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The Power of the Flywheel Hiring Strategy

Alan Eason by Alan Eason | on February 27, 2019 | about
The Power of the Flywheel Hiring Strategy

If you are in charge of hiring salespeople, you may be feeling desperate.

Things have changed in the past couple of years. Previous top-to-bottom hiring strategies may have worked for you, especially after the crash of 2008.  But not now.

It went like this:

  • Advertise on job boards
  • Get lots of prospects who are looking for jobs
  • Screen, interview and (perhaps) test the applicants until you have a few very good prospects at the bottom.
  • Select the ones you feel will make the best high-productivity salespeople at the bottom of the process.
  • When an opening appears and you need another rep, repeat the process from the top.

But this is not working for a lot of businesses these days.

You may be going through the same steps, but something has changed. The job boards and classified ads are not producing as many good-quality candidates.  By the time you get some people to the bottom of the funnel, you may not have ANY qualified salespeople to choose from.

What happened?

  • In the years after the crash of 2008, many people were out of jobs. Businesses were not hiring that much. Many highly qualified, unemployed people were looking everywhere to find a position. They would answer ads and come through your door. You could get a stack of pretty good resumes.
  • Fast forward to 2019. Unemployment is now at its lowest rate in a lifetime. Sales and sales management positions are at between 2-3% unemployment.
  • The answer is pretty simple. Most good sales producers already have a job.
  • Those coming in from ads are usually less qualified for sales jobs and have little or no experience or sales skills. Many have very low motivation.

What do I do?

You need to keep a few things in mind.

  • Just because a potential salesperson already has a job does not mean that he or she is not looking for a better one. Many seek a more agreeable sales culture, more income, a better entrepreneurial opportunity, or simply a change to a product more fitting to their personality.
  • Thus, they may not be actively “looking” but they may be OPEN to possibilities.
  • If you have a good sales culture and treat people well on your sales teams; if you coach and grow people in your business and reward their effort generously; you might be very attractive to salespeople already employed.
  • But they are harder to find, and you won’t get them in the same places that worked five years ago.

How do you locate these people?  That is the “secret sauce.”

You must expand your networks and find a way into their networks. As you may know, most long-term business progress, including recruiting top talent, hinges on networking even more than advertising. And networking is not easy.  It seems intimidating, because you think you have to spend a lot of spare time going to events, taking people to lunch, chatting up dozens of friends to get their contacts, etc.  That sounds almost like multi-level marketing and we often resist those methods. It seems like a strange and laborious path to take.

[Sales Manage Solutions has an entire online course on how to do this.]

Enter “The Flywheel Effect.”

A few years ago, the famous business guru, Jim Collins, author of the smash bestseller
Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap, introduced the concept of “The Flywheel” into business philosophy. It goes like this:

  • Rather than using a top-to-bottom pyramid-only selling/recruiting method, try being more like a flywheel. 
  • A flywheel does not just take energy out and deliver it once, like a top-down system does.
  • It is circular, and builds up momentum that continues to deliver, even while building momentum as it turns.
  • All energy added anywhere in the system (business culture) gets stored in the flywheel’s momentum and amplifies other parts of the system. The net effect is much more power.

There is a place for top-to-bottom processes. Those are like pistons pushing in one direction only. But even those do not work well unless there is a very strong and efficient flywheel connected and moving and amplifying the energy of the system.

OK then — What does a flywheel have to do with my recruiting good salespeople?

Picture this:  You go out and get the word to many different networks about who you are and what your sales opportunity and team culture are like. You ask influential people to refer people they know to you. You work on your culture to move it to the top.

You start to get a few prospects who are much more qualified than those coming from job boards. You assess them for character and the specific skills needed and hire some who are highly motivated and fit into the job with much lower stress levels.

You onboard them extremely well and coach the entire team much better, after looking at the entire team’s sales skills, learning styles and personalities. The new people are happier, and the team is happier. The team absorbs and passes on more energy.

Excitement begins to grow in your sales force. Turnovers slow or stop. Sales reps get more motivated. Sales activities (like prospecting and setting appointments) rise. Commissions rise.

As new positions open up, you find that your best source of new sales candidates is your existing team. They are telling friends and helping recruit other good candidates.

Word starts getting out to your centers of influence network. They become convinced that your business is a great place to work. They tell more people about you. Other salespeople, looking for a better work environment, let you know they are open to possibilities.

With the higher morale and the higher quality level of your sales team, sales keep moving up. Reps take more home. Customers are also more impressed. Your brand reputation begins to rise in the community. Even prospective customers begin hearing more about you.

With the increased business growth, you need to hire more salespeople.  

The flywheel gains momentum and spins faster. Everything you do to make things better, whether screening better, networking better, coaching better, or even advertising smarter, adds energy to the flywheel.  The faster it turns, the more momentum it transfers to your entire business culture.

Your entire company changes. It moves from merely “good” to “great.”

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Sales Manage Solutions is all about this kind of change. We offer many types of tools and training to help you build that flywheel and energize the different parts of it. We want to see you among the ‘Great.”

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