Hiring key managers and top sales professionals is an essential competency of every business venture.  This document outlines an eight step system to recruit key people.

 One of the most important functions of the professional sales manager is to recruit effective salespeople.  Hiring a key manager is equally important for a managing director or senior manager.  ‘Recruit in haste and repent at leisure’ probably sums up the single biggest, most costly mistake you will make in management.  It is imperative to take considerable time and care to get the right people that fit you culture, your job benchmark, and the strategic direction of your business.

 1.      Define and Benchmark the Job

Defining the job means writing up the critical parameters surrounding the job, such as the job description, a person profile and the critical success factors that are required to make this job work.

 Benchmarking the competencies that are absolutely necessary for superior performance in this job can be achieved by getting inputs from a number of ‘job experts’ or people who know the job very well, inside your own business.

 2.      Attracting the Right Candidates

Attracting the right kind of people requires a totally organised system.  Your only challenge is to find them, connect with them and sell them your message, your package and your potential.  The best recruiter is yourself and your key managers, so long as you are always in recruitment mode.

 3.      The Filter System

Placing an ‘early warning filtering system’ allows you to save time and money from the outset.  There are three standard ways to filter applicants.  First, have people send by post, or email, written applications, and decide on the next step from there. 

 Second, a telephone screening can save a lot of time, and help get the initial impression of the candidate.  Make a judgement call, right there and then.  Set up an appointment to get an initial interview.

 4.      the Initial Screening Interview

The initial screening interview should take about one hour.  Let the interview go as it will, by allowing the candidate to talk about their jobs, career and business life.  The overall objective is to get an overall view of the candidate, listen to their explanatory style, and to really answer the question:  ‘Is this our kind of person?’

 If you feel the candidate is an absolute for the next step (formal interview), then you should ask them would they like to proceed, and would they mind completing some on-line questionnaires to help with your decision around the job.

 5.      Conducting the Formal Interview

There are four absolute essentials (all of which can be measured), which we need to consider in the interview and recruitment process.  All the other stages are preludes to these four factors.  They are:

  1. How does the temperament of this person ‘fit’ with the behavioural requirements of the job?
  2. What are the motivators of this person relative to the culture and rewards of the job and the company?
  3. Can this person manage or sell, in terms of overall management and sales acumen?
  4. Will this person carry out successfully, the essential practices and attributes of the job in your company?

 6.      Final Interview, Verification and Cross-check

It may be necessary to conduct a third interview before engaging in the cross-check and verification stage.  In fact the ‘3x3x3 formula’ is well worth considering.  It means seeing a minimum of three candidates, three times, with three different people from your company, in three different locations. 

 The cross-check and verification step involves a total review of the ideal candidate.  It is important to avoid compromise at this vital stage of the process.  Cross-checking written references is imperative, and should not be a ‘rubber stamp’ exercise completed in a hasty fashion:

 7.      Decision Time and Making the Offer

Appointing a sales representative or manager is a strategic decision, particularly in a small/medium enterprise.  Having assessed the evidence, and gone through due process, it is imperative that the full management team be behind the appointment. 

 Sales is one of the toughest jobs on earth, and it is essential that you reduce the chances of failure by matching the essential requirements of the job, with the natural talents and competencies of the candidate.  If you get this essential fit right in the first place, then everything else falls into place … the induction is a pleasure.  Training, motivating, meetings, paperwork, follow-up and follow-through, reporting, meeting and exceeding targets fall into place with relative ease.

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