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The Counterintuitive Hiring Tactic I Finally Used (To Surprising Success)

Counterintuitive hiring tactic

Here is the holy grail of hiring marketing or business development staff:

“Finding enthusiastic, dedicated, intelligent, hard working, and strategic thinking staff who have the ability, and are willing to listen/learn.”


But hiring is a crapshoot. I could argue that the whole hiring process in our country is broken.

Luckily, I’ve been taught a somewhat counter-intuitive hiring method that has paid huge dividends for me. 

I’m going to explain it to you. But first, let me rant about hiring marketing and business development staff.

Our Tragically Broken Hiring System

Everyone coming in to interview has been taught to portray the best version of themselves. There are countless articles that teach candidates how to “play the game” and get hired.

On the other side, those of us who hire seem to fall into three categories: 

A. Risk adverse people looking for potential “red flags.” I’ve fallen into this category in the past.

B. People who entirely “trust their gut.”

C. People who employ arbitrary hiring “rules of thumb,” that may or may not be logical.

There are countless articles out there for us as well. They often suggest “hiring for personality and training for skills.” Just imagine all the unemployed curmudgeons out there!

I can’t tell you how many stories I’ve heard of people getting hired for jobs based on a crazy premise.

“Yeah, it was between a glowing personality with no skills or experience and an almost arrogantly confident person with skills coming out their shoes. We went with the glowing personality.”

What?!?! And people are somehow shocked when this ends disastrously.

I feel bad for candidates, the only way to get hired seems to be “playing the game” and hoping the cards land in your favor.

Maybe Don’t Take This Approach To Interviewing

This issue is top of mind when I’m interviewing candidates.

I can’t stand the “fakeness” I experience from candidates. 

I’ve had candidates claim they’ve successfully turned around an engineering firm’s fortunes and “innovated themselves” out of a job…in less than a year.  Come on now!

I’ve had to stop candidates to tell them it’s OK to “cut the BS.”

I’ve told Ivy-League-educated candidates they would have to “relearn” how to write. 

And those are the people who aren’t “spooked off” by my job ads.

My boss swears I’m a jerk in these interviews. Others say I’m “too honest.”

But shouldn’t the interviewing process be an honest and forthright exchange? The hiring “game” makes that difficult if not impossible.

The Klabunde Method

About a year ago, we were hiring a new business development manager. I was lamenting about the process with my friend, Tim Klabunde.

I explained that we had narrowed it down to two candidates: One with more relevant experience and another who was greener but I perceived to have tremendous long-term potential.

Our little hiring committee was struggling with this decision, almost gridlocked.

Tim, who is at a much larger firm, explained he had hired nine marketers in the last couple years. And he had come up with a method that predicted the best hire 90% of the time.

What was this Klabunde Method?

Step One: Shortlist on experience and skills

Step Two: Hire the candidate with the most positive outlook

Don’t get confused. Tim wasn’t talking about hiring the person with the “best personality” or “most likable.” 

He was not using personality as a selection factor. He was focusing in on the candidates’ outlook. It’s a nuanced, but important difference.

His reasoning was this. The job changes from day to day. One day you’re working on something creative and fulfilling. But the next day you might be dealing with some arduous task or situation you’ll probably hate.

People without a high degree of positivity don’t thrive in that environment.

And when I thought about it, it made a lot of sense. I brought this tactic back to my committee and solidified my choice.

The Klabunde Method Results

You can’t argue with results. It’s been almost a year. Our new business developer is getting along great with the team, has brought in new clients, is absorbing an outrageous amount of information, and currently maintains a 90%+ success rate with proposals.

The Bottom Line

I’m now a believer in the Klabunde Method. If you are looking to hire marketing or business development staff, it’s certainly worth a try.

Now It’s Your Turn

Got a hiring or interviewing story that will make us cringe? Share your story in the comments.

What Should Your Presentation Be On?

What should your presentation be on

Three times in one day. 

“Matt, what should my presentation be on?”

Three times in one day, a different person asked me that question.

Let’s be honest, it’s a sad state of affairs for presentations these days. Whether it’s at a conference, local event, or on a webinar…

…it’s the same tired topics over and over again. 

If I hear another presentation on the basics of BIM, IPD, Lean Construction, or how social media is the bee’s knees…I’m gonna puke. 

Bring me a bucket!

So, how do you make sure your presentation doesn’t put someone to sleep or make them toss their cookies? 

Here’s what you do. You never ask the question, “What should my presentation be on?”

No, instead you use the “Big Win” strategy.

The Big Win Strategy

What you want to present on is irrelevant. 

Trust me, I could put together a 30-minute webinar on why Shenmue is the greatest video game ever made or why Ringo Star is actually an amazing drummer

But how does that improve YOUR life? How is that going to produce a Big Win for you?

What you want to present is irrelevant. What you feel people should know is irrelevant. Heck, what the Committee wants you to present on is irrelevant. 

Here’s what’s relevant…

…who is your audience and how can you help them easily deliver a Big Win?

What’s A Big Win?

Let’s say you sit through a presentation on the basics of Twitter. Maybe afterward you understand Twitter. Maybe you can even set up a Twitter account.

Is that going to have a dramatic effect on your life or business? Is your boss going to bust in your office and scream, “Turn off Twitter, we can’t handle all the new clients its bringing in!!!”

If you think that’s going to happen, you’re smoking crack. I’m not talking about cheap crack. I’m talking high-grade crack!

Big Wins change your results in a significant way. 

Here’s an example, I was recently involved in putting a presentation together for contracting officers at the US Department of Veterans Affairs. It’s called, “How To Avoid Overpaying For Construction Delays: What Every CO Needs To Know.”

It provides a tool to help contracting officers (CO) decide how and what to pay a contractor when construction delays occur. That may mean nothing to you, but for them that’s a Big Win.

In fact, one of the COs said it was the best job training he ever received.

Who Is The Audience?

Your presentation is for the benefit of the audience. 

The mistake many people make is thinking, “How do I customize my topic to this audience?”

They’ve got it completely backward. You get your topic from the audience. It’s not about education. It’s about solving their challenges, giving them an advantage, and making their life easier.

If your topic does not come from those things, it’s not going to be great. It’s not going to be memorable. 

Your topic has to be “birthed” from your audience, not you. And for this to occur, you have to know your audience, you have to listen to them, and you’ll need to ask them questions. You have to truly care about them and want to help them.

How Can I Help Them Easily Deliver A Big Win?

Understanding your audience is not enough. Your presentation must help them easily deliver a Big Win. 

A Big Win for an architect might not be a Big Win for a facility owner. A Big Win for a Marketing Coordinator might be meaningless to a CEO and vice versa.

You need to take your audience from Point A (where they are now) to Point B (where they want to be). You need to lead them with actionable steps they have the authority and ability to execute. 

So many presentations I’ve seen are completely devoid of actionable steps the audience can take. 

For example, it may be interesting to learn what a $20,000 per year marketing automation system could do for your 15-person firm. But if you don’t have the ability or authority to purchase such a tool, the presenter is just wasting your time. 

That’s not a Big Win for you. You, as the person sitting through the presentation, might even find it frustrating.

In contrast, one of my most popular webinars is, “How To Get Meetings With The Most Unreachable Clients.” So many people come up to me to tell me how they used my tactics to get a meeting with someone who previously wouldn’t return their calls.

If you are just starting out in business development, getting a meeting with a hard-to-reach client is a Big Win. Getting a response from someone who hasn’t been responding…Big Win.

(Note: I’ll be presenting that again to the public in January 2018 for the Association of Proposal Management Professionals Liberty Chapter and free for the Society of Design Administrator members on August 24th)

Your presentation needs a specific outcome and actionable steps to get there. And that outcome needs to get your audience to a Big Win.

Another example is my proposal workshop. In the workshop, proposal professionals play client for the day. I have them evaluate real proposals and pick a winner. It’s always an eye-opening experience for those involved.

(Note: I mostly do this workshop for corporate clients. But you can attend my proposal workshop this month in Austin, TX hosted by SMPS Austin. And if you can’t make it to Austin, I’m presenting a portion of it as a free webinar for APMP.)

Using The Big Win Strategy To Build Your Presentation 

Most likely, you’ll have to flip your approach to presentations upside down. Once you understand what your audience is up against and commit yourself to helping them deliver Big Wins…

…you’ll never need to spend your time searching for a topic again.

Now it’s your turn 

What’s your biggest presentation tip or one you’ve heard that you think you should share?

Share it in the comments.

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