RecruitingRecruit Character First

Does recruiting character matter? It depends. This was on the Wall Street Journal’s front page today:

“Highflying Medical Firm Falls to the Earth, Its Sales Questioned!”

Court documents and employee complaints and interviews “paint a picture of a company seeking to grow at almost any cost.” An interim CEO with experience running troubled operations runs the company MiMedx, the 5th fastest growing public company in America.

Recruiting a salesperson who will embellish the truth or lie or cheat to make a sale, or who drives the profit per sale upwards by filling a ticket with add-ons without the customer’s knowledge, after a period of time impacts a company’s profits. Gradually, as more salespeople continue the poor sales practices, that company, or a portion of the company, begins to lose customer satisfaction and its public reputation drops. The three most valuable brands in the world are: Amazon, 150 billion; Apple, 146 billion; Google, 121 billion. What is your brand value?

Unless you’re in for the quick profit, you should care who you hire. Every company, large or small, and even its market areas have brand value – a valuation of future net earnings caused by the brand – the public (customer) perception of doing business there which results in future profit and income for a business.

In the MiMedx world, salespeople were including “extra skin grafts” in shipments and charging their customers for them. So, think about your company. What could happen if you hired people with poor ethics? It might take some time, but when the misinformation or misdeeds surface:

  • A company’s brand and reputation or that of a particular market or market area decreases.
  • Customer loyalty diminishes.
  • Repeat business stops
  • Employees with high integrity leave
  • Employee complaints increase (until those with high-integrity are gone)
  • Total profit decreases even while profit per sales may still be high

It’s easy to see that this happens. All of us avoid shopping at places we don’t trust. We even tell others about our negative experiences. This is what happens when companies do not make certain traits nonnegotiable with recruiting. I remember a newly appointed store manager, who was in one of my leadership classes, saying with great emotion how terrible things were at her store. Everyday she was dealing with unethical business practices of past sales reps. The brand of that company in that town was degraded to the point that it would take months to repair, if in fact, it could be done. Much money was lost from previous customers and potential new customers avoiding the store.

Be a Great company now and into the Future!

The best-selling author of Good to Great, Jim Collins, found that the best companies in the world recruited character first.

What does that mean? Make hiring the following traits non-negotiable in salespeople who can sell, and watch the profits soar and your brand value increase. Use screening techniques and structured interviews when recruiting salespeople to find those with the following necessary traits:

  • Honesty
  • Hard work ethic
  • A personal responsibility, and
  • A concern for others

You will find a greater emotional intelligence in people with these character traits. When you recruit character first, you will recruit people into your company with a strong motivation for serving customers well while fulfilling their own personal responsibilities for achieving income levels that help themselves and their families. Your brand will increase in value.

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