The hunt for great talent should never stop. Learn how great sales and service talent can be found in the least likely places.
A few years ago I was working as the head of human capital for a sales organization. As an outsourced sales group, our product clearly was our people. Our ability to attract, retain, develop and motivate talented salespeople was the key to our success. As a result, we were constantly reminded our managers that they should always be recruiting; no matter where they were or what they were doing, they should be on the lookout for great people. Some managers understood this, but others did not. The managers who focused on getting the right people on the team and the wrong people off the team rose to the top of the organization. Coincidently, their teams always seemed to get the best results.
Trying to live by my own mantra of “always be recruiting”, I had an interesting encounter one weekend. I was at the local bowling alley on a Saturday with my family. When we arrived the young guy working behind the counter was on the phone. He quickly acknowledged our presence and told us he would be off in a second. Once off the phone he welcomed us warmly, began a quick dialogue with my five year old and set us up with shoes and an alley. As we began to walk away the bowling alley attendant, Tim reminded us to have fun and told us to please let him know if we needed anything. During the couple hours that we were bowling I continued to watch Tim the bowling alley guy. When things were quiet he found work to do either cleaning shoes, sweeping the floor or walking around checking on customers. He greeted everyone with the same friendly tone and prompt service.
As we were leaving and returning the shoes I asked him if he worked at the bowling alley fulltime. He replied yes and that while it is not what he wants to do long term, it is a decent job. I handed him my card and told him that I was impressed with his work ethic. I told him to give me a call on Monday to discuss a job opportunity.
Monday came and went and Tim never called. A couple of weeks later we were back at the bowling alley and there was Tim working as hard as ever. He immediately recognized me. I asked him why he hadn’t called. He answered, “I looked online and the job requires a degree. I never finished mine.” I told Tim that the degree was important in many people’s eyes, but to me it is the individual drive and work ethic that is most important.
Tim called me at work the following week. He interviewed with a number of people in the organization and they were all impressed. We hired Tim as an inside sales rep. Within the first month Tim emerged as one of our top performers. Not only is he an awesome sales rep, he also proved to be a great addition to the team because of this positive, can-do attitude. Tim continues to this day to excel at his work.
We broke our own rule about requiring a degree, and both the organization and Tim benefited greatly. Personally, I learned an important lesson about identifying talent “in the wild” and heeding one’s own advice. Great people are out there, so keep your eyes open and don’t let bureaucracy get in the way of a great hire”!
Are you “always recruiting” for your company, and are you asking your team to do the same?
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