meeting that was in progress, because they needed my feedback. I had no sooner arrived back at my desk when I received an e-mail asking for more detailed instructions on a project I was roped into the week before. I looked up and it was noon. I hadn’t even started on task No. 1 for the day.

Here, we’re sharing insights about time management from Mike Schultz, president of RAIN Group a sales training organization. Schultz hears similar stories from clients across the country. In order to help employees get their days back and become more productive, he offers insight into four things you should decline on a regular basis.

Prune your priorities. The adage goes, if you have 12 priorities, you have none. Schultz notes that many leaders not only have too many priorities, but they also often don’t have the right priorities. He suggests that leaders who want to lower the number of priorities and focus on the right ones ask themselves which ones they’re excited about. His mantra for this: “If it’s not a gung-ho, it’s a no.” Select five key priorities you need to focus on for the day, and work from there.

Turn down the noise. Office and remote workers alike are being bombarded daily with requests that take their time. If you are being called into too many office meetings, ask the meeting planners in advance about the meeting agenda and how you can be helpful. If the planner only needs you for five minutes out of the 60-minute meeting, arrange for when you can join the meeting to provide that update and leave immediately afterwards. You’ve just saved yourself 55 minutes.

Keep a “to-don’t” list. Most leaders know what they want to accomplish and keep a to-do list to manage their time. But what about a list of what you need toavoid to stay focused. Keep a list of tasks that you should not be doing right now and keep it nearby your to-do list. For instance, you know that a presentation is due next week, but it isn’t high priority today, like the other tasks you need to complete. Write down that this presentation should not be a part of your day (just for today) and keep the to—don’t list as a reminder to stop yourself from working on that project—at least until the high-priority tasks have been completed. There will be a time when working on this project is a mandatory task.

Say no to your bad work habits. Bad habits are to blame for sabotaging time, no matter what the vice is. Do you check e-mail so often that it distracts you from your workload? Do you reach for your phone every time you hear it buzz? Do you check your fantasy football team every hour to make sure none of your players have reported an injury that will prevent him from playing? Well, it’s time to put those behaviors to an end—if you’re aiming to be more productive, that is. Even if these distractions only appear momentarily, they’re still absorbing precious time in your workday that could be used to complete tasks.

Source: Mike Shultz is the director of the RAIN Group Center for Sales Research and president of RAIN Group, a global sales training and performance improvement company.

Washington Proposes State-Wide Plastic Bag Ban

Washington is angling to become the second state – after California – to ban single-use plastic bags. Such bans have the potential to stir sales of branded reusable products, like totes, in the promotional products industry.

“Right now, there are more than 86 million metric tons of plastic in our oceans and the equivalent of five grocery bags of plastic trash for every foot of coastline spills into the oceans annually,” said Washington Sen. Kevin Ranker in a recent press statement.

The proposed state bill would prohibit plastic carryout bags, though the ban would be phased in to give businesses time to use up existing stock. Paper bags would be available for 10 cents each. Small plastic bags, used for carrying items including meat, produce and flowers, would be exempt from the ban. The bill is being backed by environmental and conservation groups, as well as an association representing major grocers.

More than 20 communities in Washington already have some form of plastic bag ban on the books, joining a growing movement toward outlawing single-use plastic products. Such bans are a potential boon for the promotional products industry, since they could possibly boost sales of branded tote bags and other reusable items. Charleston, the largest city in South Carolina, recently banned plastic bags, straws and foam containers. California was the first to enact a state-wide ban, though Hawaii essentially has done the same, since all of its most populous counties passed their own plastic bag bans. Major cities like Seattle have authorized bag restrictions, and scores of other smaller municipalities have done the same, including the Philadelphia suburb Narberth, and Lambertville, NJ.

Of course, the push to ban single-use plastic bags has also seen a bit of a backlash. The state of Ohio is eyeing a bill that would prevent local governments from adopting legislation that would tax or ban the use of “auxiliary containers,” a category that includes single-use plastic bags.

Supporters of the pending Ohio legislation say it will bring consistency to the state. Without the bill, “we would have a patchwork of inconsistent laws on the issue around the state, which is a regulatory burden for businesses,” State Rep. Jay Edwards told the Athens News. “Kroger has a full business plan to reduce plastic bags to zero over the next couple years. I believe there are other ways, similar to Kroger’s plan, to go about reducing harmful materials into our environment.”

Earlier this year, the Texas Supreme Court struck down a bag ban in Laredo, which in turn led to Austin no longer enforcing its long-standing bag ban.

Promotional Food Tips & Trends

If you make your money selling food, should you give it away as a promo product? The connection seems like a natural fit, but the reality is that the food service industry looks first to apparel and hard goods when it comes to their promotional needs.

Still, don’t discount food as a powerful gift, especially as suppliers offer the capability to integrate it into a kitted package. Mosinee, WI-based Maple Ridge Farms (asi/68680) has added logoed mugs, beach bags, towels, tumblers, cheese boards and office accessories to its food baskets from suppliers that distributors already trust. “The great thing for our distributor partners is they get to utilize those same supplier relationships and pair it together with our food gifts,” says Jodie Schillinger, director of customer care for Maple Ridge Farms. “Suppliers are trying to be more agile in competing with e-commerce. We’re competing with insta-click and ship. We need to ask ourselves, what are you doing to disrupt it back?”

As far as food trends, Schillinger says spice-infused foods and candies are popular now, echoing the National Restaurant Association report that saw ethnic spices come in at number 10 on its Top 20 Food Trends list for 2018 and number two on its Condiments and Accouterments forecast. Sea salt is also on-trend, Schillinger says: Maple Ridge Farms’ sea salt chocolate caramels – a “rookie product just a few years ago,” she adds – is now its bestselling chocolate.

Wood is also trending, she says, in the form of crates to hold food and cutting boards inside food-gift baskets.

ANNOUNCING THE PANTONE COLOR OF THE YEAR 2019 PANTONE 16-1546 Living Coral

An animating and life-affirming coral hue with a golden undertone that energizes and enlivens with a softer edge

Vibrant, yet mellow PANTONE 16-1546 Living Coral embraces us with warmth and nourishment to provide comfort and buoyancy in our continually shifting environment.

In reaction to the onslaught of digital technology and social media increasingly embedding into daily life, we are seeking authentic and immersive experiences that enable connection and intimacy. Sociable and spirited, the engaging nature of PANTONE 16-1546 Living Coral welcomes and encourages lighthearted activity. Symbolizing our innate need for optimism and joyful pursuits, PANTONE 16-1546 Living Coral embodies our desire for playful expression.

Representing the fusion of modern life, PANTONE Living Coral is a nurturing color that appears in our natural surroundings and at the same time, displays a lively presence within social media.

Pantone Color of the Year 2019, Leatrice Eiseman Quote.

PANTONE 16-1546 Living Coral emits the desired, familiar, and energizing aspects of color found in nature. In its glorious, yet unfortunately more elusive, display beneath the sea, this vivifying and effervescent color mesmerizes the eye and mind. Lying at the center of our naturally vivid and chromatic ecosystem, PANTONE Living Coral is evocative of how coral reefs provide shelter to a diverse kaleidoscope of color.

About Pantone Color of the Year

For 20 years, Pantone’s Color of the Year has influenced product development and purchasing decisions in multiple industries, including fashion, home furnishings, and industrial design, as well as product, packaging, and graphic design.

The Color of the Year selection process requires thoughtful consideration and trend analysis. To arrive at the selection each year, Pantone’s color experts at the Pantone Color Institute comb the world looking for new color influences. This can include the entertainment industry and films in production, traveling art collections and new artists, fashion, all areas of design, popular travel destinations, as well as new lifestyles, playstyles, and socio-economic conditions. Influences may also stem from new technologies, materials, textures, and effects that impact color, relevant social media platforms and even upcoming sporting events that capture worldwide attention.