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To attract top notch sales professionals, businesses must start with the basics, think about what keeps good employees on staff, and cover all the bases.  Only then can they start developing all-around sales professionals, and ultimately build recruiting programs that work.

The saying “if you build it, they will come” is actually somewhat true when it comes to attracting and retaining dependable sales professionals.  If businesses focus on building or putting processes in place that help retain good performers, these same processes will attract high caliber applicants.  Let’s face it, it’s a small world and word gets around.  So the question becomes, how do you build a reputation as the place to work?  The answer:  create all-around sales professionals.

Retention as a Recruitment Tool

To attract top notch sales professionals, businesses must start with the basics, think about what keeps good employees on staff, and cover all the bases.  Only then can they start developing all-around sales professionals, and ultimately build recruiting programs that work.

Retention starts with a clear understanding of the job functions and performance expectations. Not only do service advisors need to understand the expectations of their job, but management must share the same vision so both start on the same playing field, making performance measurement a straightforward process.  Managers must take the time to define the role of the sales professionals in their store, establish a process for collecting and sharing feedback and performance metrics, and outline potential rewards for good performance.  They need to inspect what they expect, and continually monitor and coach their people.  By providing counseling, training and a nurturing environment, managers will end up with people who want to work for them.  Finally, managers must show sales professionals that they have a career path with their business.  This can be modeled by hiring and promoting from within.

Role of the Sales Professionals

Most sales professionals roles include requirements similar to these – dynamic, knowledgeable, well organized, enjoys helping people, articulate, and professionally presented.

Performance Metrics

There are a number of ways to define sales professionals’ performance from financial accomplishments to client satisfaction based on direct feedback.  For example, a sales professional may have goals related to how many clients are helped per day; number of orders written; gross sales; sales penetration; and client satisfaction and ratings.  Metrics should be specific and measurable.

Collecting Data

A number of automated systems are available to help track and monitor quantifiable metrics such as sales, clients helped, etc.  In addition, management must proactively seek out and capture client feedback on a regular basis and use it in a positive manner to identify trends and improve processes – not just during performance reviews, but daily if necessary.  For example, if customer feedback indicated a sales professional needs work on communication skills, managers should take the opportunity to counsel and train them so performance can improve.  Simply reprimanding them because they took a wrong turn will not improve performance and waiting long periods – until annual performance reviews, for example – will exacerbate the problem possible to the point of no return.

Attracting the Right Candidates

Once the foundation is in place, attracting the right candidates is straightforward, word will get out, and applications will come in regularly.  Before hiring, be sure to define your recruiting goals to mirror the demographics of your clientele.  For example, if 60% of your business comes from women, be sure to have both men and women sales professionals who can relate to their unique needs, frustrations, and challenges.  Women often prefer to work with other women.  If you serve diverse, multicultural populations recruit bi-lingual candidates.

First, look inside.  Is there an individual with all the right customer and organizational skills? These individuals make excellent candidates for service advisors.

Seek out apprentice programs with local colleges and high schools.  The on-the-job training provided to these individuals ensures that they come on board trained to work your business environment and on your unique processes.  When used correctly, these programs can equate to long-term interviews while still fulfilling the goals of the program.

Sales professionals need to have the empathy and understanding of what the customer is going through, what they need, want and desire.  This gives them the ability to listen and understand so they can take care of the customer.

Identifying clear expectations and establishing and adhering to well-defined processes are the first critical steps in recruiting and retaining top-notch sales professionals.

About the author

Richard F. Libin

Richard F. Libin

Richard F. Libin has written two acclaimed books that help people of all walks…

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