Here’s how Peggy Noonan begins her article in the Wall Street Journal:
“We’re in the midst of breath-catching revolutions in how America lives and works. Working from home, as an issue, is still shaking itself out, but its implications are huge.”
Recently, I heard this mentioned at the beginning of a Recruit the Best expert certification to the brainstorming question, “What changes in the last 1-2 years affect recruiting?” Very quickly those being certified said, “The desire to work at home.”
Peggy in her article goes on to say, “Retailers big and small struggle to find and retain employees. Beaches and pools can’t find lifeguards. Police forces can’t find young men and women to apply. The U.S. Army can’t find recruits. Doctors’ offices strain to fill a job when somebody leaves. Airlines are so short-staffed there’s no one to help you find luggage that’s been lost for two weeks. There’s no one to keep it from being lost. The other night a Midwestern city official told CNN, of the struggle to hire cops, “It’s like the American workforce vanished.””
The Resignation of the American Workforce is Everywhere
This hit me at home today. The men building an extension to my barn and outbuildings ordered concrete only to be informed this morning that the concrete company didn’t have anyone to drive the truck today.
We’re seeing what Peggy writes about from IT staffing companies, to cellular retail stores, to large insurance firms finding agents, to someone being available to drive a concrete truck. Where are the people?
Ms. Noonan in the title of her article suggests that actually “The Great Resignation Started Long Ago.” and today we’re experiencing unprecedented challenges trying to fill jobs. There are 11 million job openings and only six million unemployed workers.
It seems that COVID, the business closings and re-openings, left a workforce that reevaluated its priorities and took on “a willingness to prioritize other things in their life beyond whatever job they held.” People decided to change their jobs and their lives—especially in bad business cultures that didn’t care about them.
I heard from a top insurance executive recently that they changed a very large turnover number by a large percentage just by paying more attention to people during their on-boarding. New employees today are deciding quickly whether to stay or leave based on working conditions. COVID and its aftermath created a huge shift in the decisions that people make about being employed, where they are employed, and many have even opened up their own business to obtain better control of their lives.
How to Find and Retain Great Salespeople
So, here are 3 recommendations I’m going to make to the sales leaders in America—those with growing companies needing the next wave of sales talent.
First, prospect for talent, and do not wait for it to come to you through advertisements or word of mouth. While this advice has always been the best advice when recruiting salespeople, it is especially necessary now. I want you to go after working and competent salespeople through reverse searches in Indeed, through a group of 25 centers of influence that you develop, or from referrals you ask for from current employees or from customers. When you do this, look for working sales reps who want a better opportunity or a better environment to work in.
Which brings us to the 2nd recommendation. Work hard, like the insurance company I mentioned, on your onboarding process to make it better and personal to each new recruit. Develop ways in the first 90 days to show them they will be part of a family—that they will belong—that you, the company, and its customers need their talents. Sit down with them and get to know them. Tell them what you see in them, how they will grow, and how they will experience fulfillment and purpose at the company while being a part of the company’s important mission toward the world. When you do this, remember what you say will not only be about selling at a certain level, but, more importantly, it will be about their growth, transformation, and the impact upon the world and the people in it by what they do representing the company and its products.
Finally, embrace coaching and mentoring people as an important part of what you do as a sales leader. Continue to get to know each person as an individual. Bring them into your company as a family member. Help them and yourself discover their number 1 motivation. Help them increase their ambition in making the world a better place for themselves, their customers, and their families through how much they make, how they make it, and what they do with their money to make life better. For your competitive and ego-driven best reps, pay attention to their need for recognition and achievement. For those conscientious reps motivated by duty, help them understand the expectations of them within the team and company as they serve others.
You have what it takes to meet the challenges of the great resignation and reevaluation of employment going on in America today. You can get out and prospect for the best salespeople just like you teach salespeople to prospect for great customers. You can create a wonderful first day, first week, and first 90 days of employment for new recruits, and you can continue to learn to coach and mentor the sales individuals that are a part of your team.
As you do, remember this. Years ago, especially after World War II, the family structure was pretty sound and vibrant in America. Those in sales leadership called themselves managers who managed their salespeople by objective. No one was called a mentor or a coach. Today, less people have experienced a rich family life that helped them understand their unique gifts, value, and place in the world.
Today, we need mentors and coaches in business that make a difference in their rep’s sense of belonging, purpose and transformation. You can learn to be this leader. You have what it takes to stop the great resignation and make enriching environments for those you lead.