Posts belonging to Category Black Entreprenuers



Are You Tempted to Cheat?

Are you ever tempted to cheat?  Do you know some of your sales associates who have “went out of bounds” in this profession where they may be convinced that no one is watching?  Never give in to the temptation!

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In the past I worked for a sales organization that believed in having sprint contests as well as sales incentives.  It was the nature of the beast to have a contest that had incentive trips, as many organizations have, as well as to have a contest to introduce, or spur the sales of slower moving products.

But this contest was different; it involved a sprint contest that would ‘pay’ on the basis of activity and not actual sales of the product.  In other words, you could get paid on the basis of working on something as opposed to the success of selling it.  Quite strange that an organization would be so desperate to get its sales professionals to work on a new product that they pay on the basis of working on it as opposed to the norm of selling the product.

Here is what I witnessed:

Sales reps in our office were buzzing as they talked about this new ‘program’ that they would be paid to deliver quotations on a new retirement product for small businesses and entrepreneurs.  You got paid for selling it, and if you did not sell it, you got paid in prizes and merchandise for getting to business owners to sit down and discuss it with you even if you did not sell it.  What could be better than that?

The unintended consequence of the contest was that unscrupulous sales professionals could easily augment their real activity with false activity in order to walk with some valuable prizes. As a matter of fact they could totally fabricate enough activity to walk away with stereos, televisions, sporting equipment, and gift certificates.  And that is just what happened.

The sales staff was tempted to ‘pad’ activity and those without morals did just that and were rewarded with a bounty of electronics and other items.  As a sales manager and a manager of sales managers for that same organization later in my career, it was clearly the example for what program never to undertake again.

Play Fair… Everywhere!

“I would prefer even to fail with honor than to win by cheating.”
Sophocles

Yes, companies can decide what programs not to implement again, but the bigger story here is not that there was a ‘dumb’ program; it is that when the moment availed itself, these sales professionals ‘cheated’ for trinkets.

They took the opportunity to ‘fudge’ their activity sheets for some items that they could already afford!  That is the problem with cheating.  Sales professionals work by a system, and the system can be ‘gamed’.   Even more, in most cases no one is watching many of the activities.

Mr. or Mrs. Clean

The impression that you will want to leave on your employer will be based on a squeaky clean image, which negates any perception that you might cheat.  The perception that you may cheat is as damaging as cheating itself.  You need to be Mr. or Mrs. Clean.  I have had this conversation with Black sales professionals on numerous occasions while mentoring.

With that in mind, you should note that if I were your sales manager, perception of your propensity to cheat would be based on some important points:

  • If you will cheat your fellow sales professional or co-employee, you will cheat me!
  • If you will cheat the IRS you will cheat me!
  • If you will cheat on your wife, you will cheat me!

Cheating obviously occurs in more than the workplace.  In the areas that are above we must consider the possibility that if it is known you violated the truth, you can possibly do it to your employer.  You may have no intent to do it to your employer, but the perception that you could do it is what can damage you.

Your personal life is yours, but says a lot about you.  It helps you establish your credibility (Read This - BSJ 4/16– Credibility …You Can’t Buy it, You’ve Got to Earn It!) as well as build a positive perception of yourself as I stated BSJ 4/9/2012 Build a Positive Perception.

Cheating in the workplace includes, but is not limited to the following:

  • Expense management
  • Handling of company property (cars, computers, etc.)
  • Your time management (while you are supposed to be working)
  • Your sales prospect data

Protect you future and your career.  Put your energy into maintaining credibility and winning the right way.  Remember, it is always easier to tell the truth! (Read it in BSJ 6/30/2011 Telling the Truth…It Works Wonders for a Relationship).

Be the Best.

I welcome your comments. Contact me at michael.parker@blacksalesjournal.com.

Race and Your Resume Part II – The Three P’s

We began to delve into this important issue in the post last week, and you can access it below this post.  We took a look at your most important job hunting tool and how you might want to “frame” yourself in your quest for a job.  This post will look at the forces that make a difference during the job search.

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The Ever-present 3Ps (Racial Perceptions, Racial Preferences, and Racial Prejudices) and Your Job Search!

These three influences define the environment for all sales professionals, and even more so for Black sales professionals as it represents the theater that must succeed in before getting gainful employment.

During the job search, everything revolves around your ability to get an interview.  Your job search can be difficult, made so by the large number of candidates that are applying and the fact that the resume reviewers (whether hiring managers or human resource professionals) have to make some quick decisions about who makes it to the next level because of the volume of applicants. In the last post we called the categories the A, B, C, & D (Discard) stacks, which is relevant whether it is paper or electronic applications through and applicant management system.

I call these imposing factors The 3Ps: Racial Perceptions, Racial Preferences, and Racial Prejudices! They make a sales job difficult.  Knowledge of them will serve you well.  Success and the reduction of frustration in your job hunt is dependent on an understanding these.

The 3Ps can have an effect, and sometimes an insidious effect, on the hiring process.  It can happen without the perpetrator even really thinking about it.

A brief definition of the 3Ps is as follows:

Racial Perceptions - are hard to change, and deep rooted.  They can come from many sources.  A person’s life experiences, the media, parents, friends, and the knowledge and ignorance of interaction or lack of interaction all form perceptions.  Perceptions are prevalent in all racial and ethnic groups.  We all have them; it is what we do with them that make all of the difference.

Racial Preferences - These are powerful.  They are not always meant to be deleterious to a particular racial group, yet have that effect when they are applied as the opportunity for fairness and equity can be  missed.  The hiring manager’s desire of whom they want to work with may be directly related to their personal relationship comfort.  Some preference may come from perceptions, and some from prejudice, but the net result is the same:  The sales professional who is capable may not be interviewed because they don’t quickly meet the preference of the selector.  Often it is because of a reluctance to do business with someone who is decidedly different than they are. It is no difference for any professional. Do you have any preferences? I will bet you do!

Racial Prejudice - renders any hiring situation difficult, if not impossible.  Racial prejudice does change the landscape.  You probably won’t change this attitude as you can do with racial perceptions and racial preference, and you may be able to spend your time better elsewhere.  If a buyer is prejudiced, the narrow-mindedness and patent unfairness will reduce, or destroy your chances of having a successful employment relationship, or keep it very short lived.

Back to These Stacks of Resumes as Discussed in Part I

Now, the simple fact is that any one of the 3Ps can change which stack your resume ends up in.  So at the risk of sounding over simplistic when it is to your advantage you should willingly disclose your race.  When you are in doubt, you should give consideration to ‘scrubbing’ your resume of racial indicators.  An employer will very possibly not be checking “LinkedIn” in the first stages, as there are too many candidates.

There are some points that you should note about resumes whether in stacks, or filed electronically in Applicant Management Systems that are important.  You can be the beneficiary in either of the following situations:

  • Many organizations have matured to the point that professional HR representatives do the things necessary to assure that there is diversity in the candidate pool. They are your assets in this situation.
  • Many employers purposely attempt to correct deficiencies in their workforce and sales force diversity with proactive hiring procedures in which they look for qualified minority candidates.

Make your resume the “teaser” that it should be. It will get you past the door, and into the mix. Most larger or more sophisticated organizations have human resource professionals who help to assure fairness.

Consider the next couple of points as a suggestion:

  • Include a tastefully done “head and shoulder” shot in your LinkedIn profile.  No screen shots form your computer, pay a few dollars if you don’t have one already.
  • Be judicious in your inclusion of information, but you may not need to “scrub” your resume.
  • Include positions of leadership for social organizations, but you might consider avoiding any controversial ones.  Include activities that have a leadership or business angle.  All else is just information.

My Personal Opinion

I think that you might already have a good idea that I have confidence in HR professionals.  For the most part they are serious minded about inclusion, diversity, and fairness in the process.  Often in the hiring process they are the “neck that turns the head” for the manager so the process does work.  They present diverse candidate pools and do their best to “watch” the process.

I believe that many managers have some preferences because they are human.  They constantly need to “true-up” these preferences with requisite fairness. When you exercise preferences and don’t balance it with fairness, you discriminate.  Exercising Racial Preference is discrimination.  Fairness and equity is what managment should be striving for.

As managers we have to avoid thinking of stereotypical sales professionals and sales personalities.  We need to be open to interviewing candidates of all races and backgrounds.  In the end, the decision on a candidate in good organizations is a decision process that includes HR, a hiring manager, and at the very least, that hiring manager’s manager.

Let me know what you think write me at Michael.parker@BlackSalesJournal.com.