What IT Sales and Marketing Boot Camp taught me about hiring best practices

Posted by Lindsay Faria on Apr 28, 2015 2:30:00 PM

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RR_book_signingI just returned from the 2015 IT Sales and Marketing Boot Camp, with no voice and lots of new contacts and insights. At the event, hundreds of managed service providers gathered to hear from industry leaders on business growth strategies. We met with a mix of existing Partners, heard of some recent successes, and were able to meet service providers who we hadn’t yet been in touch with.

One of the key highlights of our participation in the event was our book sponsorship, which meant offering free copies of Geoff Smart and Randy Street’s book, “Who?” from our sponsor table, and we even hosted a book signing with the authors. The book focuses on hiring best practices, and, wow, did it generate some buzz.

Why "Who"?

Many of the event attendees, and service providers in general, are smaller businesses. Starting off as one technician trying their best to serve their customers, manage the company’s finances, and handle sales and marketing efforts is a common story.

Regardless of whether you start out big or small, though, if you’re looking to grow your business, hiring becomes a key concern. Your success is tied to having someone with the right skill set, attitude, and potential help you sell more services. In Smart’s book and his presentation, he offered great insight into The Hiring Blueprint: A Proven Four-Step, No-Fail Method for Finding and Hiring Super Smart, Highly Productive, No-Drama Employees.

You are who you hire

The key takeaway from this is to focus on the WHO, not the WHAT. On average, a bad hiring decision can cost you the equivalent of 30 percent of that person’s first-year potential earnings, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. That means a single bad hire with an annual income of $50,000 can equal a potential loss of $15,000 for the employer.

The A-Method for hiring

1. Refine your approach to defining process – For any open position, rather than focusing on activities you want the person to carry out, focus on outcomes you want them to achieve. When creating a job posting, you want to communicate what the overall goal of the position is and the key measurable outcomes you want that individual to achieve. For example, for a VP of sales, the goal could be to increase sales by 30 percent within 12 months.

You also want to focus on competencies you are seeking – the personal traits and strengths of the ideal candidate. For example, how is their energy level, do they have negotiating skills, do they handle rejection well, are they willing to be taught?  And, be sure to weigh the importance of each of the components. Having a clear “scorecard,” as Smart put it, makes it easy for you to find the right person and measure their performance. Plus, it gives them a clearer expectation of what they are responsible for.

2. Sourcing – To generate a stream of “A-players,” consider where you are finding your candidates. One key thing to think about is incentivizing employee referrals. Your employees are going to refer only top-quality candidates because they want the referral to reflect positively on them. They also know what you’re looking for because they know the ins and outs of the company, and their own success will be tied to that of the person in the role.

It is an investment, but so is paying a recruiter or paying to advertise job postings. And you might start with a much more qualified pool of candidates. If your company is too small to rely solely on employee referrals, why not think about asking your customers or other contacts for referrals?

3. Selection – There are different kinds of interviews you can leverage to help you work through your pool of candidates. 

  • Screening – A quick chat to quickly eliminate those who are clearly not a fit.
  • Topgrading – An in-depth approach where you can determine long-term performance patterns by asking about their detailed career history.
  • Focused – This is a deep dive focusing on the objectives, outcomes, and competencies you put in your job description.
  • Reference – A reference call can offer valuable information, and skipping this step could mean you’re missing a big piece of the picture. Smart recommends doing more than one and having the interviewee set up the reference interviews.
  • Skill-Will Bull’s Eye – Here, you determing if someone’s capability and interests or wants match what you have set up in your job description or scorecard. This is a person’s skill-will profile.

4. Selling – Don’t discount the importance of selling yourself and your company to the candidate. You aren’t the only one who needs to be impressed! And, you need to do more than offer them money. Make sure you show the candidate how they would fit into the big picture of your organization. Be genuine and honest with them, but let them know how much autonomy they can expect. Let them know how much freedom will come along with the position, and be sure they know how fun fits into all of this. You want your employees to like what they’re doing and where they’re doing it. 

Interested in learning more? 

While our stock of the books is depleted, you can order it on Amazon. And, stay tuned, we’re currently working on building a how-to guide for developing a top performing sales team!

 

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