Why do we love magicians? Is it because we like bunnies coming out of top hats? No, it’s because the magic man makes the impossible possible. Now, can a magician make a million-dollar sales producer magically appear for your business? I say yes, and it won’t take magic.
All across America, printing owners are blinking and re-reading that first paragraph. A million-dollar sales producer?
Absolutely. In fact, I had a hunch this was the case even before I talked to Mike Brenk, a long-time recruiter for the printing industry and Managing Partner of Global Recruiters of Clarendon Hills. After I talked to him, I’m a hundred percent sure.
Yes, getting a million-dollar producer doesn’t require black magic, or David Copperfield, or computer-generated images. It does require you get your house in order, in a serious way. Here’s what you’ll need to do:
1. Be willing to look in the mirror. A recruiter will look at you as much as you’re going to look at them. They’re not going to be wooed strictly by cash or bennies. These people need to see that there is potential for success. They’re used to producing, and they want to continue to achieve at a high level.
So before we get into any recruiting specifics, you have to be willing to look at yourself through the critical eye of an outsider. As Michael Brenk told me, “Every company has strengths and weaknesses. Sit down and assess your pluses and minuses.”
2. Define your market segment. In the past, it was easy for owners in the printing or converting industry to give the old “we help everyone” line when defining their market focus. That won’t wash with a top producer. They’re looking for a specific niche segment that’s highly profitable and increases their chance for success.
When I was raising kids (still am, last I checked), I always made sure they weren’t in a position to fail. Do the same with a recruit. Put the person in a situation where they can succeed. They’ll help you climb the mountain, but only if you give them a realistic path.
3. Work closely with a recruiter. Even a larger company with a sophisticated HR department simply doesn’t have the focus necessary to find top-level talent.
Notice I say “focus.” Most HR departments are assigned to a variety of tasks. They have to deal with personnel issues, tax forms, benefits – the list goes on. Their focus is on everything.
A recruiter is focused specifically on finding people. This takes more than running an ad on Monster.com. A good recruiter seeks out the proven winners who aren’t actively looking – who are relatively happy in their current job, but might be willing to move on to a better opportunity.
A recruiter will cost you, sure, but it’s likely going to be far less than hiring a person to specifically recruit year-round. That’s what a recruiter does, and that’s what you need. This is one task that absolutely must be outsourced.
4. Get top management involved with the search. If you’ve made the decision to outsource the recruiting process, that doesn’t mean your job is done. Many business owners think they can put together a job description and a surface-level job description, and then rely on the recruiter to persuade the prospect.
That won’t work. A recruiter is only as good as the information you provide to him or her. If they have good insight into the kind of person you’re hiring, and exactly what your company is all about, it’s easier for them to mold the recruiting message to the potential hire.
If a recruiter brings you prospects that aren’t, it’s also important for you to clearly articulate why they’re not a good fit. That crucial information will make the search more efficient and targeted.
5. Stay within your industry. You may be tempted to bring in a top gun from another industry. A sales person is a sales person, right? Perhaps, but will your timeline allow for months of training for a non-industry specific producer?
Remember, we want to be able to snap our fingers and have someone hit the ground running. If you’ve held up your end of the bargain and created a niched, focused business, then it’s realistic to only hire a sales person who has a similar niche in focus. That way you can capitalize on their connections and not have to deal with a learning curve.
6. Don’t hire anyone. Just fix your business. Here’s a surprising secret: You already have your top salesperson. You know, that underperforming schlep that can’t seem to drum up any business?
Just like with kids, you’ve put him a position to fail. You’re not giving him a product that can be sold. Are you truly providing something the customer wants? In today’s day and age, most of the pre-qualifying is done on the Internet. The salesperson is more a closer, and they won’t close a thing unless you’ve got something that the customer must have.
By now, you realize that hiring a million-dollar sales producer won’t be as easy as pulling a rabbit out of a hat. You’ll have to make some tough decisions, which includes articulating your market focus, and providing a vision of the future.
It doesn’t take magic to pull a rabbit out of the hat. But it does take tricks-of-the-trade. Get your house in order, work with a recruiter by being accessible, open, honest and provide feedback on a timely basis, and PRESTO – that producer will suddenly appear.