How To Hire Your Next Great Seller

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(By Laurie Kahn) The number one most important thing needed to hire your next great seller is: Don’t wait until you have an opening!

When I hear about a company dictate to hire multiple salespeople in the next 30 days, I shake my head and wonder what in the world that corporate team is thinking. Even a dedicated team of recruiters will find that this is an impossible task. Managers, who are already stressed, try to find anyone who has any interest to hire, then train, and hope that some of them will end up staying. Not the correct way to hire great sellers.

This takes us back to the early ’90s, when a major broadcaster sent out an edict to hire as many sellers as possible and see who sticks. Ouch! Not only is this a costly mistake, it can end up hurting your ability to hire in the future.

Companies that don’t have an established recruitment strategy in place, that don’t build and update a list of potential hires at all times and that fail to build strong relationships with those who have been interviewed in the past and were not interested, or not right at that time for that particular position, will have a tough time.

To hire a great seller, the company needs to be confident that it has the culture, training, support, and compensation that it will take to land those sought-after, successful sellers. And they need to be promoting to their community and industry that they are the top company to join for a successful career and lifestyle.

Let’s be honest: People are not jumping through hoops to get a job in radio sales. Those days are gone. All companies, not just in media, are trying to hire good sellers, so the competition is fierce. Unemployment is down, wages are rising, and anyone with good sales skills knows they can be picky about what company they will join.

For years, the radio industry has done an excellent job of reaching listeners, marketing to increase the number of listeners, and creating fun events, promotions, and programs to keep the listeners engaged. Now you need to connect with those listeners and with other local business professionals to let them know why they should work in radio, and at your company.

Start building a talent pipeline. Think about the skills you need and where you can best find those people. With noncompetes, it probably won’t be from your competitor, so be open to who in your community employs the types of people you want to hire. Find out how they’re paid, what their potential is, and how you can persuade them to join your team. Reach out to those people and start building a relationship. Touch base with them throughout the year. Treat them just as you would a target account that you are trying to close; keep selling so that when they are ready, you are top of mind. It may take time, so have patience. Don’t take no from those you really want — you never know when things will change.

Market to your community why you are a good company, what you do to give back, and how well you take care of your employees. Loyalty, longevity, training, strong ability to earn, happy employees, and satisfied clients will do a lot to help you recruit.

Those companies that are trying to hire multiple sellers in a short time: I foresee that most of those hires will not make it, the morale at the station will be down, and people in your community will label you as a company that churns employees and thus not a good place to work, adding more challenges to your hiring.

Knowing what you need in a seller, laying out realistic expectations, and being able to offer compensation that someone can live on during their on-boarding period is crucial. As long as someone understands what is expected and that there is a safety net to financially hold them over until they are billing enough will greatly improve your chances of landing that future superstar. Discussing 100 percent commission with a three- or six-month guarantee is scaring many away, so don’t position your sales jobs as “commission-only.”

To sum it up: To hire the best, have an established recruitment plan, include accountability to ensure your managers are recruiting all the time, build and court a pipeline of potential candidates, and promote your company locally and to the industry.

Laurie Kahn is the creator and founder of Media Staffing Network. She has worked with media companies since 1993 helping them hire top managers and sellers.

1 COMMENT

  1. I gather that hiring anyone with a pulse who is sober much of the time and who also had the charges dropped is no longer a good strategy…? 🙂
    There was a time when Laurie’s principles would have served well in the hiring of on-air talent, as well. But, since the criteria of skills and attitudes has been fractured…..

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