(By Laurie Kahn) Let’s face it, hiring sellers is hard today. Competition to hire is fierce and doesn’t just come from the stations across the street — now you are competing with every local business.
Traditional compensation plans are not being accepted, so forget about the old 90- or 180-day security period and then converting to 100% commission. Stations need to offer a minimum of a 12-month program with measurable objectives to reach during that time. It is important to know what the going rate is in your community and what the cost of living is, so you can develop a plan that is more competitive.
Relocation is almost non-existent except for those rare C-level opportunities. Many candidates won’t relocate due to a spouse’s job, family support, or not wanting to go through the hassle of a move. On an average, we receive 50-plus qualified applications from media people monthly, looking for a new career. We probe if they are “open to relocation” and approximately 90% say “no.” That is a vast difference than when many of us joined the industry.
Culture is a huge part of the decision on whether someone will accept your opportunity or not. Having a strong reputation locally is crucial in your ability to attract the right kind of people. Offering a safe, secure workspace, where teamwork is encouraged and people are able to participate in brainstorming, is a plus. Investing in training and offering a game plan showing what it will take to succeed and being honest about it is a must.
If you continue to promote open opportunities and fail to attract the right people, you have a challenge. Ask yourself:
– Is it your reputation? Do you market how well you treat people? Do you have a strong website that shares positive stories from happy employees? Google your company to see what is out on social media.
– Does your job profile scare people away? The newer generations have a negative image of the word “sales,” and will shy away from those positions. However, often, if they sit down and discuss the opportunity to really learn what “sales” is all about, they change their mind. This happens all the time. To these younger generations, “sales” means sitting at a phone all day making 100+ calls and having the phone slammed down on them regularly. They don’t understand the process, the highs and the fun that sales can bring. Think about a different way to position those jobs.
– Are you asking for something that doesn’t exist? Maybe by opening up your parameters you can find more qualified prospects. Consider brining in two people to work part-time vs. one. Don’t knock out those 50+ who can still add to the bottom line. Or consider bringing on an assistant to handle the inputting so your star sellers can be out on the streets more. This can also be a great way to grow organically.
You may need to consider building a pipeline of potential hires to shorten the hiring time when you have an opening. Do your managers understand how to build one? Do they know the difference between “jobseekers” and “passive” candidates? With the current and future job market tight, the amount of qualified “jobseekers” is diminishing, so without a full pipeline of prospects who are being kept “warm” until the right time, you may continue to struggle to attract, hire, and retain the team you need. Over 95% of our placements are with passive prospects, and I can assure you it is a totally different process than what many managers are used to doing. They need to be marketed to; they need continual communication, much like a target account is treated. Believe it or not, there is an art to landing a passive prospect.
It’s time to get real about recruiting. It needs a commitment, a budget, an education on how to do it successfully, and it needs ongoing attention. You are going to need to pay more, coach and train more, and can expect a much shorter tenure as the next generations of workers won’t stick around for life like many before them. Good employees are your livelihood and it just won’t get any easier to hire or keep them without major considerations.
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.