You send out the notice. You get 5 to 500 applications. You ‘have’ to hire someone. You are minus ‘a body.’ Who do you hire?
As a leader, you know that you are only as good as the people around you. Ultimately, you want to hire someone who is actually better than you in the sales process and can bring more new business aboard. But what happens in the process? How can we find a ‘solid’ member with key strengths to convert to a ticket department sales mentality?
Forget hiring ‘a body’and start looking at EVERYbody. Some of the best talent I have brought aboard was found at an ice cream shop, a rental car business, a hospital, etc. I am constantly looking for great talent. We should never stop. But we shouldn’t limit ourselves to a bunch of resumes or just hiring anyone to fill a quota and hoping they swim and not sink. The word sales means ‘to serve,’ so we need someone who understands how to serve a client and, with a little guidance, they will become a stellar sales person also. In serving, they already understand the importance of the needs of the client and how to fulfill those needs…with a little help they can take that same philosophy to the ticket sales department.
Interview with more than basic questions and ‘cute’ textbook questions. Ask thoughtful questions based on the 4 areas of strengths, and you will quickly know a) where they will need additional training, and if you will have the time to do the type of training needed for that area, b) if they have the needed traits to be successful, and c) what type of onboarding would be most successful for them.
If they’ve had team sales experience: dig deeper in the conversation. Are they open to more than one way to sell? Are they open to change…as change is strong from one team to another. On the flip side, what can they bring that would enhance the current culture? In essence, how can they make the department better?
Look beyond the name of the college. I have had a number of teams who want to be able to say most of their hires come from more elite colleges. Many of them ask analytical questions to assess their thinking ability. All well and good, but give me someone who had to work their way through college…someone who went full time and also held down a job. This is a person who knows they have to build relationships, they have goals they need to hit to be able to pay for school as well as make it through school. This is a person who is not afraid to do what it takes to get the job done.
Why do we require a college graduate? We should never eliminate a candidate simply because they did not graduate college. I encourage all of you, as leaders, to take a weekend and go out to the stores, the hospital, some of the stranger places that you wouldn’t normally go to. Step back and watch some of these people in action. Look at their strengths. See who really interests you as a potential rep. Then ask yourself, ‘if I interviewed them and then found out they did not graduate college, would I feel they were not qualified after what I just observed?’
Do we look for people just like us? Is that more of our comfort zone? If so, we are doing the organization a huge disservice. Fresh ideas, animated culture, and true collaboration comes from hiring talented people who are NOT clones of us. Every team somewhere in their mission statements or department statements or disclosure statements comment that they believe in a diverse culture. But do they? If we hire only people just like us, then how diverse is it? How much creativity is sparked? Is culture alive and going off like fireworks?
Are we looking for people who truly want to sell or people we hope to convert to sell? Often we are in such haste to fill that seat with a warm, fuzzy body, we fill it with someone we think we can simply convert to sell. How often does that work? Take the time to find people who really want to sell. I am finding more and more students reaching out to me saying that they believe they want to go the sales route. I have people in the workforce that tell me they just want to be able to go to a job and sell. These are the people we should be looking for. Playing on a sport team and understanding teamwork and hard work is one thing, but wanting to become a salesperson is another.
Have the department interview some of the finalists also. Have them observe areas such as: attraction or distraction? Do they listen or mostly talk? How do they manage their conversations? Are they inclusive to all people or exclude others as they answer to one. Giving your staff solid areas to look for enables them to grow as leaders, and also gives them the chance to observe the candidate in a large group type setting. They have to be the ones to work with this person every day; they should have the opportunity to at least help evaluate key areas.
Hiring should never be a process of asking questions/getting answers. It should be more of a process of observation, assessment, and an understanding of what it will take to get this person to that next level. Interviewing in the hiring process should come with an assessment sheet of understanding of your job once this person would be hired. You assess/strategize your ticket sales department; why not the candidates you are interviewing? Don’t look for ‘the body’….look for the heart and soul of someone who wants to succeed and grow.
There is nothing better and more successful than a mix of people who have strong strengths to begin, and are coached, taught, encouraged and empowered. It all starts with who you hire.
Kathy Burrows, Sold Out Seating
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