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Last  week I spent several days interviewing security candidates in the mid west for a large security initiative.  They don’t teach interviewing in school, but they should.  It’s not easy to successfully move through the interviewing process, but you would think a sales person would be the most qualified person to do it.  Who else has experience meeting with senior managers, trying to sell them on a concept?  That really is what an interview is all about….some tips for those of you who might be changing places in the next year:

  • Don’t show up with a resume that uses language you don’t understand!  This should be common sense…if you’re in sales, certainly you’ve been called on the carpet at some point in your career.  When someone tells me they have sold HIPAA solutions, I’m going to stop them and ask what HIPAA is…I’ll also want to know if they can spell it.  Most of the time they can’t.  If you have TLAs on your resume, know what they stand for and be able to define them.
  • If you get asked to explain something on the white board – use the white board.  In a sales presentation, would you tell the decision maker in the room, “I’m not good at writing on the white board?”  Of course not, so don’t do it in an interview.  And when you get up there – definitely don’t say, “I’m not good at writing on the white board.”  Sales people should be expert presenters and exceptional on a white board.
  • If you were selling, you would have questions.  Showing up to an interview without good questions shows a lack of preparation.  It’s sales 101.  The person who doesn’t have any questions looks dumb. Why would a successful person move to a new company, “No questions asked?”
  • What about lying?  Would you lie to a customer?  If you would, I wouldn’t hire you – and no one should. Padding your resume with great sounding exaggerations is not a good idea.  Don’t do it.  If asked something you don’t know, simply say, “I don’t know but I can find out.”  Again, if you already have it on your resume, you should know all about it.  But you can’t be expected to know everything.
  • If you know the company you are calling on, or the area of focus for this position is collaboration, or security, or cloud – it would make sense to read up on these things if you’re not already an expert.  I’m not suggesting you lie and pretend to know more than you do, but in an area you hope to move into, look like you’re actually working to get there. The hiring manager should not have to push you in that direction.
  • In a sales scenario, a story is a powerful way to demonstrate to a client how your solution has helped others just like them.  It makes sense that you would show up to an interview with the same.
  • Prepare.  If you know your interviewer has written a book, you should read it. But at least know what’s on their website.  Show that you  cared before showing up.
  • Be on time.
  • Don’t show up with documents that belong to your current employer…but do be able to tell about what you’ve accomplished.  I appreciate one recent candidate who said, when asked if he has some written examples, “Everything I have belongs to my employer, so I was not able to bring it.”  Don’t bring other people’s work to show me – it will be obvious when I start asking you about it.

© 2013, David Stelzl


This week I am up in Chicago working with a company to build differentiation and competitive advantage – it’s one of the four things buyers buy (something I wrote extensively about in my book, From Vendor to Adviser).  Where is the growth opportunity?

From the Wall Street Journal this morning:

“Cybersecurity and Big Data are the dynamic duo of tech jobs. The demand for cybersecurity experts is growing at 12 times the overall job market, making it one of the most highly sought-after fields in the country, according to a report by Burning Glass International Inc., a Boston-based company that uses artificial intelligence to match jobs and job seekers. “Few job categories can match the explosive growth in demand for cyber security talent,” Burning Glass CEO Matthew Sigelman told CIO Journal in an email. “One of those may be Big Data, with demand for certain big data skills up 122% in the past year alone.” The growth in demand for cyber security expertise is closely related to the growth in demand for Big Data skills. “After all, as companies are focusing more and more on Big Data and the value that’s accrued within their customer databases, not surprisingly they have also come to focus more attention on managing the risks and the vulnerabilities,” he said.”

The security market is growing…but just saying security isn’t enough.  Technology trends that revolve are big data, mobility and BYOD, and virtualization / cloud technologies are important applications of security.  I hear people saying things like, “I don’t recommend cloud – it’s not secure.”  Our opinion on this doesn’t really matter.  What does matter is, companies are heading this direction and need someone to help them be as secure as possible.

There are thousands of sales people out there selling general technology products.  If you want to be relevant in the coming decade, specialization is needed.  This goes for both companies and their sales teams.

P.S. Really enjoying the snow storm in Chicago this week!

© 2013, David Stelzl

Hiring great people – next week I will be speaking to business leaders in Chicago on the subject of hiring great people, along with a few words on when to call it quits.  While preparing, I was going through hundreds of interviews I have conducted with college graduates, sales people, technical people, and those I interview now through my mentor program.  So much of an interviewer’s time is spent on analyzing skills (which are important), yet most of the firing I see, happens as a result of character flaws.

The skill set is important, but when I think of the superstars I’ve hired, (and perhaps some of you are reading this right now,) it was a character trait that drove them to excellence, whether they had the skills or not.  One hiring decision comes to mind; a person who had very little in the way of technical expertise, but a strong determination to learn and excel.  I hired him as an entry level SE, but within a year (just 12 months) his billable revenues exceeded every other engineer on the team (and the clients he was serving were extremely happy).  His appetite for learning was so great, he pursued the certifications, learned how to sell and manage, and went on to run a very successful technology company after working with me for over five years.

I remember another hire I was involved with.  He started out as an entry level technician, but he was ready to do whatever was required to find new business, with aspirations of becoming a great seller.  He was eager to learn and to master the art of selling.  While his eagerness lacked some of the skills and understanding, he was willing to read the books, listen to instruction, attend some classes, and practice he presentation skills. Today he closes most of the business his company sells.  I can honestly say, he is an excellent sales person, and it didn’t take him years to master selling.

On the other hand, I think of many who road upon their certifications, but refused to work as team members.  Some didn’t show up to meet their commitments, others were slack with their sales efforts, and many just couldn’t work alongside their peers.  In the case of great character, there is always a chance to help that person get what they need or move to a position they can master, if their current job isn’t a fit.  But with those who just can’t get along; can’t acknowledge authority, or who are just too lazy to get moving in the morning, their just isn’t much hope.  Character isn’t something you are just born with.  It might have a lot to do with your upbringing, but it’s never too late to start building character.  For a list of essential character traits to look for in your next hire – check out the section on character in my latest book, From Vendor to Adviser.  The adviser must have great character if they are to win.

© 2012, David Stelzl

Preparing to speak to over a thousand educators this morning in Sacramento, CA on building an Entrepreneurial mindset…one quote stands out that should make us all think twice about how we approach professional development as well as the educational development of the next generation:

Andrew Carnegie, in the Early 1900s, wrote (concerning the development of our educational institutions here in the US…)

“We need compliant workers…willing to work for less than the value their productivity creates… …The best way is to build an educational industry designed to teach workers just enough to get them to cooperate.”    No wonder it’s so hard to hire good people!

© 2011, David Stelzl

Jim Collins tells us in his book, “Good to Great”, that successful business planners start by assembling a top-notch team, and then figure out what they will actually do for business.  The people matter, and the best offerings will fail without great people.  This Friday at 11:30 I will be addressing this critical issue – after overseeing hundreds of interviews I have put together what I think will be invaluable insights on how to build your hiring process, read between the lines on resumes, and ask questions that will reveal weaknesses you need to know about before making an offer.  Here are some points I plan to cover in detail:

  1. Why it is so hard to find great people
  2. Where to look
  3. How to discern between great people and liars
  4. How to measure character and evaluate skills, especially with sales people
  5. How to build a hiring team that will reduce the chances of making a mistake
  6. How to figure out quickly if this person will work
  7. What to do if things are heading for disaster

Whether you attend or not, you need to know; 70% of people surveyed in one study I read agreed that they would lie on their resume and in their interview to get a job.  The cost of interviewing and bringing someone on is high…making a mistake can devastate existing client relationships, cost the company as ramp-up money is paid from the bottom line, and infect your team with cancerous people.  And it’s getting worse….you’d think there are more great people to hire given the economy.  Not true.  There are more people who have been cut for lack of performance as financial pressures mount.  This has put more people on the street, and made it more difficult to find the great people you need to hire. Don’t miss this!

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Word to the Wise

March 12, 2010 — Leave a comment

Most people are hired for their outstanding representation of skills and experience (whether they are real or not)…most are fired for reasons of poor character.  Work hard and demonstrate outstanding character today!

© David Stelzl 2010

Great news!  The 2010 teleseminar series has been posted online at – and I have some very steep discounts for people who would like to sign up for the year (10 highly focused, content rich sessions starting March 2010).  I am also sending a FREE Data@Risk book to the first 10 people registered…discounts apply through January.

March 19 – Irresistible Justification
Assessments can be one of the most compelling forms of justification when used correctly. In this session, I’ll be showing you how to use assessments (both technical and business level/complementary and fee based) to accelerate your sales cycle for projects and managed service deals!

April 16 – Strategies for Hiring Great People
In the past 20 years I have hired hundreds of people and coached many in the hiring process. I’ll show you how to differentiate good candidates from great candidates and how to know before hiring, who is worth their wages. Obviously this is meant for managers, however others may find this beneficial in discovering what makes for a great interview.

May 14 – Balancing Work and Family
Raising seven children and home schooling, while running a business is no easy task. Let’s face it, when things at home are stressed, the burden carries over to your work, and affects your performance. Put things into balance and you’ll find greater success. I’ll share with you some of the secrets of making this all work.

June 18 – Success through Character
Character matters! Whether you’re looking for personal success or building a team, character can make or break you. In fact, it would be hard to find a personnel problem that is not character related. Great character is at the root of great success, so whether you sell, implement, or run and manage a company of division, this may be the most important topic I cover in 2010.

July 16 – Stop wasting time,
There are lot’s of great books on time management, but who has time to read them? We’ll take a look at planning your day, focusing your time and energy, techniques for refreshment, and how to keep up with everything you have going on!

August 20 – Keys to Great Sales Management
If you used to sell or if you own a business, you may suddenly be called on to manage sales. It’s a hard job to keep sales people motivated, rewarded, and accountable. We’ll discuss compensation, motivation, hiring, managing, and a host of things that will help any manager succeed as they oversee sales. If you’re in sales, please join us to gain a better understanding of what makes a great employee.

September 17 – Personal Branding and Marketing
Marketing and branding are quickly changing. Learn what to stop doing, and where to begin. Use of social media, article servers, email, and effective messaging that will change the way people view you and your company.

October 15 – Winning Proposals
Deals don’t close simply by a great proposal, however a deal can go down quickly when a proposal is poorly structured and presented. Learn both what it takes in writing as well as in presentation to make a great proposal that will boost your sales.

November 19 – Financial Stability through Recurring Revenue
In our present economy, recurring revenue may be your only hope. Whether you already have it or are building it, I’ll show you how to keep it growing. This is a critical part of your companies success in the years to come.

December 17 – Vendor to Adviser
If you’ve not made the transition, be assured they are calling you a vendor behind your back. We’ll look at moving past gate keepers and blockers, demonstrating value in board rooms, and moving to a consultative selling model.

Go to  and select the appropriate price in the drop down box for 2010!