Why A System to Hire Sales People Slowly Makes Sense

A series of messages with client Stuart Prentice of First European Ltd in Scotland prompted me this message. I had asked him for his impression of business conditions in the UK. He responded:

“Alan the business and general environment are poor and in my opinion will get worse. Property values still need to fall into line with incomes and when that happens properly there will be far more pain. The stock market is pumped up by low interest rates and governments printing money. Ireland. Portugal and Spain will almost certainly default on their obligations at some point and I would think and then the Euro comes into question.

How these things will play out who knows but they all add to a lack of confidence and well being that we used to have in our professional lives. We have scaled our business down, are taking less risks and lowered our costs. I’ll take people on however I haven’t employed anyone for 6 months despite the fact I run ads and go through testing. I have 4 people in my bank who I would employ if I was more confident but I am doing as you suggest and making recruitment an ongoing programme rather than a reaction to a problem.

I have been enjoying your blogs about the run training. Everything you say is bang on. I do triathlon and much of my mental strength from the last few years has been taken from my sport. People talk to me about triathlon and ask how I can do it. They seem amazed that at man at 47 years old can compete in long distance triathlon events. To be honest compared to running a business I find it incredibly easy. I wish business was as simple as getting up in the morning to do some training !!”

There’s an old sales manager’s adage “Hire Slowly, Fire Quickly.” In today’s rocky environment you don’t want to have to rush to a sales hiring decision. In fact, in any environment moving systematically is something that makes sense. Since the beginning we called it Advanced Hiring System for a reason.

But there’s a caution here – it’s “Hire Slowly” not “Never.”

We’re a bit perplexed and we think some sales managers have put sales hiring on indefinite hold. In fact, our surveys show that quite a few are making no effort to recruit new talent.

This is going to bite those sales managers who are not recruiting in the butt in a couple of ways.

  1. Growth in a sales team encourages new ways of thinking. New sales blood finds new ways to sell the market. Stop looking for new sales talent and face “sales idea stagnation.”
  2. If the economy starts to take off you want some momentum going in your sales department. (Believe me, if a $1.5 Trillion U.S. Government deficit doesn’t cause some growth in the near future we’re all royally screwed)  When the stimulus from the deficit hits all the other sales manager who’re sleeping is going to start to try to hire salespeople, they will all be fighting for the second rate salespeople.
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