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Sales Recruiting Doesn’t Work

June 12th, 2013


Most business owners understand that landing and keeping a true Sales Superstar is like finding a needle in a haystack.

After suffering through multiple sales hiring failures and wasting tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars, many entrepreneurs often throw in the towel and engage a headhunter or recruiter.  The expectation is that the recruiter will succeed in finding the silver bullet—that wonderful salesperson that will deliver some new additional sales and a night or two of sleep.  The owner also hopes that the effort will inject consistency into improving their long-term revenue and profit picture.

In most cases, both the hopes and expectations of the owner are not fulfilled.  How can this be????

During the last year, I’ve been asked by over one hundred business owners for help in recruiting a great salesperson.  Many come to ZThree AFTER they’ve wasted money and squandered their hopes and dreams on headhunters who promise to deliver sales superstars. 

Z3 Performance Development has been helping companies build consistent, scalable, World Class Sales Organizations for 15 years.  As such, we have located, landed, launched, trained and coached many hundreds of highly successful salespeople.  So whenever someone asks me if ZThree can recruit a sales ninja for their company, I respond by asking:

“Why do you think that recruiting a sales superstar will solve your problem?

I ask because they are usually asking the wrong question.  Sales Recruiting (in the absence of other essentials) almost always fails to deliver the desired result and ROI for a wide variety of reasons, including but not limited to the following:

  • The salesperson has industry experience, but simply can’t sell:  Many business owners (and headhunters) dramatically over-emphasize the importance of industry experience a salesperson requires to be successful.  A great salesperson CAN sell anything, a weak one can’t sell a thing.  Period.
  • The salesperson is good, but there is no path to success:   Most companies, especially small ones, are clueless when it comes to on-boarding salespeople.  Many entrepreneurs breathe a deep sigh of relief when they have finally made an offer and arrived at mutual terms with the selected candidate.  Unfortunately, your job is not over after your new hire has accepted.  In fact, this is just the beginning.  Whether you have hired a superstar or simply a good soldier who is willing put forth the effort, make sure to define and execute a very clear Sales Plan, Success Recipe, and 60-90 day on-boarding program.  If you don’t have an on-boarding process, create one.  As part of this process, make sure to assess your salespeople and help them to create personal development plans to improve their selling effectiveness. 
  • There is a Sales Management deficit:  The expense of hiring another sales dud can be huge, so effective management is CRUCIAL to success. This is especially vital with new hires.  In the absence of an effective sales management structure, the best salespeople WILL leave.  Great athletes love to play on great teams.  If you want to keep your best, be your best.   Many small business owners think sales management is unnecessary if they only have 1 to 3 salespeople.   This misconception has sent many companies into bankruptcy.  If consistent growth with strong profit is your ultimate goal, the sales management function is one of the two most important functions in your company—independent of your company size.  Sales management does NOT require a lot of time or expense, but DOES require a lot of focus.   

If you haven’t figured it out by now, I am actually a huge proponent of sales recruiting—EFFECTIVE Sales Recruiting.  However, I would also advise against the use of a recruiter UNLESS you are ready to make other commitments involving infrastructure, process implementation and accountability.   Without these, you will likely be wasting your money. 

The bad news is that doing this may require an investment larger than the price of your new salesperson’s comp plan.  The good news is that the rewards far outweigh the commitment and will continue to pay dividends far into the future.  Doing so will also make it much easier to recruit future sales superstars onto your team.

There is no rocket science here.  Great teams consist of great players, great management, and great processes.  Great athletes will not be attracted to, or stick around on mediocre teams.

Even the best sales recruiting process will produce lackluster results if conducted in the absence of the basic blocking and tackling of an effective sales effort.  If you need help getting started, you can click here to request the UnCommon Sense© Sales Upgrade Checklist.

Implement these simple processes and experience the feeling of having a consistent, predictable sales organization.

Copyright ©   Joe Zente  2013.   All Rights Reserved.

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