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We’ve been doing quite a bit of work recently with some rather exciting and interesting global channels and alliances sales positions. Smashing work if you can get it. Big fees, heavyweight , professional and gravitational sales candidates that are a pleasure to deal with. The jobs themselves though seem harder to fill than most. In fact as a business that uses quality of interview activity within its bonus scheme to promote good work I’ve been disappointed to find that on a couple of jobs the “quality” , i.e. the conversion ratio of interviews to offers is quite skewed. So I’ve launched an investigation into why.

It took me a while to work it out. Irrespective of the fact that I don’t wish to be perceived as some accusatory which-hunt leading manager the first thing I did was check the work of the consultants. Was the admin done professionally and properly? Was the match made diligently? Is the job spec right? Have we sufficiently and closely understood the needs of the candidate. Was the candidate sufficiently prepared for the interview by the consultant and a host of other questions that we would invariably ask in what for us what we would regard as a “service failure” i.e a less than optimal conversion ratio number.

I couldn’t find a problem anywhere. In fact he majority of the work which had spanned the desks of two particular consultants had been exemplary. It was only when I started reading the notes of interview feedback that I started to draw a conclusion that was in any way useful. The real issue is the nature of the jobs themselves and how they relate to the job market and the interviewer in particular.The sheer nebulous nature of a channels or alliances position , particularly one focussed on alliances means that it is inordinately difficult to quantify the extent of an individuals achievements. This manifested by way of interview feedback that we often see with candidates that don’t prove their achievements at interviews at the lower ends of the job market.

“I couldn’t quite put my finger on it – he seemed like a good guy”

“There’s just something I’m not sure about – he came across very well”

At the enterprise level the feedback is even worse still. So what is going on?

1. At the enterprise level channel sales director type role it is incredibly difficult for a hiring client to work out whether a candidate has been successful because of where he worked or because of his endeavours. Was it SAP or was it Mr x? Was it a good market or was it you?

2. Within alliance level roles it is again very difficult to prove the actual impact of the individual concerned and the extent to which they have genuinely added value. Would the alliance have happened anyway due to its strategic importance? would the revenues have flowed without individual x anyway due to the nature of the demand within the market at that point in time? It’s difficult to prove.

What was most interesting was that when I spoke to the consultants about it they made an interesting point. Notably both had tried to stress the importance of preparing information in documented and concrete form that the candidates could display at the interview in order to give nervous hiring managers the basic comfort and belief that the individuals concerned had made a difference. It appeared that none of the candidates had done so. Why?

1. The individuals who were unsuccessful at interview believed they were “above” behaving in such a way. It appears that they had been scuppered by their own hubris borne of big salaries and many years in the industry without closely defined targets and autonomous working or dare I say it , “loose management”.

2. The individuals concerned DIDNT HAVE THE INFORMATION IN THE FIRST PLACE. On a couple of occasions those individuals when advised by our consultants to ensure that they garnered the relevant documentary evidence to support their application, confessed that they had simply never accumulated anything of that nature and were often only capable of pointing at sizeable p60’s often skewed in relation to basic salary and OTE by nature of the alliance type role which actually made the problem worse. It seems that given these more nebulous roles have a less defined target and achievement structure people unconsciously pay less attention to the importance of accumulating what some would rather cheaply refer to as the “brag file”. They are particularly inattentive to and naive about the importance of proving their VALUE ADD within the their tenure in that position and it is here that they come a cropper.

So here is my advice. Start today, not on the day that you get made redundant , fired or fall out with your manager. start immediately and start collecting. Be obsessive! Collect everything you can that says you made a difference and are good at what you do. If you are unsure what to collect or prepare call us! Don’t wait until you are looking for a job to write a case study about how you influenced a strategic partner to increase their yield by 100%. Do it now whilst its fresh in you mind and add it to the folder.DO IT NOW because you wont be able to when its too late and then it will become a job market lottery rather than one that you control.

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