Hiring: It’s a Process, Not an Event3 Jul, 2006 By: Frank Masi imageSource
Hiring: It’s a Process, Not an Event
The moment of truth comes when you terminate a Sales Rep or they tender their
resignation. Your brain is saying, "Here we go again! Time to start looking."
But then comes the aftershock:
Who’s going to cover the accounts?
How can I make my team sales quota now?
Who are his/her pending closes?
Where do I start looking?
Do I hire a proven heavy hitter or a beginner who I can train my way?
And, if you’re the owner of the company, this comes on top of squeezing in
time for payroll, A/P, A/R, customer relations issues and, oh yeah, selling
So, is there a solution to the "Turnover and Hiring" of new reps? No, it is
part of the game. Individuals will forever come and go for a variety of reasons.
But there is an approach that simplifies recruiting and diminishes the fear and
the effects of turnover. And it is based upon a truism:
RECRUITING IS A PROCESS NOT TO BE INVOKED ON AN AS-NEEDED BASIS
Recruiting is an everyday function of every sales manager, as prospecting
calls are to a territory rep. Let’s face
it, you cannot afford "sales gaps" between hires. Look to recruit on an ongoing
basis. Interview daily, even when you’re at full manpower level. If your budget
can stand it, advertise weekly; even small ads help. Just ask Billy Chiacchia, a
regional VP for Eastern Copy Products, a Global Imaging Company. Billy runs five
of Eastern's ten offices in New York state.
As part of his weekly management review process, along with sales figures and
other management information, Billy requires his sales managers to report how
many sales interviews they had that week. Interviewing is part of the sales
"You need to build a bench," said Billy. "We strongly believe that this
regular interviewing process is so important that we made it part of our sales
managers’ compensation plan. If they interview regularly, they will develop two
to three qualified reps every month. That’s our bench. When one rep goes, we
have a replacement ready to step right in."
Ask yourself these questions: if you could hire three successful reps, would
it help your business? Would it improve your bottom line? Help reduce debt? Buy
larger quantities of product at deeper discount levels?
Well, that’s what the recruiting process promises. A steady stream of good
hires that will grow your business. It is the very foundation of constant and
consistent growth. And, we’re not talking about spending large amounts of cash.
We’re talking about a veritable "ritual" that can transform your office. So if
you’re serious about making sales growth a reality for your company, then let’s
get the process in place, right here, right now.
A 20/20 Vision
Start by making a 12" x 24" sign for your office that says interview today.
Why this sign? Because the basic building block of the process involves having
at least one interview every day. That’s the 20/20 Plan: 20 working days = 20
interviews which amounts to over 200 interviews a year.
Determine what your basic recruiting strategy is. Do you want to hire
beginners or big hitters?
If your office has good training capabilities and you are in a good market
with strong product lines, you may want to bring on trainable, aggressive
beginners (some outside B to B selling experience is always desirable).
If you don’t have the programs, time or personnel to hire beginners, then you
want to reach out to the more experienced big hitters with 3+ years of
experience, preferably in your product categories.
You can always mix and match, but what is your strategy? You can’t go looking
if you don’t know what you’re looking for. When you go fishing, you choose your
bait, line and location based upon the kind of fish you want to catch. When you
plan a day on the golf course, you make sure you have the right clubs in your
bag for the kind of greens and sand traps you will face.
When you are in a hiring mode, you need to know the profile of the candidate
you want to pursue and be prepared to entice them once you’ve identified quality
Two sources for assistance in recruiting are your manufacturers and
professional industry training organizations. Seek them out! What can they
provide you with to help develop a training program for inexperienced or
experienced hires? Develop your own sources and utilize them regularly.
Once you have determined what strategy you will employ, you need to know
where to look.
This list is by no means complete. Who do you talk to each day? Customers,
bank tellers, insurance reps,waiters/waitresses, health club employees,
If you feel they possess good sales personality traits, invite them to your
office for a chat. Get to know their vocational and monetary goals. Be ready to
present the opportunities at your company. If they’re not interested and the
talking stops, don’t forget to ask them for a referral. The asking never stops.
It doesn’t cost anything, and it develops good sales candidates.
The numbers will vary from source to source, but industry recruiters state
that most sales hires are made through the following sources in the following
You know your town. You know where to look. Take a moment and jot down all
those places where you can search. Don’t stop until you reach 20.
Set aside a time to interview each day. If you’re going to interview
everyday, you need to plan the most convenient time. It could be early morning
from 7:30 – 9:00 am, or late in the day from 5:00 – 6:30 pm. But, it is critical
that each day you look for the next day’s interview or two, or three.
Is it time to do a reality check here? Are you doubtful about the "Interview
a Day" approach? Well, I offer you this: you are asking others to do it, why
Yes, you ask your Sales Reps to make 20+ cold calls a day, and maybe make two
presentations a day. Why do you do that? You know why? You’re smart, that’s why.
You know that it is "The Process" which develops a consistent stream of sales.
You tell your Reps to do it every day. That if they employ the process daily,
sales will result.
voila! If you interview every day and make it part of your management
lifestyle, you will make hires regularly and consistently. Recruiting, like
selling, is a process, not an event. And we’re not talking about one or two hour
interviews. A fifteen minute screening will do it. Can you put that amount of
time into your daily planner? It’s a minor time commitment that promises an
But, you say, if I am at full manpower why should I do this every day? For
You should always be looking to replace the rep at the bottom of your sales
team. If you’re not, you’re being complacent.
If everyone on your sales staff is at or above quota, great. This is the time
to expand your sales team. If you have identified a good sales candidate, bring
them aboard. From your own experience, you know that it is better trying to add
to your team when sales are up rather than down.
But what about turnover? Let’s address the myth that turnover is bad. Upon
closer examination, turnover can actually be good for a company. You can relieve
yourself of an expense that is not returning satisfactory financial results.
That’s a good business move.
The trick is to do it early enough in the new Rep’s employment so it limits
your financial risk. Most sales managers will agree that somewhere between 60 –
90 days is sufficient to get an idea of how a new hire will work out. It doesn’t
necessarily mean that if no sales occur during that period, you fire your hire.
What you want to measure is their success in implementing the selling process
combined with his/her behavior. Are they making their prospecting calls every
day? Are they learning the products and absorbing your training? Are they
antagonistic, cooperative or non-participative? If you sense a problem, you must
consider termination. The bad traits will kill any hope for development.
Termination is the only cure. If you sell a more complicated product with a long
turnaround sales cycle, you may need to give the new Sales Rep a longer rope.
But look for the same signs.
"Controlled Turnover" is what you want to achieve. Not only is this good for
your top line, but its critical for the bottom line. And don’t worry about the
"humanity" of it. If you’ve monitored the new hire properly, he/she would have
probably failed anyway. It’s time for them to learn they are on the wrong track.
It’s really a win-win situation when you look at all its implications.
Why not get started on the 20/20 plan. Get yourself or your managers 20
interviews over the next 20 days. Make it part of the workday around your
office. Start building a bench now to avoid that dreaded sales gap between sales
hires. It’s a process with profitable results.