A Better Way to Hire
One of the most frustrating functions of my job in sales management has been going through the typical hiring process in order to find a qualified salesperson. Place an ad, call an employment agency or put the word out to the street that you have a sales position available. I kept telling myself that there has to be a better way to hire a quality salesperson. I can’t afford to hope I made the right decision in my hire based on a resume and the typical interviewing process. In fact, I would argue that the process of filling a sales position is a task that most sales managers dread and stress over. It can be a very daunting task to find an individual who is self-motivated, has great people skills and has strong industry product knowledge. The practice of placing an advertisement for an opening and waiting to see who applies and walks through your door, in my experience, is just not productive.
I found a better way to hire and ended the frustration once and for all. My hiring process now – always prospect and keep it informal.
When it comes to hiring quality individuals for sales positions in my organization, I am always prospecting, the same as you would with customer sales opportunities. I typically meet with two individuals of interest per month even though I do not having a position open at the time. I am just making sure I have a strong candidate pool to pull from when a need or growth opportunity happens. You may be thinking, who has the time to meet with two individuals per month who aren’t even needed? It becomes something you just make time for. It is about building relationships. I do my meetings typically off-site over lunch or coffee because you can get a better feel for a person and their personality if you remove the stress of a formal interview environment. The other reason I do these off-site is in some cases, the individual may be working for my competitors, and I certainly don’t want to put the individual in a tough spot with their current employer prior to having an actual position available. I maintain an open line of communication with these individuals of interest by keeping them in the loop as to new products, service we are now offering and potential employment opportunities that may be developing.
Almost all of the hires I make today are individuals I have met through my informal, non-conventional interviewing process. In many cases up to 12 months may go by before a position opens up. During that time, I gain a real feel for this person and their personality. This is where the real value comes, feeling solid about the salesperson you are about to hire. Can you get that feeling from traditional hiring practices? I am convinced that you can’t and need to commit the time needed to build relationships with potential hires, allowing you to find great sales individuals.
Editor’s Note: For more on Nelson, click here for related story on his company.