Interview with C. Lee Smith; How to Hire by Using Science and Technology

Handshaking photo by @cytonn_photography Cytonn Photography on Unsplash
Photo by @cytonn_photography Cytonn Photography on Unsplash

By Lauren Keyson and Sarah Grieco

C. Lee Smith is the President and CEO of SalesFuel whose mission is to help sellers change the way they sell and help managers change the way they manage. He does this by leveraging critical insights that enable clients to acquire, develop and retain their best employees and customers. SalesFuel just released new game-changing technology called TeamKeeper — which applies analytics to management.

Lauren Keyson: So, your most disruptive technology to date is your data-driven platform for developing smarter, more effective managers (at SalesFuel).

C. Lee Smith: Management becomes more personalized as you do a discovery process on each employee. Then you add employees’ strengths, weaknesses aspirations, and motivations, which allow managers to coach, develop and groom them for the next thing. But it all revolves around the discovery process. It’s a process we took from the sales world because that’s what salespeople must do with accounts or prospects they are trying to sell.

But I decided I wanted to look at the management angle, because the job market being like it is, you get good quality employees and try to keep good ones. You can’t just crack the whip and say, “This is the management style, you have to adapt to it.” It has more to do with not treating your employees like vendors but treating them like customers as well. You have a
much greater chance of higher productivity and retention.

LK: Why did you choose sales? Did it have to do with confidence?

CS: I picked sales to go into because I needed beer money! That was in college! But I was a journalism major in college. And I was also a big scientist. I was a finalist in International Science and Engineering fairs for two years, placed 4th in the world my senior year. Now you see how journalism, science, and sales all come together to create the first thing that I did. Then, between some of my frustrations in managing people, and my entrepreneur friends sharing frustrations in managing people too, that’s how the concept was born.

A lot of confidence is practice and preparation. So, if you have asked the right questions going into it, you are going to be more confident. A lot of the preparation is the discovery process, whether you’re in sales with a prospect, or you might be having a one-on-one coaching session with an employee, or an interview with a potential employee, or something like that. Confidence comes if you practice and do your homework.

We can measure confidence with TeamKeeper. Before even getting to the interview process we can tell you what level a candidate’s confidence is. What’s great about the scientific analytics we do, is we can determine if you have someone who is worth spending time with, or if he is even a real person or not.

LK: A lot of startups and entrepreneurs are accustomed to failure, some deal with it in different ways. They have challenges, and they come back from it. Do you have an individual challenge you can talk about that you overcame?

CS: I had a very challenging employee. It’s caused me to focus a lot more on the HR process and the hiring process, on understanding core competencies for each position in a company. To make sure you hire the right fit for that and then coach them to higher performance from that point. We built all these things in the TeamKeeper platform. I look at it as: this person cost me a lot of money, and if they got the job but they’re not doing the job, then I’m not getting my money back.

LK: How does your system determine the right fit?

CS: It identifies your culture and what it is you want your culture to be. We have this thing called a “culture check.” That’s one of the assessments. It’s a 360-degree assessment of everyone in the company. The thing about culture is that it’s not what you say it is, it’s what they say it is. As a boss, you can influence it, put your mission statement out there, etc. and you think that’s what the company culture is, but it’s not. It’s dictated by each individual manager because they have their own subcultures.

You’ll see that in any company, depending on whose department you’re in and who sets the culture. Even the idea of company culture is not entirely accurate because you might want there to be a culture “that’s all that” but it’s not going to be that way depending on whose team you’re on. We analyze that first to find out what you want your culture to be and where it is currently, and then look at each individual manager and look at their teams to see how they’re stacking up against the company benchmarks.

LK: How do you find a qualified person through your company?

CS: It’s all about the power of attraction. A lot of it is networking and letting people know what your culture is about. The right people will find you. It’s not about putting the right ad on a jobsite or using the right words. It’s really about branding, networking, and attraction.

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