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Do Not Hire Part 5 – Time to Recruit

The Don’t Hire That Rep series has suggested sales leaders consider taking a different approach to investing their sales budget when faced with an open hiring requisition.   Instead of hiring a replacement rep(s) we propose re-investing that same hiring and employment cost into the remaining, successful sales team by implementing an in-bound and out-bound lead generation program. We also identify in the most recent post in the series the capabilities and features to look for when evaluating automated lead management solutions.   What’s the payoff?   By effectively automating outbound sales campaigns and tracking and scoring the digital behavior of prospects, your valuable sales resources now focus their time on qualified Sales Ready prospects.

With this kind of ‘above the funnel‘ lead generation process now in place (what we call Lead Ready), expanding the sales force in a controlled fashion now makes sense and can produce the revenue ROI your company needs.   Now, part 5 of this series looks at the effective hiring practices to find, attract and close on the top talent you need.  Sales hiring is a science, not an art, and it’s more important than ever.  Remember, the cost of a bad hire is far more than wasted salary and fringe benefits.  Depending on customer contract values total out of pocket cost could easily be millions of dollars.  According to Topgrading author Brad Smart, a bad hire could cost 24X (or more) salary paid in terms of opportunities lost, damaged relationships, and wasted internal resources.

5 Steps to Effective Sales Hiring

The ultimate goal of the hiring process is to increase the number of “A” players on your team.  An effective hiring process has 5 primary steps.

  • Planning your search
  • Attracting great candidates
  • Interviewing
  • Successfully negotiating with the chosen candidate
  • Assimilating the new hire into your organization

1. Good search planning preparation is critical to attracting the talent you need.  This planning is more than just defining the duties and responsibilities and reporting structure of the position.   Give some extra thought to the background of the ideal candidate.  Make sure your expectations are realistic or you will have a very small pool of talent to recruit from.  Also, make sure you build a compelling company story.  Your ability to truthfully sell your company and its capabilities is an important part of the process.

2. Step two of the process is attracting great candidates.  The traditional path of using recruiters and job site postings is quickly being replaced by social media, groups, and associations.  That’s not to say that executive search firms don’t provide an important function; if you are in a unique industry or have concerns over directly recruiting from a competitor then executive search firms path may be the best for you.  The explosion of social media platforms such as LinkedIn and Facebook can speed up the search for qualified candidates. These platforms allow you to quickly identify, qualify, and in most cases provide for personal introduction or referrals from trusted colleagues.  The most common mistakes in the recruiting process are not evaluating enough candidates and not developing a compelling company story.

3. The interviewing process is the most relied upon candidate selection process and is likely the least reliable method.  Many sales leaders lack the needed skills to interview properly and many make hire/no hire decisions within the first 10 minutes of the interview.  Make sure you understand your criteria for candidate selection.  Separate the “must have’s” from the “nice to have”.  Most of the candidates you interview won’t have the perfect background you seek; you need to make sure that you find the right balance when making your selection.  As past behavior is the best predictor of future results look for a verifiable track record of goal attainment and accomplishments.  The interview is also the right time asses the cultural fit between the candidate and your organization.  For example, if your organization is dynamic and constantly changing and the applicant prefers a stable status quo environment there will be cultural misalignment.  Ensure that the candidate understands that you will check and recheck references, trust but verify!

4. Now that you have the right person how do you successfully close the candidate. Continue to focus the candidate on the compelling story of your company, keep reminding the candidate why they would want to work for your firm but make sure they are valid reasons.  Hopefully you started the compensation discussion early in the process, the first or second conversation would be ideal. There is nothing worse than going through the long selection process only to find you are miles apart on compensation. Allow yourself a little wiggle room on compensation but don’t fall into the trap of playing games.  Make allowances for the right person but don’t make commitments that could cause conflict with the existing sales team, it’s hard to keep compensation confidential in any organization.

5. The applicant accepted, now what? Assimilating the new hire into the team is an urgent matter. I can think of several occurrences during my career where I lost a good person because I thought my job was finished when the acceptance letter was signed. If you don’t have a formal orientation program develop one.  Making sure that the new hire has a thorough understanding of the company and its processes will help get a new person comfortable quickly. Send a note to the spouse of the new hire welcoming them to the corporate family. Our jobs are always easier when we have the support and backing of the home team. I have also found that providing an internal mentor/confidant will help the new person navigate the political landscape more quickly and also gives them an additional go to point if their sales leader is not available.  Effective hiring requires a significant investment of time and effort, assembling a team of “A” players should be the number one priority of your time.

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