The Right Way – How to Find, Develop and Keep great sales people?

It is important for the Right Things to be done at the Right Time (I’ve covered these earlier) in the Right Way, this can be broken into three parts – being Truthful, being Respectful and being Professional and these should be viewed from both the employer and the employee.

Finding People

It is important to be Truthful when recruiting people which means being honest about what to expect in terms of culture, activities, results, start & finish times, travel etc…etc…,etc. The reality is the reality, you may as well start with your integrity intact; as Thought Leader Georgia Murch says “people will hear your content but smell your intent” so make sure yours is clean!

Both parties should be Respectful in undertaking due diligence. This means talking to as many people as you can to get an understanding of what to expect. There are many ways to research who people (organisations) are and how they have performed previously. Years ago I accepted a role where there had been two people before me and two after me, all of whom were “released” from the organisation. On a count back that is a total of five people who had their careers disrupted before the organisation did anything about the line manager. I would have found this out had I undertaken good due diligence and never would have taken the position. Whilst I learned a great deal from the experience, it was difficult for me at the time and I am sure the others, but the organisation paid the ultimate price with a toxic culture and huge staff turnover costs.

Any recruitment (finding) process should be Professional; there is nothing to be gained and too much to lose from lying to candidates about how many have applied, their fit or chances in a role; ditto on the candidates side. I have seen, and been on, the end of some horrendous processes including applying for an internal role and being told by the CEO that I would get an interview only receive, that same day, a letter from HR saying “thanks, but no thanks”. I had low expectations in the first place and my employer still failed to live up to them….

Developing People

Regular feedback on what the individuals / teams are doing well and where they require improvements, whether in annual performance reviews or a conversation in the hallway, is important and management needs to recognise that. Likewise, if conduct is unbecoming of company culture it is best addressed with the individual(s) Truthfully & Respectfully.

Different people learn in different ways and at different times; being Professional means companies need to understand what the requirements for their individuals and teams are to develop into more effective employees / better people. There is nothing worse than an organisation putting their staff on a development program that is just ticking a box – ultimately these employees feel disengaged (at worst?) or end up leaving (at best?).

Keeping People

Most humans love to grow and learn and not all companies can accommodate this; likewise, employees aren’t always likely to relocate for career advancement. Being Truthful around this from both sides can improve outcomes for employers and employees alike. I find it both hilarious and disappointing when all of us can’t seem to be a little more honest with each other, particularly with the average tenure around three years.

A few years ago I had a high performing sales guy who had been with us three years and I knew he was struggling for motivation and momentum. I told him that it was most unlikely that we would be working together in 10 years’ time so we might as well have fun, make the most of the opportunities to learn and make money. This honesty shocked him initially but freed him up and he went even harder for another two years which was great for him, me and the company.

Another of my previous employees was hard wired for work but had a large, young family – I would never ring him before 9.00am because he was busy helping organise all his kids for school, but could always ring him between 6.00 – 7.00pm if need be. This Respectful approach to his work / life balance helped retain him longer than might otherwise been possible if I had been a little harder on start and finish times. I didn’t always have this approach but being a parent has helped me develop empathy and understand what this is all about.

With 60 – 70% of people leaving their jobs because of the relationship with their one up manager, it is crucial for all leaders to maintain relationships with their employees. Likewise, in an article published in HBR entitled “Managing Your Boss” authors John Gabarro & John Kotter talk about the importance of “….a compatible relationship with your superior is essential to being effective in your job”; in other words all parties have a great deal to gain by having positive and Professional relationships.

Charlie Pidcock