Part 2: Hiring the Best Sales Talent: Lessons from the NFL Draft

Adding to your sales team with people who are the perfect fit can be challenging. In the conclusion of this two-part series we continue to explore the seven objectives to effectively recruiting and hiring for your business.

In the first part of this two-part series, we covered three specific objectives needed to create a proven recruiting, hiring and induction system.

Objective No. 1: Win the talent war to achieve your growth goals.

Objective No. 2: Develop a sales candidate profile that guides your interview team.

Objective No. 3: Attract and recruit a large pool of applicants to improve your chances of finding the right person.

Here’s a look back at Part 1.

The remaining four steps must help you find the best candidates who can do the sales job and meet your business growth expectations.

So, back to the NFL for a minute: Imagine yourself as the director of player personnel and you have completed all the steps for a successful NFL draft. All of your competitors are represented in the room. National TV crews, analysts and sports media are everywhere. The first-round candidates and families are in the “Green Room.” Loyal fans are in the room dressed and ready to go. Your Draft Room is manned and ready back at the team facility.

Everyone—owners, management, existing players, the press and fans—are all ready to give their immediate critique of each and every pick made that first night.

Now you and your team must evaluate, screen/sort and prioritize many talented candidates who have applied for your sales opportunity. The best hiring processes use a score sheet with a profile that details the proven skills, attitude and behaviors that fit your needs.

During your version of a “Combine” or “Pro Day,” the “Score Sheet” guides each interviewer as they grade the skills, competencies, traits and characteristics you desire.

Your disciplined interview process needs to help win the talent war and take the best candidate “off the market.”

Now that you’re caught up. Let’s move on to Objective No. 4.

Objective no. 4: Conduct out-of-the-box interviews, assessments and ranking

If you are going after the best talent your business needs, your assessment and interview process needs to help you find the best talent you can afford. The hiring process will never be perfect but needs to be rigorous enough to give you the level of confidence that your selection actually can do the job you require.

The interview process must go beyond the resume, LinkedIn profile and background check. This is not about how well they can sell to you, it is about how well they are willing to successfully sell for you. You must uncover how a candidate behaves in the real life situations your team faces. The challenge is to find the ones who will sell and win for you.

Your interview process and team must help assess and identify the strengths and weaknesses of the candidates. It may not be practical to recreate real-life situations but think about past business trips and coaching rides with sales people. What did you learn, what did you like and what concerned you during these trips? 

On your score sheet, your team needs to assess the required level of skills, experience and behaviors that fit your needs and allow them to be successful after initial training.

Interviewers should uncover the candidate’s skills and experience to determine if the person is “ready for Prime Time” in the role you desire. The interviewers must also uncover some unique advantages the candidate brings that you can leverage to your benefit. Consider the following questions:

  • Do they have the intelligence and creativity—how smart are they in real-world situations? How do they solve complex problems in chaotic environments? Do they display strong character, integrity and work ethic? Do they act and behave as a leader without title or position? Are they humble and self-aware and take responsibility to lead and make timely decisions where they are while challenging others to achieve desired results?
  • In business, professional and social situations are they prepared to and capable of taking advantage of opportunities we present now and in the future? Can you rely on their proven background of respect, values, behaviors, personality and ability to fit into your culture? Do they have potential to take on increased responsibility in the future?
  • Are they dependable? Can you trust them to make good decisions? Are they dedicated to the craft and profession? Do they show up prepared and ready and are open to feedback, coaching and change?
  • Are they tough and resilient? Do they have the competitive intensity you need when they have to think on their feet in unfamiliar or stressful situations?

Objective no. 5: Develop a short list of qualified applicants to anticipate your offer conversion percentages.

As the interviews progress, do you have enough qualified applicants to begin to make decisions? Do any of the candidates bring benefits you had not considered? Did you learn anything about your compensation and benefits that needs to be resolved? Do you have to continue recruiting?

Objective no. 6: Prepare your “Draft Day” board to make the offer. Assess and screen your short list of applicants to make sure that you’re making an appropriate match. Who is number 1? Develop your list of the best available talent and prepare for the offers, some rejections and the negotiations and acceptance.

Objective no. 7: Finalize the acceptance and onboarding.

Good news! Your offer has been accepted and now it is time for a successful transition.

A successful onboarding program helps everyone get off to a great start and succeed in their assigned role. This is an opportunity to ensure new employees are aware of the company’s expectations and the tangible and intangible benefits that are available to them. Topics include:

  • An introduction to the company and its policies, benefits and benefit resources available to them, including job specific training and career development
  • An introduction to the culture, values and history of the company and the industry
  • A tailored and rapid development agenda to get them “ready for Prime Time” and set them up to achieve early success
  • Employee and department performance expectations, including the importance of the culture, respect for customers, vendors and each other in the workplace

Congratulations! You hired a well screened person that fits your needs. Your talent recruiting and hiring process helped you win this part of the talent war. A disciplined and well-executed hiring process can help you transform your company and take it levels you did not dream.

Wayne Bergman is a business and executive coach and founder of Consistent Business Growth. Questions or comments about this piece? 

Email him directly at

  • Email
  • Next up: Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness Month: How an Eye Exam Could Save Your Life
  • More in HR
  • Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness Month: How an Eye Exam Could Save Your Life

    The month of November is Diabetic Eye Disease Awareness Month, the perfect reminder to schedule a comprehensive eye exam if you haven’t done so already. One of the most common misconceptions about eye exams is that they’re only testing your sight, but getting annual comprehensive eye exams is an important part of preventive health care. Here’s why it’s so important.

    Can you detect diabetes through an eye exam? 

    A routine eye exam has the potential to detect signs of life-threatening, chronic diseases early on—but only if patients make sure to keep going in regularly.

    Often the early stages of diabetic eye disease have no noticeable symptoms. Fortunately, with regular eye examinations, your eye doctor can be the first to detect the warning signs that point to diabetes and other diabetes-related eye problems. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC) shows 30.3 million people have diabetes in the U.S., however, roughly 8.1 million people are walking around undiagnosed, untreated, and unmonitored. The great news is, detecting changes in your eyes early can give you a better chance at preventing damage through early treatment and management. According to CDC, about 90 percent of diabetes-related vision loss can be prevented.

    How exactly do eye doctors spot signs of diabetes before patients can tell they have it?

    By dilating the pupils, optometrists have a unique and unobstructed view of the tiny, fragile blood vessels that feed the retina on the back of the eye. Diabetes causes spikes in blood sugar that weaken and damage blood vessels over time, a symptom that often shows up first in the swelling, leaking, and bleeding of capillaries in the retina. The damage accumulates over time and can lead to loss of vision.

    Those miniscule but significant changes can be detected in a noninvasive eye exam years before other signs of diabetes finally drive someone to see a doctor, by which time the disease can be advanced and treatment options much more limited (and expensive).

    Even in patients already diagnosed with diabetes, annual eye exams are enormously important to preventing blindness. As the American Diabetic Association website notes, the sooner diabetic retinopathy is diagnosed, the more likely treatment will be successful. “Retinopathy in the advanced stages is one of the leading causes of preventable blindness,” explains Dr. Justin Bazan, a VSP Network Eye Doctor and medical advisor to The Vision Council. “And that is an important term. ‘Preventable’ means that if you had tighter control of the disease you wouldn’t end up with total vision loss.”

    Patients are more likely to visit an optometrist than their primary care doctor, since eye exams are relatively brief and non-invasive. “When people have vision benefits, they want to use them. It’s one of the most utilized health benefits,” explains Bazan. “People should go to the eye doctor every year to make sure everything is in good shape. “There’s a close connection between ocular health and general health. Our eyes are windows to our entire vascular and nervous system.”

    So, make that all-important appointment with your VSP Premier Program Provider today.

    Make your vision health a priority. If you haven’t already, take advantage of your COSE member benefit and opt-in to VSP Vision Insurance. Contact your COSE sales representative or broker for more info.

  • Email
  • Next up: How COSE Members Save Money with a Medical Mutual Health Savings Account
  • More in HR
  • How COSE Members Save Money with a Medical Mutual Health Savings Account

    As an employer, you want to provide quality health insurance packages to your employees that don’t break the bank. Medical expenses such as deductibles, prescriptions and coinsurance can add up quickly and be quite costly even for individuals and families in good health. A Medical Mutual Health Savings account (HSA) paired with an HSA-compatible health benefit could be a good solution. This option provides your employees with access to an account that will help them prepare and save on both expected and unexpected medical costs. HSAs allow for your employees to deposit money, spend it on qualified medical expenses and invest their HSA balances for triple tax benefits.  

    Whether you’re enrolled in the COSE Multiple Employer Welfare Arrangement (MEWA) or an Affordable Care Act (ACA) plan, offering a tax-advantaged savings account specifically for your employees’ medical needs could increase your employee satisfaction and retention without any additional charge to you.

    Once you request a Medical Mutual HSA account for your organization, your employees can enjoy the following benefits:

    1. Simplified employee enrollment process – Once your employees are enrolled in their HSA-compatible health plan, they can easily open their HSA through My Health Plan, our secure member website. 

    2. Medical Mutual HSA debit card – Upon the account being opened, a Medical Mutual debit card will be mailed to your employee which connects them to any money that has been deposited into their HSA account. This provides a convenient way for employees to pay for qualified medical expenses, such as doctors’ visits, prescriptions and more.  Once balances exceed $1,000, employees will have the option to invest their HSA balances.

    3. Full access 24/7 – No matter what time of day, employees have online access to their HSA account and health benefits through My Health Plan. After logging in, they’ll be able to track HSA and investment balances, pay for qualified medical expenses, report/reissue a lost or stolen debit card and manage investments.  As an added convenience, employees can also use our app, AccountLink, to manage their HSA account. 

    4. Local Customer Care support – By linking our healthcare benefits and our HSA, your employees can get help from our local Customer Care team trained to answer product questions with just one call.

    5. Employer contribution opportunities – As an employer, you can choose to set up a program where you match employee contributions or reward employees for wellness activities by depositing a set dollar amount to their HSA account. This incentive could help increase contentment among your employees and promote healthy behaviors. 

    For more information on Medical Mutual HSA account options, contact your broker or your Medical Mutual Sales representative.  

  • Email
  • Next up: How Employment Brand Marketing can Boost Your Business
  • More in HR
  • How Employment Brand Marketing can Boost Your Business

    Just as you promote your services to your ideal client, employment brand marketing can help you find your ideal employees. Use this checklist to find the right employee for you.


    How has your company fared throughout the pandemic? Are you struggling perhaps with sales, networking, or building your perfect team of employees? Are you back to where you were pre-pandemic—or will you ever be?

    All over the world, people have had to make some choices. As a business owner, you have a lot going on, and if you are like me, making choices during the onset of the pandemic, such as whether to lay off staff or pivot your business focus, were difficult and impactful.

    At Zephyr, we took things one day at a time, stayed connected as a team, and did as much “business as usual” as we reasonably could. We are happy to report that business is picking up again, and there is light at the end of the tunnel. We hope the same is for you or that it will be very soon!

    As the leader of this incredible company, I tried my hardest to use that downtime wisely, making good decisions for today and for the near future. And that experience really taught me a lot—and I believe has better prepared me to handle a future crisis should it come our way.

    As my esteemed colleague, Dr. Sabrina Staring, recently wrote, “What I want you to understand is we want to avoid the survival traps. The survival trap is where we make a short-term decision that gets us through today or next week or the next two months. But that can actually take us very far off course from our vision.”

    I couldn’t agree more! It’s not enough to just survive a crisis, but rather use it as an opportunity to thrive. Whatever the crisis, it will end—and what do you want your company to look like when you come out on the other side? The sooner you get out of crisis mode, the sooner you will discover opportunity and innovation.

    Whether you are still experiencing a slower time for your business, or you have regular slower times such as during the summer, around the holidays or whatever your “off-season” is, it is an excellent time for you to work ON your business. We at Zephyr, suggest learning about Employment Brand Marketing and how it can serve you in the long term.

    Employment Brand Marketing (EBM) is a marketing approach and strategy that speaks to and engages with your RIGHT FIT™ employee, whether you are currently hiring or not. Just as you promote your services to your ideal client, here you are marketing to your ideal employee—or as we call them, your RIGHT FIT™ Employee.

    RELATED: What is a RIGHT FIT ™ Employee?

    When unemployment is low, EBM is beneficial to help employers stand out. When unemployment is high, it helps narrow the pool to those who are truly a good fit. This will save you valuable time when reviewing hundreds of applicants who will apply to your job.

    Now is an excellent time to develop the strategy and get it launched so that you are ready to find RIGHT FIT™ Employees (RFE) before your competition finds them.

    Check out our EBM checklist to get started:

    Discover your RIGHT FIT™

    • Know your values, immutable laws, mission, vision, and your big WHY
    • Understand and write out your company culture and personality
    • Understand and write out your team’s strengths and weaknesses
    • Write down the common traits and strengths all your current RFEs embody
    • Develop your RFE profile based on all the information you gathered above

    Develop your Strategy

    • Determine where your RIGHT FIT™ Employee hangs out online and which social media channels they frequent
    • Determine the right messaging, what reflects your culture well and speaks to the RFE
    • Create an EBM social media calendar outlining what you will post, when, and where. These posts need to showcase your team and what it is like to work at your organization
    • Determine who on your team will be responsible for posting on social media and hold them accountable
    • Create an Employee Spotlight template that allows you to showcase your employees on social media, in your email marketing, and on your website (how often should you showcase employees? Attempt to have each employee showcased once per year, so adjust the frequency based on the size of your team).
    • Determine other ways you can communicate and market your company as an Employer of Choice. What can you do in your community? Are there sponsorship opportunities, or volunteer opportunities? What about events you can support or be a vendor for? Any high school sports teams you can sponsor? Get creative and add them to your strategy plan.
    • What materials or supplies do you need to implement the strategy plan? Do you need team t-shirts or signs and posters for example?
    • Designate or rotate someone on your team to be the Team Reporter to document your culture, events you attend, the team in action, volunteering, etc. Use video, photography, and content writing
    • Collect all of this information and put it in an Employee Brand Marketing Plan.


    • Develop a professional-grade video for your website that shows your company culture and what it is like to work there. You can also get short snippets and use these for social media posts (like how many brands will have 60, 30 and 15 second ads).

      RELATED: Use Video to Amplify Your Marketing and Drive Results.

    • Create a Careers or About Us page for your website highlighting you as an employer. Include the video mentioned above, along with testimonials from your team, a short and enticing description of what it is like to work there and how you support your team. Add in benefits if you offer them, and anything else that showcases you as an Employer of Choice. Look at other Careers and About Us pages to get ideas.
    • Order any shirts, signs or other supplies you need
    • Add the Employment Brand Marketing process to your annual planning
    • Keep doing the following: Post on chosen social media channels based on your social media calendar but be open to pivoting based on current events; Write and distribute your Employee Spotlight to your website, email marketing, and social media based on your chosen schedule; Schedule and attend any events or volunteer opportunities you identified; Do a quarterly check-up on your EBM plan, what is working, what is not?


    With everything in place you will be ready to hire your RIGHT FIT™ as soon as you hit submit on your next job posting!

    If you would like to learn more, please reach out, we would love to talk about how we can help!


    Erin Longmoon is the CEO of Zephyr Recruiting, which she founded in response to her clients’ needs for help in with building effective and successful teams. Zephyr Recruiting serves the small business community—the mom and pop places that are the backbones of our communities and our economy.

  • Email
  • Next up: How Intellectual Property can Grow and Protect Your Business
  • More in HR
  • How Intellectual Property can Grow and Protect Your Business

    During this COSE webinar, attendees discovered the types of intellectual property and what it takes to obtain protection, as well as strategies for using IP to grow their businesses. Read on for more details and scroll to the bottom to view the full presentation.

    During a recent COSE WebEd Webinar, Mark Guinto, intellectual property attorney at the McDonald Hopkins law firm in Cleveland, gave an overview on intellectual property and how small businesses can leverage IP for success during a presentation titled “How to Use Intellectual Property to Grow and Protect Your Business.”

    Guinto explained how entrepreneurs can strategically protect ideas, brands and assets when it comes to IP, with the ultimate goals of positioning themselves for future success, increasing market share and growing their businesses.

    Types of IP

    You’ve seen Shark Tank, but what do we really mean when discussing intellectual property? There are four different categories to consider when talking about IP.

    Patents protect the overall idea of your invention. For something to be patented, it’s required to be new and useful as deemed so by the United States Patent and Trademark Office upon filing. Bars to patentability might include not filing in time or not being able to prove that it’s novel. Benefits include preventing other companies from using your invention, keeping competitors out of the market, being able to license your invention to other companies, and it also helps you build your patent portfolio.

    Trademarks are your brand identifiers or source identifiers, such as the Nike Swoosh symbol. They are used to identify and distinguish the source of goods or services, and to try to build goodwill and brand awareness.

    Copyrights are rights in the expression of your idea, such as songs, books, articles, software code and advertisements your company creates.

    Trade secrets are any information, practices and know-how you keep within your own company and do not disclose to the world, like the Coca Cola recipe. Perhaps for you it’s how to operate a piece of equipment or coding practices you use.

    Legal Lingo

    In understanding the different types of intellectual property, it’s helpful to be aware of other relevant legal terminology, such as non-disclosure agreements, joint developments and licenses. 

    Non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) are agreements between companies to share proprietary information with each other with restrictions on use of such information. This type of document will most likely define what you can do with the information you receive and what the other party can do with the information you give them.

    Guinto advises that, before talking to a third party, you always look for an NDA. He says it’s important to coordinate with your sales team and reiterate to them to check for an NDA even if it’s a company you’ve been doing business with a long time. When in doubt about whether or not one exists or the details involved in it, be sure to contact legal assistance.

    Joint developments are agreements you create when your company and another company work together on developing a product. The joint development identifies who owns the IP—whether it’s one or both of you.

    Licenses can be granted from one party to another. You can give another company the right to use one of your inventions and they might pay you money in return. Licensing can be limited to a particular field, and royalties might be lump-sum or per unit.

    Action Steps

    There are three necessary action steps that a small business must take when it comes to moving forward with IP protections, according to Guinto.

    Action Step No. 1: Monitor the potential for new protections to determine whether it makes sense to file for protection on your IP.

    Action Step No. 2: Communicate with your engineers and sales team about your overall strategies and objectives for protecting your IP.

    Action Step No. 3: Because IP has a lot of moving parts and since laws can vary by state and country, it is necessary to stay in constant communication with your legal counsel.

    To File or Not to File?

    One particular area where a small business owner might be unsure if it makes sense to seek protection is with software code that their company has written. It’s important to understand that even if you aren’t successful in obtaining a patent, the information regarding your invention is nevertheless put out there to the public. So if you disclose your secret invention in an effort to receive a patent, hopefully you will, in fact, be granted a patent. But in the event you do not receive that sought-after protection, you will still be broadcasting the details of your secret invention.

    Code can and should be copyrighted with a patent office. But, when you’re dealing with code it changes so often that it is not usually cost effective to file for a copyright with each of these changes. Guinto advises his clients to launch major releases and get those covered with copyright, but to not seek it for each small edit.

    Because it costs money to get a trademark, you have to figure out if there’s going to be money in filing for a trademark. He advises that it might be a better idea to get protection for a family of products instead of for each individual product. Check out the full broadcast of this webinar by scrolling down past the disclaimer below.

    Disclaimer: The information provided in this seminar is general in nature, and may not apply to a specific factual or legal circumstance. An attorney and client relationship should not be implied simply by attending this seminar. Nothing in this seminar is intended to substitute for the advice of an attorney. Therefore, if you require legal advice, please consult with a competent attorney licensed to practice in your jurisdiction. The choice of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely upon advertisements. McDonald Hopkins invites you to contact the firm and welcomes your calls, letters and electronic mail. Contacting the firm or attending this seminar does not create an attorney-client relationship. Past results afford no guarantee of future results and every case is different and must be judged on its own merits.

  • Email
  • Next up: How Small Businesses can Resolve Disputes Without Litigating
  • More in HR
  • How Small Businesses can Resolve Disputes Without Litigating

    All businesses will have an occasional dispute with a vendor, customer or other stakeholder. This is why businesses of all sizes should be interested in alternate dispute resolution, with an emphasis on mediation and, to a lesser extent, arbitration.

    In a recent COSE webinar, McCarthy, Lebit, Crystal & Liffman's David Schaefer explained why that is the case. Watch the recording below:


  • Email
  • More in HR