Hiring sales reps in groups, is it too much of a good thing?

It has been common practice for years for companies to hire sales reps in large groups or classes.  Bringing on many times the true needed amount of associates in anticipation of most of them falling out within the first weeks if not days.  Many managers considering a group of 10 hires and wondering which 1 will last the first 90 days.

Recruiting firms coaching clients to over-hire, because you never know who is going to work out.  Telling stories of candidates that seem totally unqualified turning out to be sales stars for other clients.  Of course, these same recruiters are paid per hire and have a financial incentive to have everyone they can hired regardless of quality.  The darker side of this story is the larger number of washouts that never should have made the cut in the first place.  For every unpredicted success there are hundreds of unqualified candidates costing companies thousands of dollars in training and lost clients and then leaving.

What about larger groups that are qualified?  If a couple of high quality sales reps hired will produce sales and profit, won’t more added to the pot produce a larger return or at least guarantee a high quality person will come out of the mix?  The answer is no.  Once the tipping point is reached, every extra person hired negatively effects the entire group.  The question to ask yourself is, what is the healthy hiring amount?

Only take on the number of new employees your management team can support.  Every new hire needs personal daily attention to be successful.  Expect an hour of management time per hired person for the first month, and then gradually reducing over the first 90 days.  So if you take on a group of 10 sales reps your managers need a spare 10 hours per day to train, answer questions, and supervise these new employees.  If you feel your managers can work in 2 hours per day, aside from their normal tasks, then 2 new hires is the maximum you should hire.  More than that will dilute the attention the employees need, and will cause them all to leave over lack of support.

Match your hiring needs to available leads or market area.  When a company hires a new sales employee there is an implicit promise of potential clients.  If you hire above a reasonable anticipation of available leads the best scenario is a very strong recruit pulling the lion share and pushing out the other new hires.  The more likely outcome is the pool of leads gets over-spread leading to no one achieving success and all leaving.  Your company has a higher likelihood of keeping 2 sales reps hired with adequate access to potential clients, than retaining 2 out of 10 sales reps fighting over the same pool.  If you put too many sharks in a fish tank, you end up with no sharks.

Consider the psychological impact on existing staff.  Hiring well above the perceived need on a sales floor tells the existing staff and new hires that their individual success is unimportant to the business.  Veteran sales staff see a division of potential clients that will drastically reduce their income.  They become resentful of the new employees, and at best will ignore them at worst actively work to get them to quit.  The new staff see the large hiring group and understand that they are anticipated to fail and leave.  The low perceived odds of success, with stories by veteran sales reps of all the people that started and quit before them, creates a toxic soup driving new sales hires out before they can taste any success.

In the end, hiring more than truly needed creates an environment of high turn-over.  A cycle of over-hiring, then drastic fall-off, makes for desperation hiring of marginal talent.  The best course is consistent high quality recruiting.  Bring on small batches of new employees that receive plenty of management attention and access to leads.  Always be looking for the best, means never getting stuck hiring the worst.  Either build a staffing program in house, or find a vendor that will staff consistently year round and isn’t based on volume hiring, but on consistent quality.

For additional questions, or to find out how Recruitment HQ can build a program for your company contact us and get a product demo.  Beat the turn-over cycle.



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