Welcome back to footballs’s version of “you make the call”. You are one of 5 sales managers for a medium size company that sells products for the medical device industry. You’ve been a sales manager for 18 months and your best salesperson (we’ll call him Baxter) left for another company outside of the medical device industry. You never had much chance to talk with the rep who left because your boss has told you to hire another rep ASAP and that you cannot use a recruiter. This is your first opportunity to hire a salesperson. Your boss is a hard core don’t-call-me-until-you’ve-found-a-rep kind of guy. He’s long on demand and short on coaching. (There are a lot of these upper managers out there.)
You’re as nervous as a lizard on a hot rock but you dive into the task. You visit some well known resume web sites and you have asked your HR department to work up several newspaper ads in the town where Baxter worked. In the past you worked with Baxter but only visited a few accounts so you don’t know too many customers. Think about this for a minute, then look at the following list of things you need to and/or should do.
1. Without wasting another nano second call Baxter and find out why he left. Was it the company, compensation plan, how you managed him, the industry? Did he get a better comp package from another company? This information is critical because your other reps may be contemplating the same thing or your new hire may come to the same conclusion. Also, potential candidates will ask why the previous rep left.
2. Talk to the other 9 reps in your region to determine what their mood is after Baxter left. Were his problems leaking over into the other reps?
3. Communicate the situation to key accounts in Baxter’s territory. You never know what Baxter might have said to some of them. Also, these accounts need a back-up person to call when they have problems and that back-up person is you-the sales manager. And the most important reason for contacting these people is that, in reality, customers buy from a person not a company. Your customers bought from Baxter and guess who’s lurking in the buyer’s office? You guessed it, the guy who the buyer liked best after Baxter. (If I were in this situation I would travel to Baxter’s territory and meet with customers in person rather than talking to them by phone.)
4. Call the other sales managers in the company to see if they have salespeople they know from other companies that might like to work for yours.
5. Check the HR office to see if there are any sales rep resumes already on file.
6. Talk to your other salespeople to see if they know of other rep’s who might be interested in interviewing with you.
7. Talk with Baxter’s customers to see if they know of some good reps. Obviously, be aware of non-competes if you’re tempted to interview a direct competitor. Also, competitors might interview just to find out more information on your company.
8. Talk to sales trainers in the town where you are hiring.They know a lot of salespeople.
9. If your company hasn’t done this yet make sure they use an assessment tool to evaluate the people you interview.
10. Prepare questions you need to ask during interviews with potential reps.
11. Touch base with other departments in your company to do damage control in case Baxter confided any ill-feelings with other people.
The Final Thought: A sales manager can effectively manage no more than 7-8 people!