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Don't let good salespeople get away!

Don't let good salespeople get away

Last November, one of my executive coaching and consulting clients asked me to find a new controller to oversee the company's finances.

We missed a good one.

My client, owner of a wireless company, was very excited about the first 3 candidates that he interviewed; particularly one person in particular, who I'll call Tammy. Tammy lived locally, her salary requirements were in range, and she had great chemistry with my client. She was immediately available due to the pending closure of her employer. As all good candidates do, Tammy contacted me frequently for a 2nd interview, which probably would have led to an offer. My client delayed. Although Tammy was very interested in this position, she needed a job. Three weeks later, Tammy accepted a different job. Although we found another candidate within two months, the miss on Tammy cost the company thousands of dollars for recruiting costs and lost productivity. Personally, I thought she was a better fit.

We got lucky.

My client asked me to find a sales leader for the company's 30 retail stores and its business-to-business sales team. We got lucky. A national retailer was reorganizing at the same time my search started. One of our candidates was an area director in charge of 40 of this national retailer's stores. He decided to voluntarily leave the company and take a position with my client. Fortunately, he saw a huge opportunity for a new career with this company, so he waited patiently during the lengthy time it took to bring him on board as an employee.

We missed a lot of good ones.

This same client asked me to lead efforts to find talented salespeople, since the internal recruiting personnel were struggling to keep the company supplied with effective sales and sales management talent. On the first day of this project, I used some analytics from the company's applicant tracking system to find that, following the initial phone screen, it took more than 1 month to hire new sales talent. One month is too slow. We needed to improve that time drastically.

We found a healthy supply of qualified candidates for interviews with the company's district managers. During the first seven weeks, 7 retail sales consultants, 1 outside business to business account executive, and 2 sales manager candidates all found jobs with other companies, due to delays in our recruiting process. To make matters worse, several found new jobs with my client's competitors. Many weren't even searching for positions when I initially contacted them. Not all of these candidates would have received or accepted offers. We would have hired most of them. They were some of the best candidates that I screened during this time. These delays cost my client tens of thousands of dollars in lost sales and increased recruiting costs.

The good ones are starting to find us now.

My client's average time to hire salespeople is now down to 10 days. They've hired more than 20 salespeople and 5 sales managers since January. Their year over year same store sales are now above their carrier's average and the talented new people that we've brought aboard are taking advantage of an employee referral program and attracting many new sales personnel to the company. Kudos to my client's human resources and sales management team for their contributions and the positive impact from hiring and onboarding these new people quickly. The human resources team did a great job emphasizing speed and staying on top of all internal interview activity.

How fast is your recruiting process?

Unless there is little competition for employees, or something unique about your company or a position you want filled, the concept of "hire slowly and fire quickly" may not apply. Sure, some of you who read this article may not feel the same need to hire quickly due to unique criteria. That's fine.

Summary: Don't let the good ones get away.

Any employer in a competitive market for qualified candidates will benefit from a fast and thorough recruiting process. If your company experiences significant competition for the most talented employees, this concept is crucial. A slow recruiting process will negatively impact long term growth opportunity and help your company's competitors hire great candidates before you. Hire great employees quickly.

Thank you for reading. Please read my articles to the right of this. Who knows, you might make more money from the brief time spent reading.

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