Harvard Business Review recently quoted “At most companies, people spend 2 percent of their time recruiting and 75 percent managing their recruiting mistakes” Harvard Business School article.

    It’s certainly an easy trap to fall into…

    Here are some excuses from those who have fallen into the Hire Fast, Fire Slow trap.

    “But I needed to hire someone right away”
“But they came with great referrals/industry knowledge/product expertise”
“But I didn’t realise the cost of a bad hire before it was too late”
“But they interviewed so well, and my gut told me they would work out fine”
“But I thought I’d hired a Superman. I didn’t know he was a David Brent”


    MYTH - We hire when we need someone.

    FACT - An interview with two needy people, one who needs to fill a vacancy, and another who needs a job, results in a bad hire.

    MYTH - My gut will tell me. I know a good sales person when I see one.

    FACT - All sales people, good and bad, have great CVs and interview well.

    MYTH - I need to be good at identifying people who can sell

    FACT – There is a huge difference between those who can sell themselves once in an interview and those that WILL. Charm and being personable are not indicators of being able to behave consistently on a daily, weekly monthly basis as a sales machine.

    MYTH - We have a long sales cycle, so it will take a long time for us to determine if they are working out.

    FACT - With an appropriate on-boarding process, hiring mistakes can be identified in 1-3 months, no matter how long the sales cycle.

    Just as top sales people recognise prospecting is key to sales success, top performing companies, recognise that searching for talent and creating the appropriate systems and processes, is key to business success.

    Ask your local business advisor for help with building your own “Hire Slow, Fire Fast” process before you spend 75% of your time in 2015 managing your mistakes.

    Nigel Dunand

    Nigel Dunand

    Nigel Dunand runs Sandler Training in the Midlands based at the Innovation Centre in Longbridge.

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  • 3 questions to ask yourself when hiring

    Over the past few months, I have had a number of conversations with owners and directors which are broadly similar.

    ‘We’re becoming more confident, seeing more opportunities. I’m thinking about hiring a sales person’. OK and..?  Well, I really need somebody in position within a few months, they need to be performing straight away,  I can’t afford to get it wrong, the last one hired wasn’t that good, we tried for 6 months and then had to get rid of them’.

    So, what are you going to do differently this time?

    I don’t know – do you have any ideas?

    Yes, start 6 months ago.

    Sorry, that wasn’t very helpful, but it’s the truth. You are where you are, but with that sort of approach you are setting yourself up for another hiring failure.

    If you are thinking you might need to recruit a sales person in 2015 or even next year, the time to start is now.

    Let’s just ask ourselves a few questions, starting with the obvious.

    1. Do I really need to add another person?

    For a moment let’s draw an analogy with a machine. If you were running a factory and you kept adding machines without optimising the output from your current capacity you would become uncompetitive and ultimately go out of business. Yet people add headcount to sales teams without even questioning if they can get more out of what they have.

    Do you have the data to analyse the performance of your current sales people? Have you compared the best to the worst? Do you understand where the differences occur and have you tried to develop/coach them to adopt the best practice?

    Have you templated your prospecting/sales process and examined where efficiency gains could be made? Could adopting a systematic approach to sales drive continuous improvement across the board?

    To hijack an old phrase from the quality manual ‘Do you even know what good looks like?’

    If training and developing your current team could enable you to achieve the same or greater sales growth than adding another person – which option would you take?

    1. Should I add or replace?

    Let’s assume you have done all of the above and you have seen some improvement. Have some not demonstrated an improvement or even a willingness to try? What is the impact of retaining them in your business?

    Potentially a risk that they pull others back down and possibly they themselves feel under pressure and unhappy in the role.  Certainly it requires a conversation and an examination of the possibility of redeploying them elsewhere or finding out if they are also looking to move on and need some assistance to find a better-fit role.

    1. Am I really ready to hire someone?

    Hiring is usually one other thing that managers can barely afford to devote any time to. After all, if it doesn’t work out it’s probably only going to cost £20-30K by the time you add up all the costs of the 6 month they get to prove themselves. Not much?

    So don’t make it an event. Continuously build links with people who you would like to add to your business.  Using the understanding you have developed in 1, build a picture of the type of qualities you need in a good hire. Don’t forget, having improved the current team you will no longer be replicating ‘average’ but adding in at a higher level. Consider also strengthening your hiring process through the use of a systematic approach and tools such as behavioural profiling.

    Stop thinking that your next sales hire is still 6 months or so away. Start evaluating and improving your current sales resource and preparing the ground for your next recruit to join an already high performing team.

    If you want to talk further, contact your nearest Sandler Trainer about how we may be able to help save money on hiring and get more from your current sales resources.

    Gary McKinney

    Gary McKinney

    Gary McKinney runs Sandler Training in Yorkshire, based in Leeds, helping business owners regain control of sales and achieve significantly improved sales results.

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  • The story of John – or is this the story of YOU?

    John runs his own very successful business … the product he delivers is outstanding … really high quality and his clients are more than happy to refer him to people they know … sounds perfect doesn’t it?

    The reality … John delivers an outstanding product … for those who were willing to stay the course through his sales process or perhaps we should say his lack of a professional sales process.  I’m sure this never happens to you, but it was not unusual for John to experience the following;

    • Spending a lot of time going to see prospects, providing quotes only to then find that he didn’t get the business and wasn’t really sure why
    • Finding it difficult to persuade prospects to pay a premium for quality – everyone wants a discount – no deal no sale!
    • Giving prospects lots of advice on what to do and how to do it – only to find they used the knowledge to shop around – we call that free consulting

    John hadn’t had a weekend off in months; his brain was constantly running over what needed to be done – contacts to be made – people to see – lots to do  – and never enough time in the day to do it. He promised clients he would get to them within tight timescales and then worried that he had overcommitted himself. John felt he was working his a** off but not getting anywhere … but he knew next week would be better … wouldn’t it?

    It is not so easy to charge a premium for quality if the quality doesn’t start until the sale is complete.

    John had a relatively traditional approach to selling:

    • Every call was an opportunity – at least go and see them, after all, there might be business in it
    • Once there assess if prospect could use his product
    • Tell them all about his product
    • Try and close the deal
    • Overcome any objections they might have
    • Promise to prepare and send a quotation (which would then disappear into his ever growing administration pile, or indeed, theirs)

    In the meantime his prospects were:

    • Misleading about their interest – sometimes they just needed 3 quotes and John happened to be one of them
    • Getting as much info as possible – that way they can shop around or do it themselves
    • Committing to nothing, giving him positive feedback and saying they just needed to think it over
    • Disappearing – I’m sure we all know someone who has not taken the follow-up call from that sales rep they just didn’t want to say no to

    In a busy marketplace how much do YOU invest in differentiating yourself by how you sell and NOT what you sell?

    John now has a sales process – he differentiates himself by how he sells – demonstrating his quality from the start.  As a result, he is:

    • Winning more business
    • Wasting less time – working less hours
    • Actually having weekends off
    • Sometimes even enjoying selling
    Lesley Mcluskey

    Lesley Mcluskey

    Lesley has held senior management positions in sales, operations, change and distribution and was Operations Director of a fast-growing business within a major global organisation responsible for a team of 500+. She established her business in 2008, initially focussing on management consultancy and developing growth strategies. Not long after starting her business Lesley became a client of Sandler to help improve her sales skills and today she responsible for the strategy, leadership and management practice within the Sandler Scotland business. With a passion for coaching Lesley is recognised for her ability to help others achieve their goals both personally and professionally. Lesley studied at Lancaster University and in 2005 completed her MBA studies specialising in Performance Management.

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