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Hiring, Compensation and Qualification

Dave Stein)

The Gap of Dunloe (Photo: Dave Stein)

I’ll be headed back to Ireland next month to facilitate two one-day workshops as part of the CEO Series for the Dublin Institute of Technology and Enterprise Ireland’s International Selling Programme.  I’ll be working with 60 CEOs and managing directors over the two days.

The topics require a bit of explanation.  Each is a critical capability for a CEO of a small to mid-size company.

In 2002 I was hired to deliver a speech to 300 technology executives in Dublin.  The subject was qualification.  The person who hired me was an executive at Enterprise Ireland—the Irish government agency responsible for the development and promotion of the indigenous business sector. He told me that one of the biggest challenges for CEOs of Irish companies was to NOT get on a plane to America every time their phone rang with an inquiry from a large U.S. corporation. (This executive shared with me that I was hired for this speech because I was the only one of several well-known sales experts that actually qualified him before agreeing to meet with him face-to-face.)  He told me that the lack of qualification was an epidemic.  Fortunately that situation has improved considerably over the last six years.  With that being said, even CEOs need to be able to prioritize their companies’ portfolios of business opportunities, especially in mid- to smaller-size companies.

Hiring of sales executives is critical as well.  Too many Irish companies, in their quest to expand to the U.S. and other countries, hired what seemed to be a strong salesperson/manager.  Many of them didn’t work out.  This has been a significant problem.  Typical: A Dublin-based telecomms company hires a person to commence operations the U.S.  Six months later, after the person has been fired, the company is at least €100k poorer, has lost a year in the international business development component of their business plan, and has probably damaged their reputation for years to come.  Again, I can report real improvement on this front as well.  CEOs in general, have become more discerning, patient, and unwilling to repeat the mistakes of the past.

Back in 2003 I asked a room full of Irish CEOs if they would feel comfortable writing a check to a salesperson for €1 million.  (It’s a standard, unscientific test I give to get a sense of how CEOs measure the importance of the sales function within their organizations.)  I was almost ejected from the room.  The Irish business community then looked at selling very differently than we do here in the U.S.  I asked the same question to last year’s group.  Only one out of 25 CEOs had a problem with it.  More progress.

I’m delighted to be on the faculty of the Dublin Institute of Technology and thoroughly enjoy my professional and personal relationships with my relatively new and growing network of Irish business associates.  I was thrilled when the former New York Consul General for Ireland, with that appealing Irish sense of humor, introduced me to the Irish Minister of Education as “Dave O’Steen.”

What’s really fun is to see these CEOs and the sales executives that work for them, hungry for knowledge, exceedingly coachable, and genuinely passionate about growing their businesses internationally.

If you have an opportunity to buy from, or do business with, an Irish company, please share your experience with me.  I’m really interested, and they’d really like the feedback.


One Response

  1. Dave,

    Great story about the €1 million check, I must have run into the same business mentality earlier this year.

    Our UK division was struggling and needed leadership plus experience. I had both and I had been looking for a new challenge so I offered to help… after some thought they asked me to put a proposal together.

    In the end they decided that it was less expensive to hire two more reps instead of one out-of-country BDM.


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