Over 30 years of selecting, coaching and encouraging sales people has taught me one thing; to build a successful sales team you must have a plan. I think the biggest mistake most of us make is assuming too much.-thinking that the promising people, we hire, know how to best apply their talents and skills.
Almost everyone, talented or untalented, skilled or unskilled, needs help in first, the identification of their talents and second, determining the skills that are necessary to excel in a new job. Remember that no one begins a new job with a goal to fail. Everyone wants to succeed. They may not know what they need to do to succeed but that is one of the things they look to the employer to make clear and guide them to. But, often we don’t.
Here are eight steps you can take to improve your results and increase your agency or company profits.
- Know What You Expect from the Job.
Most agencies and companies are fuzzy about job expectation. Yet, almost every candidate I talk to has told me that one of the most important things they want to know about a potential job is “how will my performance be judged?”
Cloudy job expectations are not unique to the Insurance Industry. Every industry, including the Insurance Industry, can achieve better, more significant results, overall, by taking time to clearly define what is expected from the job and the person filling it.
An important point to remember is that when it comes to job descriptions, “less is often more.” Don’t make the job description so long and detailed a candidate will not read it. One thing we found very effective is to restrict job descriptions to one page and ask the candidate to read it, initial and date it in the first interview.
- Know the Skills and Talents Necessary to Superior Performance in This Job.
Every job has its own needs. There may be skills and talents that can be used in other places but it is important to remember that when hiring-you are hiring to fill one job – focus and know the needs of that job. If a job requires a certain skill, don’t hire someone who you think can learn the skill. Look for someone who already has it.
Understand that there are skills and talents that can be seen and observed but there are many you cannot see or observe for any number of reasons. Just make certain, that you know, as best you can, those that are critical to success.
- Have a Proven, Trustworthy Evaluation Tool to Help You See What You Can’t See.
Yes, we are talking about the use of assessments. Don’t be afraid of using an assessment that measures potential and those things you typically can’t see, like; Job Skills, Behavior, Motivators and Emotional Intelligence. Many studies establish that most companies use some form of assessment. Just make sure you are using a tool that measures the talents and skills needed in the job you are filling. If you stick to that plan, you will never have your hiring methods questioned by anyone.
- Be an “Interviewing Expert.”
Most of us are not interviewing experts. In fact, if the truth were known, many of us are lousy at the interviewing process and many an interviewee knows more about the process than the interviewer. Yet the interview is a critical “confirmation piece” to making the perfect hiring decision. It is especially useful in determining if the candidate is using the talents and skills necessary for the performance in the job for which they are being interviewed.
One of the biggest secrets to being an “expert’ among interviewers is to be prepared. The key to a great interview is to know what you want to know and the questions that are likely to reveal that information. That translates into knowing the questions you are going to ask before your interview shows up. Know the answers you want to hear and be prepared to listen to the candidate when they answer your questions (Don’t be afraid to have your questions written down).
- Use a Specific, Time-limited “Offer Letter.”
Few of us like surprises, especially someone applying for a new job. Applicants want to know how they will be compensated and they dislike any mystery when it comes the pay the receive for their work.
So lay out the compensation clearly in an offer letter. Include a start date and an expiration date of the offer. Make it look official and “solid.” The “offer letter” will go a long way in making you and your organization look professional and trustworthy.
- Have a Success Track for Them to Run On.
I can not tell you how many talented and deficient new hires I have seen fail simply because they did not know what to do and how to do it. We often make the mistake to assuming too much, believing that our new hire knows how to best apply their talents and what exactly to apply them to.
Make certain you have set, at least enough milestones for every candidate to carry them through their first year of employment.
It is very important that the milestones be laid out in writing, so they can be referred to during the coaching process.
- Assign Them a Coach.
When you make a new hire you are making a major investment in your organization, everything you can do to help your hire be successful is likely a good thing. Just remember that most top performers did not start out that way and most needed and received some coaching along the way. Assigning a coach to help them apply their talents and skills to do the job you want do is almost a no brainer.
- Review Their Progress Regularly.
Superior people want people to “watch.” They want to be noticed and believe that someone cares. You can be that person by doing no more that reviewing their job description with them quarterly and asking how they think they are doing and what you can do to help them achieve your goals and theirs.
I cannot tell you the percent of improvements in your bottom-line these steps will make but I can tell you that they helped me reduce turnover from 49 percent to just 8 in less than two years. Anyone who runs or manages a business will assure you that reducing turnover will improve your profits considerably. If that appeals to you, you can begin today.