Difficulty in finding and hiring good people, along with the rising cost of talent, IS a dark side of a good economy, particularly when you’re looking for TOP talent, not the low-paying entry-level positions that are always in flux and relatively easy to find a body to fill.
But now, ONE good outcome of the corona cray-cray is that millions are unemployed, furloughed and having their incomes shattered, which means it’s a hell of a lot easier to find great people.
The last sales help-wanted ad I ran generated hundreds of applicants in days. Good people too. So, if you’ve been putting off hiring salespeople, NOW is the time to get looking – and yes, if you want to grow your business, you cannot do it by ONLY building a herd of techs. You NEED salespeople. But let me give you a few things to think about as you start your search.
1. The best salespeople are all employed and well-paid.
They are hesitant to move because they’ve often built a good, solid book of business over the years and will be very hesitant to walk away and start over. But now that they may be seeing a decline in sales, maybe even prevented from selling or making a commission, you’ve got a much better shot at luring them away – BUT YOU HAVE TO ACT NOW.
The economy will resume and business will get back to normal. If you wait, you’ll miss the window.
2. RECRUIT, don’t absorb.
Following right on the heels of #1, most of the salespeople unemployed are cast-offs who couldn’t make it in their previous jobs – so make sure you actually LOOK and prospect salespeople in the same way you’d prospect a new client. By all means, have an ad because you need something to point a potential candidate to review – but then ask your clients, friends, associates, vendors, etc., about who they know who is a GREAT salesperson. Be on the lookout as you go about your normal life and interact with salespeople.
Use LinkedIn Sales Navigator and recruitment tools to find senior reps who have worked for competitors or have sold high-end professional services to businesses. I personally want to see longevity in a position. If a sales rep is hopping from job to job every one or two years, that’s not a great sign. Look for someone who’s been working somewhere for five years or longer in a consultative sales role with a résumé that talks about results.
3. SELL them on working for you.
Don’t forget you are competing with other companies for that talent. Good salespeople are money-motivated, so make sure you can show them how to make six figures or more if you’re looking to find a high-protein outside salesperson who can drive business in the door.
Show them how you will help them succeed by supporting them with marketing, having a valuable and unique product/service to sell, a real opportunity in the marketplace, sales support and a generous compensation plan.
If they’re more junior, you’ll need to be able to show a path of opportunity and advancement. Remember, salespeople make you money, so they’re not a cost. Far too many people say they “can’t afford” salespeople, which is totally and completely backwards thinking. BAD and non-performing salespeople are a drain on resources and cost, not the good ones.
4. So the age-old question: which position to hire for first?
I would be looking for three different roles: an appointment setter/telemarketer, an inside sales account manager and an outside sales/closer. Who you hire first depends on your situation. If you don’t have a lot of clients, then a telemarketer to call and schedule appointments for you would be my first choice.
This would also be my hiring choice if you have a solid outside salesperson who can close. Hire the telemarketer to be sales support for them so they can focus 100% of their time meeting with prospects and negotiating and closing contracts for you, NOT prospecting to find someone to sell to.
If you HAVE a number of clients (20+), consider hiring an inside salesperson or account manager who can upsell, cross-sell and handle QBRs. This position is going to be higher in base with not as much commission, given they are selling to existing clients, but definitely should be measured and compensated on NEW sales they bring in.
Doing this will not only free you up, but will also ensure clients’ requests don’t fall through the cracks, referrals get followed up on properly, QBRs actually happen, etc.
Finally, if you have those two roles filled, consider hiring the outside sales hunter – but be warned, this will be the hardest role to fill.
As you recruit salespeople, be prepared to hire any one of the three. I’ve found and hired great telemarketers from a sales management job ad, and high-quality sales reps from entry-level positions. Bottom line, when you find a good one, HIRE THEM. As I said before, they’ll more than pay for themselves.
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