We have published John Chapin’s articles in the past and like his insights into all things business. We found this one a couple of weeks ago and considering the problems many of us having hiring, Weekly Industry News thought you would find it interesting as well as useful.
It happened again last week… I was brought into an organization that did a poor job of hiring and had a bunch of salespeople who weren’t doing what they were supposed to be doing because they either had a poor attitude, poor work ethic, or both. Some difficult conversations ensued and afterwards I was asked what could be done to make sure the salespeople were doing what they were supposed to be doing. Here is my answer.
The most effective way to ensure people do their job is to hire correctly to begin with. If you hire the right people, you don’t have to hold their feet to the fire to get them to do what they’re supposed to be doing. If you hire people with the right attitude and work ethic, they will do the work. And while you do have to guide them and, as Ronald Reagan said, “trust and verify”, for the most part, you can rely on them to do the job you hired them to do. If you hire people with either the wrong attitude or no work ethic, they’ll do as little as possible to fake people out that they’re working in order to stay on the payroll as long as possible. You’ll go crazy trying to hold them accountable but at the end of the day, you’ll be worn out, they still won’t be doing the job, and you’ll have to let them go after spending a bunch of time, effort, and energy, not to mention money. So, step one is hire correctly. If you want me to send you my Rules for Hiring, just e-mail me and I’ll be happy to do so.
Next, reward your workers and punish your non-workers. Give people doing the right things plenty of praise. Also, reward them with gifts, bonuses, and other items that will motivate them. Use the stick with the people who don’t do what they’re supposed to be doing. So, rewards for people doing the right things and consequences for people not doing the right things.
On a related note, if you’re one of the organizations that require salespeople to do call reports to ensure they are making enough calls, stop doing this with your good people. If someone is doing lots of good, clean business, and it’s obvious they’re doing what they’re supposed to be doing, don’t punish them by adding this task. It takes valuable selling time away from them. On the other hand, if you have people who aren’t making the sales and you know aren’t making the calls, then force them to document who they’re calling. Have them include: the company name, name of the person, and contact information: phone and, if possible, e-mail. Then check up on them. You do this two ways: one by calling the contacts, and two: by going on the road with these salespeople. One of my favorite techniques is to call them during the day, ask where they are and where they are headed to and say, “Great, I’ll meet you at your next stop.” When it becomes clear they aren’t making the calls, which you already know, it’s time to either let them go immediately or give them one final ultimatum. By the way, the latter usually doesn’t work for long, if at all.
All of the above said, you probably know within a week or two whether or not you made a good hire. I discover this very quickly when I start working with a new organization. One of the first things I do is to ask each of the salespeople to give me the number of new-business calls they’re willing to commit to on a weekly basis. I do this before I meet with them in person. The salespeople with the right attitude and work ethic are usually realistic or high on their number. Also, they are usually already making that number of calls, or, if they aren’t, they immediately start making that number of calls. In other words, they don’t wait for me to tell them during our first in-person meeting. The bad-hires either say they are too busy to make new-business calls, give me a low number, or give me a number they think I want to hear, even though they have no intention of making the calls. In addition, they always wait until the in-person meeting to start making calls as opposed to proactively making the calls as soon as they commit.
The bottom line is: if you hire correctly, your people will require very little accountability and hand-holding, but if you hire incorrectly, you’ll have to do massive amounts of accountability and even then, you still won’t end up with the results you want.
Important note: I find that executives with a background in sales usually do a poor job of hiring salespeople. Most of them see the best in people and they are designed to connect with and get along with people. This can be a detriment when hiring. You only see what people are really like when you move them out of the relatively comfortable interview seat and put them through a rigorous, well-thought-out hiring process. Look, most salespeople are great interviewers, especially the ones that go on lots of interviews (ones that jump from job to job for a number of reasons). If you don’t ask difficult questions, put any heat on them, or, have any real hurdles in your hiring process, anyone is going to look good. You’ve got to test people and see how they respond and react.
John Chapin is a motivational sales speaker and trainer. For his free newsletter, or to have him speak at your next event, go to: www.completeselling.com John has over 31 years of sales experience as a number one sales rep and is the author of the 2010 sales book of the year: Sales Encyclopedia. You can reprint provided you keep contact information in place. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
John Chapin, Author of the 2010 sales book of the year: Sales Encyclopedia (Axiom Book Awards) – also the largest sales book on the planet (678 pages).