How to solve a sales management problem with better recruiting
Are you an effective recruiter? I don’t mean hiring a search firm to find potential candidates who are looking for a job. I’m talking about your ability to discover and evaluate qualified talent that will grow your business practice. Perhaps you have never had any formal training in this critical area of business management. Or maybe you are somewhat lacking in your confidence to be an effective recruiter. Don’t worry —It will come with practice.
Consider this: There is no sales management problem that cannot be solved by good recruiting. That’s how important this is.
A logical place is to start by drafting an ideal candidate profile. For example, will you be hiring someone brand new to the industry so that you can train them in your firm’s sales and consulting methodologies? Or will you be seeking someone with 10+ years of sophisticated experience in a much larger firm with an established clientele? Obviously, those are two entirely different profiles that will imply different approaches to career opportunities, compensation and a myriad of other issues. Be as specific as possible about the skill sets you expect your ideal candidate to possess.
Consider the experience level you prefer. Do they need experience working the mid-size client market? Should they have experience with self-funded plans? What personality type fits best with your management style and your corporate culture? Remember, if you want an experienced candidate, you want someone with a proven track record of success who is not seeking a job and is content where they are today.
Once you have developed the profile of your ideal candidate, look at the job description that you may currently have for this position. Is it still accurate? Does it need to be modified? If they are to have business development responsibilities or personal sales goals, you should not have account servicing expectations for them, right? Do you require candidates to have any professional designations? What about public speaking skills?
Think about the top two or three objectives that you want this resource to accomplish and focus on those skill sets and personality traits that are most needed. It will make it much easier to draft an accurate job description that will begin to communicate your expectations right from the outset. You will have a better idea of what you are really looking for, and perhaps more importantly, you will be able to articulate what type of candidate you are seeking as you start your market outreach.
Casting a wide net
Where will you find candidates that come close to your ideal profile and meet the criteria in your job description? A logical place is to start with some of your existing business relationships. Talk to your best carrier representatives and ask them who they know who fits your specific criteria. Remind them that you are not asking for names of people who are looking to make a change in their careers necessarily. You want the best names because you expect to select and not settle given the time, expense and energy you will be investing in this hire. Consider talking to your banker, accountant, attorney or other trusted advisors for their recommendations.
Talk to your best current producers also. They likely know who their toughest competitors are. It’s to their benefit to get them on your team. Or ask your best service staff employees. It’s surprising how many couples work in the same industry but in different capacities. If their significant other is already in benefits and insurance sales, they will understand exactly what you are looking for, and they will have an appreciation for the hours and dedication that are required. Likewise, some of your best clients or centers of influence are possibilities as well. Let them know your business has enjoyed sufficient success that you are expanding, and you only want the best candidates to work with them and their contacts.
As a business owner, sales manager or internal recruiter, asking for names needs to be a way of life. It needs to become part of your everyday activities. You should always be on the lookout for successful, driven people who can add value to your practice and will be challenged by the type of career opportunities that your firm has to offer. You will be pleasantly surprised at how many qualified candidates may be willing to listen to information about your career opportunity. Set a personal goal of talking with a minimum of two people per week who could recommend candidates to you.
In a very short period of time, you will have a list of candidates who have been recommended by someone you already have a relationship with and presumably you have some respect for their judgment.