When did the University of Alabama win their last national championship in football?
Alabama fans and sports enthusiasts will roll their eyes at the simplicity of the question and proudly declare January 11, 2016, which is when they played Clemson at the Orange Bowl.
Technically they would be correct. That is when the game was played. However, they would wrong because as any great coach knows, you're only as good as your last recruiting season.
Alabama fielded four All-American starters and six of their starting 22 were drafted by the NFL.
Alabama had five starters ranked as 5-Star players vs just a single 5-Star starter for Clemson.
Looking at some specifics, Alabama's starting quarterback—a team's most vital player— was a 5th year Senior. That means he started at Alabama in the summer of 2011, which means he accepted a scholarship from them in February of 2011.
However, based on NCAA recruiting rules, Alabama was corresponding with him, visiting his high school, watching his games, meeting his parents and his high school coaches during his junior year in high school, which would've been as early as the summer of 2009.
So you could make the argument—and I am—that Alabama won the 2016 championship game nearly seven years earlier when the recruiters at Alabama identified their future starting quarterback.
Alabama has won four national championships in football in eight years. The turnover of players is over 200% in that timeframe.
Yet despite losing 27% of his championship starters to the NFL draft, and 50% overall to either the draft, graduation, or injury, AND losing their Heisman Trophy-winning running back, in their first game of the 2016 season Alabama embarrassed USC this past weekend.
So let me ask you something: how well would your company perform in seven months if you lost 50% of your best people, including the #1 performer in the nation, today?
Would you even be open for business?
Now do you see why I say that the #1 job of a sales manager is to recruit?
If Nick Saban, the head coach of Alabama, had recruited a 5'2" former gymnast as his starting quarterback, would they have won the championship in 2016?
"But Wes, that little guy has a great worth ethic, a wonderful attitude, a pleasant demeanor and he's the epitome of a 'team player.'"
Great. Let him go back to the gymnastics team where he can contribute and leverage the talents God gave him.
But to play him, let alone recruit him, puts the team at risk, the coach's job at risk, and would literally put that guy in harm's way physically.
You need to recruit and nurture "eagles" and let the "turkeys" languish until they go away on their own or learn to fly with the eagles.
Too many sales managers spend all of their time and energy on the duds trying to "coach 'em up," while literally ignoring their superstars.
"But Wes, the superstars want to be left alone. They want to do their own thing. They're self-motivated. It's my job to get everyone up and over their sales quota."
NO IT IS NOT AND NO THEY DON'T!
It's not your job to ignore the superstars and it's not your job to get everyone to their sales quota.
It's your job to keep your top-performers both happy and productive.
It's your job to identify and nurture top sales talent and cut the non-performers.
Nick Saban didn't sit Jake Coker on the bench and say "Hey, let the weaklings, the under-performers, the undiscplined play some more so they feel appreciated and loved."
I played in high school and college. It's brutal.
Stink it up once: get the tongue-lashing of a lifetime.
Stink it up twice: enjoy sitting on the bench the rest of the game.
Stink it up in practice after that: enjoy watching the game from the stands as a former player.
You need to adopt the same approach with your sales staff.
Implement a policy of cutting the bottom 10% of performers every year.
Install a Careers tab on your website that lets people know your doors are always open for top-performers. (Remember this post about All Stars?)
Implement a rigorous program of excellence with your sales staff that starts with weeding out the drama-queens, divas, and job-hoppers from ever even applying in the first place.
Then put the screws to them in the interview process.
Then put the fear of God in them when they start.
Then show them EXACTLY what to do to make their numbers. (You do know what it takes to succeed, right? [I know you don't and you're not alone. Let's talk.])
Now that you've shown them EXACTLY what to do you can measure activity and pay on results.
Then you can implement an atmosphere of excellence by conducting regular training of your staff so they are always improving. (You do have regular training, right? [I know you don't. Let's talk about this.])
Then you'll win four championships in eight years and you'll survive turnover and you'll thrive in times of turmoil and chaos when your weaker opponents are suffering from their self-inflicted wounds that happen everytime they took a short cut and focused on cheap wins today vs. longterm wins tomorrow.
When you have a solid recruiting plan in place, like No More Sales Duds, sales come easy.
How good is your recruiting?
Tomorrow we'll look at the third part of this 3-part series as we consider the #1 job of a business owner.