In 1988, Harvey Mackay wrote the bestseller "Swim with Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive: Outsell, Outmanage, Outmotivate, and Outnegotiate Your Competition."
It's a great book on how to grow your business during a growing economy, a booming stock market, with clearly-understood competitors and no Internet.
Around 2006, I read an even more powerful statement, "The pigs inside your business will destroy you far sooner than the sharks outside ever will."
The lazy, slothful, unappreciative employees that feel entitled to have a job and are left unattended, unsupervised, free to roam, and do as they please inside your company do more harm than any competitor ever will.
Having seen this type of slothfulness more times than I can count in both Fortune 50 companies to the local insurance agency, I agree.
To address this you must hire slow and fire fast.
This means you are always recruiting.
Hold on Wes. You just said 'hire slow,' and now you say I need to be 'always recruiting!' WTH?"
College sports teams are always recruiting even though they only have room for a handful of new players each year.
They know 100% of their athletes will be gone every five years, with the great ones sticking around for as little as two.
These coaches understand that having a recruiting pipeline is the key to stability, longevity, and greatness.
But recruiting does not equal hiring.
Recruiting means developing an attitude of being on the lookout for 5-star performers.
It means maintaining a database, the systems, and processes for recruiting, screening, interviewing, on-boarding, training, motivating, and retaining top talent at every position— from the front office receptionist, to partners, to members of your board of directors, to your salespeople.
Put a Careers tab on your website
Write "We're Looking For Superstars" on the back of your business cards.
Offer bonuses to your staff when they refer good people.
Put the link in your email signature, etc.
In the job description section on your website...avoid putting a job description. (AURGH?!)
Put a “Superstar Description.”
Describe the person you are looking for, including their attributes, motivations, and key personality traits.
Inform them you will be tough but supportive. Rigorous but fair. Focused but human.
You must be like a freshman high school teacher on the first day of class.
You gotta be a bit of a hard-ass initially.
You can always ease up on the students/new salespeople and give them some leeway once you see them living up to the standards you have set and made clear on day one.
But you can’t show up with rainbows and unicorns and Capri Suns® and try to take it all away when they can’t sit still and do their work because they’re amped up on sugar.
When you are hiring anyone—especially salespeople—set the tone up front. (This goes for prospects as well. I call it “close first, then present," which is part of the sales agenda.) Let them know the expectations you have of them and, as I’ve stated earlier, raise your level of expectations for everyone.
Additionally, put the prospective salesperson through a little test when they apply for the position.
Be hard to reach.
Tell them you’re not sure they are what you’re looking for.
See how they respond.
Do they cower and back down or do they buck up? If they buck up, which is what you want, how do they do it?
You want salespeople with backbones, but you want them with some couth and manners as well.
Give them what they’ll get in the real world of selling and see if they really are as good as their resume says.
When you hire them, support them with great sales training, which is NOT product training. (Knowing that this year's model is 3% lighter and made from recycled materials is NOT sales training.)
Explaining to them the benefits of your new features, how your clients will use them to their benefit, and how it impacts every person in your prospect’s organization IS sales training.
Providing them with scripts for prospecting calls IS sales training.
Helping them set realistic short and long term goals IS sales training.
Providing them with daily activity expectations and the tools and skills to execute them IS sales training.
This is how you keep both the pigs and the sharks at bay. (Do pigs swim in the bay?)
There will always be competition and you want good competition because iron sharpens iron. They’ll keep you on your toes. They'll push you to develop more, better, faster than you would without them.
So always take note of what the sharks at your competitors are up to, but spend more time focusing on where your staff is focusing.
That is, if you’re in business to maximize your income.
If you could use a little help in this area, the No More Sales Duds program may be just what you need.
Now go sell something.