Is Your Sales Growth Hampered by Inconsistent Recruiting?

In a recent meeting with sales executives, they raised an issue that I see playing out at mortgage companies across the board: handling prima donna originators who generate sizable volume but are detrimental to the team.

One executive described an originator who treated other branch employees poorly, was hard on the operations staff and knew that his managers would not take action because the salesperson produced considerable volume for the company. Why would a sales management team put up with such a person? The obvious answer is volume is hard to achieve today, so management’s reluctance to lose the originator’s volume seems reasonable.

So, how does management guard against being held hostage by difficult top performers? The problem is rooted in inconsistent recruiting efforts and lack of a structured talent acquisition process. This is especially true if the organization has producing managers with too many roles to execute. Recruiting tends to take a backseat to other issues. Similar to the sports world, recruiting new talent is just as important as coaching the current players on the field.

Here are the top five recruiting mistakes I see at sales organizations:

1. Reactive recruiting. Every branch, regional or divisional manager must allocate 30 to 40 percent of their work week recruiting. Why? Finding above-average originators is a time-intensive process that requires continual effort. Too often, managers postpone recruiting until they are forced to hire due to a termination. Good originators have many options that they can pursue so being top of mind requires an ongoing effort similar to marketing to referral sources.

2. Not talking to enough potential candidates. In many ways, recruiting is a numbers game. Hiring managers must contact a lot of potential candidates. Too often, managers panic because of the simple issue that they don’t have enough potential candidates. Step 1 and 2 go together and are critical to being successful in talent acquisition.

3. No structured screening process. First, companies need to have an effective hiring presentation on why the candidate should join your company. Hiring managers fail to answer why their company is a great place to work and why talented people should be excited to work there. Focusing on your products and pricing is a transactional pitch that doesn’t work with consumers or sales candidates. Second, how the candidate is evaluated is critical. Looking at W-2s is not effective because it doesn’t answer the question: is the person a fit for your culture and process?

4. No alignment on expectations. The hard discussions need to occur before the candidate is hired and not after. Too often, being pleasant is thought of as the way to go. The thinking is that if the hiring manager doesn’t rock the boat with the candidate then everything will work out. Wrong. The tough discussions need to be before the manager hires the originator so there is no misunderstanding regarding support and deliverables.

5. Not viewing recruiting as a capital investment. Certainly, senior managers recognize that better recruiting is important for the business to grow. But good intentions are not enough: there needs to be an investment to make recruiting effective. Just as a consistent marketing effort is needed to improve sales referrals, great recruiting is a function of planned activity with a predictable process that is measured scientifically. Holding hiring managers accountable for recruiting success should be an important part of their performance scorecard.

Are your recruiting efforts measuring up? Is it time to re-evaluate them so that your company can meet the challenges of 2015?