As of late, one topic that continues to be brought to my attention time and time again is in regards to hiring sales people. Business Owners/Sales Managers/HR Departments are becoming increasingly frustrated with sales candidates and the hiring process. There are many different avenues that you can take in attempt to bring qualified candidates your way, and I have just about tried them all. I have tried all the job boards, job sites, job fairs, the unemployment office, etc, and I will say that the one I keep going back to for my hiring needs is Time To Hire. Their approach, simply put, brings the highest quantity of top quality candidates out over everything that I have tried, hands down! Now, with that said, their recruiting efforts are only as good as my hiring abilities. They have brought candidates my way, now it is my job to convert the candidates into employees. However, easier said than done right?
This is where many companies are frustrated. They say to me that, yes Time To Hire has brought candidates their way, but they cannot convert them to employees. Many of the struggles lead to the following questions:
- What do you say to candidates when you talk to them on the phone, and what questions do you ask?
- How do you get more candidates to actually show up for personal interviews?
- How do you determine compensation structures?
- How do I retain employees, so that I don’t have so much turnover?
These are example of some of the typical questions that many employers are asking themselves, and many times there are no scientifically proven answers. However, from my experience of running the sales department one of the largest home improvement companies in the country and from consulting with companies regarding this topic in more than 30 states, I can offer some suggestions.
- When you talk to a candidate for the first time on the phone, make it a phone interview and let them know you are running the show. Don’t make it too casual. Let them know that you are conducting phone interviews as your first step in the process and it will take just 5-10 minutes. Have a very pointed list of 7 or 8 questions you will be asking that will include their experience and recent earnings. You don’t want to waste anyone’s time (especially yours). Sell you and your company! This cannot be missed. You are selling yourself as much as they are selling themselves. Give them enough to where they want to hear more. Don’t give too much or too little, again leave them wanting more. Then the last question I always ask so that I maintain control of the call is: “If you had the opportunity to ask me one question and one question only, what would that be?” And, you have to ask that with some serious confidence so that it is effective. It will show them that you are confident and that you mean business. At the end of the call, you can either schedule an interview, have either of you take some time to think about it, or tell them they are not a fit. How you handle it may depend on how the phone call went. Taking some of these simple steps will definitely set you apart from much of the competition who may be just having a conversation with the candidate that has no direction and ends up going nowhere.
- Like many others in years past, I would have a terrible time getting candidates to actually show up for interviews. That is until I made some minor adjustments. The first adjustment is what I mentioned in number 1. I changed my phone interview process. The second adjustment was that I started using the following line at the end of the phone interview: “Based on our conversation, I am not sure that you are exactly what we are looking for at this time”. This gave the candidate the opportunity to show me how they would overcome objections, and if they were able to do so, it gave us a bonding moment, and I would then build them up and get them in for an interview. The third adjustment I made was that I would tell them to take a day or two to look at my website and think about what we discussed. I would tell them to call me back a certain day at a certain time. If they could not do that, I knew they were not serious about coming to an interview. The last adjustment I made was that I will tell people straight out that if they are not going to show, then they should call. I tell them that I set time aside for them to come in and I dedicate myself to giving them time, and if they are not going to make it, at least e-mail or call. I am a big boy and can handle it. Prior to all of this, I would have about 50% of candidates show up for interviews, and after implementing these adjustments, it is at about 90%.
- Determining compensation structures is a little trickier. It really depends on how you are structured as a company. However, I will give you a couple of hints regardless. Do not offer straight commission only. It scares people off, turns them off and they will shut down on you without being open minded. Even if you want to offer commission only, come up with a package that has a base salary that can be offered. However, you may want to make the commission only package so attractive in comparison, that the candidate can’t help but take the commission only package. Don’t get into details on comp packages until late in the interview stages and you are ready to make an offer. You want to get an idea of what candidates are expecting to make early on so you are not wasting anyone’s time as mentioned previously, but don’t get into specifics until later.
- Reducing turnover can be quite simple. There are three rules to follow when it comes to turnover:
- Hire properly. Not every hire is going to be perfect. However, if you take your time hiring and take every step you can to ensure you have the right individual, you have taken the 1st step. Conduct multiple interviews, give personality tests, have candidates interview with the entire “core team”. Do not hire out of desperation!
- Be a “Leader”. It was E.M. Kelly that said “A boss says go, a leader says, let’s go”. Be someone that people want to work for. Show you care. Go above and beyond to make people feel like you are there for them.
- Smaller companies, follow the first two. Larger companies may want to implement this one. Turn over the bottom 10% or 20% of every department every year. If handled properly, this will motivate people to do their jobs and as long as they are in the top 80%-90% they have nothing to worry about. You want to talk about increasing productivity; this can definitely help do it!
Recruiting, interviewing, hiring, training can be a daunting task. Companies spend thousands and thousands of dollars repeating these steps over and over again due to poor hiring/training practices. This does not have to be you. Hopefully you will find some of these tips helpful and you will be able to implement them on your next hire.
If you would like further assistance, please contact www.velpelassociates.com at anytime.
“Recognize Effort, Reward Success”
-The Sales Leader