Need new sales people? Lots of perfect candidates are all around you. And here’s a little secret: They aren’t working for your competitors, either.
On Saturday, after an hour at the gym, I walked out the door to find the perfect recruit for almost any sales business. Standing right outside of his competitor’s door was a twenty-something representing another fitness center. He was assertive, but not aggressive. Conversational, but not confrontational. And most importantly, he was fishing where the fish were.
Now there’s the perfect sales candidate for almost any company!
In some ways he had some natural talent. He was friendly, comfortable meeting new people, and relaxed. In other ways, it was clear he’d had a little training. He asked questions like, Do you use the gym often? What do you like about it? Would you ever consider switching? And, he then listened. When I told him I lived two blocks away and like to walk to the gym, he quickly said, Well, that makes good sense for you, because we’re two miles away. So, good luck! And he didn’t try to convert, convince or cajole me into his deal.
As I walked home, it occurred to me that these people are all around us. Great salespeople at the local jewelry, insurance, computer and clothing stores; even the amazing waitress who can up-sell the nightly special to even the strictest dieter. All we have to do is look, listen, and be open to seeking candidates with the right stuff.
Which is a far cry from what so many industries do. Too often, recruiting candidates is synonymous is poaching the competitor’s best salesperson. And sometimes, not even their best. Yet to steal someone away from a company commonly stems from two scenarios: They are upset with their current boss in some way, or they want more money. Neither scenario strikes me as the kind of person it makes sense to add to most company’s existing sales team.
Mostly, companies recruit competitor’s salespeople because they don’t have to invest a lot of money, time or resources teaching them the business. That’s not the case, of course, if you attract a gym-membership salesperson to become, say, a real estate agent or computer salesperson. They will need some training to switch industries. Yet, licensing issues aside, great salespeople can sell anything: cars, jewels, iPads or houses, because their sales aptitude is far more critical than their commodity knowledge.
And it’s far less expensive to teach product requirements than sales technique.
All of which is a real shame, because the sales sector of the economy is enormous. Salespeople are everywhere; and great salespeople aren’t as scarce as you’d think. It’s up to recruiters, managers and leaders to widen their focus to find them. Sometimes, they are right there in front of you: standing outside the door of their competitor, actively seeking new customers, demonstrating sales aptitude that could be put to use for any product or service.
Perhaps it’s time to stop shopping for sales candidates in all the wrong places, and start selecting from the sales people who show aptitude all around us.