Guest post by Josiane Feigon.
Jim just got approval on open headcount, and he’s already feeling the pressure to hire fast: every day the positions aren’t filled puts revenue targets in jeopardy. He was a top sales rep for years, just promoted to sales manager. But without training or basic management skills, he’s floundering, rushing to hire without taking time to determine the different role requirements for the job functions. As a result he writes empty ads and posts them on sites with thousands of other ads, screens out too many candidates, interviews too few, and ends up picking the wrong ones. All too soon he’s got empty seats that need to be filled again.
Smart sales managers work to build relationships with prequalified candidates before they are ready to hire. Their sales staff gets used to this “always-be-recruiting” environment as normal behavior. Everyone understands that their workplace supports a culture that is always be looking for good talent, widening the pool, benefiting everyone.
The following nine essentials will help you develop a strong “always be recruiting” muscle:
- Learn to recognize Inside Sales Superheroes when you meet them. Today’s Inside Sales Superheroes are bold, innovative, and tenacious, and motivated young salespeople who are not afraid to try new approaches. They easily multitask between phones, text, email, and video, to social (LinkedIn) and IM. They have a sixth sense about which tool is the most appropriate to use, and they’re not afraid to push the connection envelope.
- Structure inside sales talent by determining the right roles. The right person + the right role = successful selling. Sales development, inside sales, renewal, social selling—all of these teams require different skill sets, so match up your teams with the right people. Structure well-defined roles and responsibilities and create clear performance expectations.
- Establish a “multi-career” ecosystem that entices talent. Talent 2.0 is eager to get better, contribute, and grow in their jobs, in the company, and in their long-term careers. Remember, you’re hiring talent from the “What’s next?” generation. Offer a clear career progression—today’s career-oriented salespeople need horizons to aim at.
- Work an ACTIVITY, not a place. With more and more sales teams working remotely or telecommuting several days a week, salespeople on the same team can be scattered across the country or the globe. So today’s sales is not about where you work but how you work. Take the same time to manage your remote workers as your on-site teams, and take steps to include every team member in collaboration and fun.
- Learn where to source good talent and establish a referral network. Where you source talent, and how you source it, will determine the type of talent you will get. Feed and follow professional networks and social networks, create industry referral partners, expose your organization at job and career fairs. Create an “always be recruiting” culture that supports looking for and retaining the best and brightest.
- Create strong messaging that supports the roles you want to hire. In essence, you are selling the job to potential candidates. Your messaging embodies everything about your company’s culture, what the job is, and the person you want to attract. Today’s talent wants to be part of something big, fun, energetic, and with a future. Your messaging must demonstrate your reputation, sell candidates on your company values and mission, and emphasize that your organization will nurture their talent and provide opportunities for personal growth.
- Establish a fun culture that sells. Talent 2.0 is looking for more than “just a job”: they want a sense of community, camaraderie, competitive activities, and FUN. Go the extra mile to discover the events, music, food, games, and ideas that pump up the fun volume. If this is not your thing, nominate a few “fun ambassadors” from your sales organization who are creative, resourceful, and full of motivational energy.
- Design a screening process that sticks. Develop a strong, consistent talent screening process for all candidates that will screen out those who are inappropriate and allow the Superheroes to get noticed. Use phone screening and and an on-site interview. Use role-play, consider personality testing. At your final interview, remember to sell the job—the right candidate likely has plenty of offers to choose from.
- Don’t be the roadblock to hiring talent. Managers who don’t present themselves, their teams, or the job in the best light can unintentionally turn off good candidates. Remember, Sales Superheroes will be checking you out just as carefully as you are vetting them. So be sure your social networks are strong, plan strong questions, use role-play scenarios that support creative thinking, include top talent in interviews, make sure they know you are always available for coaching and mentoring, and make your company’s fun culture abundantly clear.
Josiane Feigon is President of TeleSmart Communications and author of the business bestseller, Smart Selling on the Phone and Online. To read an excerpt from her latest book, Smart Sales Manager, click here.