Saturday Morning Sales

Kevin Latchford


Good People Are Hard To Find - January 10, 2015

The title of this post may sound familiar. It is a phrase that I’ve heard since I was a child. My father would use this when describing his company. School administrators would us this when describing the need for teachers. Coaches would say it when seeking players to fill certain positions. And here I am using it today.


I recently read an article regarding the loss of an employee. The gist of the article was to look at oneself, you the manager, and ask if you were the reason your employee resigned. Is it your management style, your company culture (or lack of), or promises for employee growth that just didn’t come true. I agreed with almost the entire article, well almost. I felt the article came up short in that not every employee leaves because of you or the company. And so, my post this week is to say goodbye to one of my own team members, and to provide a piece of advice to sales managers.


I’ve lost one of my own. Not just any sales rep either, but my Director of Sales. He was with me for over 3 years and I will be saying goodbye to him on Monday. What did I do or not do? Why has he decided to leave me? Could I have done a better job as a manager? Did I not offer him an opportunity to grow? As the article stated, I must look at myself and my company, and so I did. However, he’s chosen not to leave because of anything with me or the company, but rather to join his family’s business. In fact, when resigning, he asked if we’d take him back if the family business didn’t work out. And the immediate answer was “absolutely”.


Good people really are hard to come by and especially when it comes to ‘A’ level sales people. My team member was an ‘A’ level guy. So naturally, of course, I would welcome him back. But would you do the same?


Some might believe that hiring a sales person is easy. Aren’t sales people a dime a dozen? Nope. Not even close. Sure there are tons of people out there on LinkedIn claiming to be sales people, sales professionals, account executives, account managers, etc. But, are they ‘A’ level? That’s where the tough part of finding a good person comes in.


Sales people may, in fact, be a dime a dozen, but there are only about 1 ‘A’ level sales person in every 12. So, if you are seeking to hire and manage only ‘A’ level talent, what do you do? Seek out candidates that are gainfully and happily employed. Real ‘A’ level sales talent are not without a great job. Second, engage them in a conversation about their success, what’s kept them happily employed, and find out what it will take to cause them to think about a change. Then, have them visit you, meet your other ‘A’ level sales team members, and give them a glance into what it might be like if they were a part of your team. Role play with this person. Find out how they handle adversity in sales. Let them interview you as much as you are interviewing them.


Finding the right person, finding the good person, is not easy and it shouldn’t be. Take your time. And, when you do find them, make sure it is worthwhile for both you and them. Hold onto them for as long as you can and make sure they have a growth path. And, should they or someone else leave, ask what you may have done to be the cause and be prepared to change.


To my soon to be former Director of Sales: you’ve done a great job and you were a good person for our team. You will be missed but are welcome to come back. Good luck, grow in your new role, and stay an ‘A’ level sales person.

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