As our CEO, Angela Betasso, and I were planning our January Sales Manager’s Boot Camp, she made a great suggestion. Why don’t we start with the major issues impacting sales leaders and plan our agenda around those? So, that’s what we did.
Making the list was pretty easy. It’s no surprise that our #1 issue was Recruiting and Retaining Great People. Because of that, we built an entire day at Boot Camp around the subject.
No doubt, recruiting is harder than ever. Unemployment is at the lowest levels in history. Remember when we were told that full employment was 5% unemployed? We’re way lower than that—US unemployment in the most recent report was 3.6%. Everyone who wants to work can get a job.
Besides the job market, we have to acknowledge that our industry doesn’t have the appeal it did 10-20 years ago. Back then, recruiting was way easier. Add to that the prevalence of non-competes, which makes it a lot harder to take people from a competitor.
So, it’s tough. But, think about what you’d say to an AE who told you they were struggling with new business? Most likely, you’d tell them they need to change their approach. It’s like the line that says, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
What we’re doing for recruiting now isn’t working. That means we have to do it differently. If I were a station GM or group exec today, I’d have clear expectations of my sales leadership about how many people they should be speaking with per month. A recruiting budget, if you will, but one that will make us money… and doesn’t cost a dime.
Recruiting is selling. We coach our AE’s to keep their pipeline full. That’s why many managers measure the number of new business calls and presentations each month. They look at what’s in the pipeline, not just how much business was written. We know that if an AE has a full pipeline, they’ll likely be OK with new biz. If they don’t, they’re going to struggle.
We know that and we preach that. Then, we make the most common recruiting mistake sales managers make, which is only looking for someone when we have an opening. That strategy worked years ago, but it doesn’t work today. Without a full pipeline of prospective sales hires, you run the risk of lowering your hiring standards. Or, and this is scary, you become reluctant to deal with under-performers because you don’t have anyone to fill their position—someone below average is better than no one at all. This scares me because we’re in a time when our teams need to be stronger. Yet, my sense is they might actually be getting weaker, and that should frighten all of us.
At Boot Camp, we shared lots and lots of practical recruiting tips, everything from how to effectively use LinkedIn to writing ads that actually might make people want to work for you. We shared examples of companies whose sales staffs are building a great brand on LinkedIn that makes them look like the cool kids.
We talked about how to do better interviews—ones that really bring out someone’s skills.
We hopefully convinced some managers that there are two parts to the recruiting process. Part 1 is them selling you. Part 2 is YOU selling THEM. We suggested building formal PPT presentations like you would for a big sale. In them, you sell the opportunity, training, comp, team, and especially the culture of your sales team. When we get a candidate we want, we have to go all-in to get them. That’s a sales process. Would you ask a big client to buy with just a conversation? Of course not. You’d build a formal, professional presentation. Well, guess what? Hiring great people is as important as that big sales pitch. In the long run, maybe even more important.
All of the tips and techniques are useless if we don’t make recruiting a priority. That requires setting time, preferably every week, just like we’re asking AE’s to do for new business.
Sales managers are busy. Crazy-busy at times. For high achievers, it’s never about time management because high achievers never have enough time. For achievers, it’s always about priority management. We must make the RIGHT things important. One way to make sure that this critical issue is being effectively managed is by making sure that recruiting is a weekly priority for your sales leadership.
Its time for a recruiting budget.
Have a Group, Corporate, General Manager or Sales Manager meeting in your future? Why not have Jim Doyle speak at 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