It’s getting harder and harder to find great people. It’s never been easy, but it sure is harder today. There’s a lot of competition for great people, and we may not be the prettiest girl at the dance for many younger people who could be great at our business.
But I have a way to be sure you have a supply of great people who want to work for you. Create a culture that makes you the best place to work in your town. People are being beaten up in other places in town, but if you create a positive, fun culture, the word gets out and people want to work in that environment. Of course, the opposite is also true.
One of my great teachers was Pat Ivers, who ran Comcast Spotlight’s ad sales operation in Denver. A failing ad sales group when Pat took over, they rose to out-bill every single TV station in Denver except one.
Pat created the best sales culture I have ever seen. Music and food at every sales meeting. A ping pong table in a space called the “closer’s lounge.” Taking the team trick-or-treating to the ad agencies. Lots of laughter, love, and silliness.
It was a place where almost every good rep in town wanted to work. Little by little, he created a staff you would only dream of having. A staff filled with stars. And the results followed.
Pat was also a master at marrying rigorous accountability to his incredible culture. And, when you meet the team’s needs for fun and applause, they won’t fight back at your need to have accountability.
So, your culture is your #1 sales recruitment tool.
But if you want to be a great recruiter, you also can NOT make the biggest mistake sales managers make, which is only doing recruiting when there’s an opening.
We all know from personal experience what happens when someone leaves. For me, I either tried to handle the list myself… always a mistake. Or, I’d distribute the accounts to the team to handle temporarily. That usually backfires, as they either want those accounts permanently or they don’t give them the attention they need because your reps know this is just a temporary situation.
My reaction to knowing that this wasn’t good was to relax my hiring standards. I wanted to fill the position, so I started to drop my hiring standards. That meant that in a time when I needed to upgrade my team, I actually hired someone who wasn’t an improvement, which made things worse, not better.
Today, recruiting has to occur almost every single week, not just when a star has resigned. In fact, great managers often have their next AE in the queue long before they have an opening.
First, you need to get clear on what you’re likely to need. Do you anticipate needing an experienced AE or someone who is just getting started?
If you’re looking for an experienced AE, my best stolen idea came from a Top 40 sales leader. He had his assistant keep a list of every AE at each radio, TV, and cable operation in the market. Anytime someone left, he’d invite them to lunch. His goal? Have the person leaving give him some insight about anyone on the rep’s old team who might be a strong up-and-comer. The “sweet spot” for recruiting is an AE with 1-3 years of experience. After 3 years, if they’re great they get harder to move, UNLESS their current environment is toxic. But the relative newby might not yet be visible in the market. That’s the brilliance of taking the person to lunch. By the way, sometimes that AE moves away from the business to do something else – maybe to be a Realtor or try something new – and misses our business. And maybe, if they’re great, you’ve kept in touch and might get the first call.
In the dark ages, we used to tell salespeople to “Always be Closing.” Today, for managers, we should change that to “Always Be Recruiting.” Constantly ask agencies and direct clients, “Who has impressed you. And why?”
Anytime you hear of someone good, reach out to them. Set up a time to meet for coffee. Tell them, “I’ve heard good things about you and I’d like to get to know you better.” If they impress you, ask them how they see their career progressing and what things are important to them about a place they’d love to work.
Aggressively use LinkedIn and other social media tools. Make sure your own team knows you’d like them to pay attention to who impresses them and to introduce you to them. Always have your antenna up for who’s good.
It’s the same thing with recruiting as it is with the sales funnel. We tell our sellers that the funnel is bigger on the top than on the bottom because we need to put a bunch of prospects into the top in order to get a few sales to come out the bottom. It’s the same thing with recruiting. If you aren’t talking to enough people, you won’t find the star, unless you get really, really lucky.
Today, every sales manager should have time on his/her calendar every week for recruiting. After all, what could be more important to your future success than having a great team.
Every boss of a sales manager ought to be inspecting this effort, making sure that they discuss recruiting in every one-on-one.
Years ago, I’d joke that if I were a big boss and you told me you couldn’t find great people, I’d have a two-word response, “Your fired.” Because what’s more important to the success of a sales leader than attracting and retaining great salespeople? That’s the key piece of the job!! I know it’s harder today, which means it has to be more of a weekly priority than it has been in the past.
But it does get easier if you have a great culture!!
Have a GSM or GM meeting in your future? Why not have Jim Doyle or John Hannon speak to your meeting about how to turn your sales staff into a Sales Force? We promise powerful, thought-provoking content customized to your company’s needs. Contact Jim Doyle at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 941-926-SELL.
We’re also taking reservations for our 2018 High Performance Sales Manager’s Boot Camp – January 28-30th in Tampa, FL. Do you know someone who could benefit from this high intensity training? Someone who would walk away saying what this LSM did after attending Boot Camp – “This was life changing in both my personal and professional life in many ways… But not in the motivational type of way. In a real-world, step-by-step, instructional action plan type of way!” Interested? Go to BOOTCAMP or contact Anne Fowler, email@example.com or call 941-926-SELL (7355) for more info.