It’s long been a strategy when hiring in the sales field, regardless of the industry, for managers to seek out seasoned sales professionals with a strong client base and high levels of customer commitment.
With them will come their book of business, their array of loyal customers, who will happily shift their business your way, just to continue to do business with someone they know and trust.
Or will they?
The truth is, in many industries, we find that only part of that business follows the sales professional. Sometimes, less than half of the business follows them.
But regardless of whether the business follows or not, it raises a key question: is this the best way to grow?
The landscape of business is changing, and the customer is changing…and as they do, so should you.
This is not to say veteran performers are not valuable—they are, and always will be. But “buying a book of business” by hiring a new employee can sometimes be a short-term solution that may or may NOT be right for your company.
Pro sports teams frequently sign veteran free agents for the stretch run of their seasons, as part of a final push for the playoffs. But how many of these players are still around the following year? They provide a temporary lift, but this strategy is rarely a long-term proposition.
The wisest move is often signing the best player available, regardless of their press clippings. It’s the same in business. We need to bring on the best employee whether they necessarily have the book of business or not.
Driven, focused producers working from a strategic and targeted game plan can establish themselves pretty quickly, and build new clients for your organization from the ground up.
Now, we are not saying that hiring someone with industry know-how or contacts isn’t a good idea. It IS a good idea, and it will shorten the ramp-up for that new hire.
But if you look around your industry, chances are the age of the average employee is creeping up, year after year. We keep “trading players” from team to team. But who is scouting the new talent? Who is truly recruiting the players with the skill sets needed to continue to grow year after year? Where are we looking for that talent?
And, perhaps most importantly, how are we convincing them that our industry, company, or team is the right one for them to join?
All of these questions need to be top of mind as we go about our recruitment and hiring. Building loyal customers is everybody’s job…and when it’s time to bring in new talent to lead that charge, remember to keep the focus on their skills, abilities, and attributes.
This is one time that going by the book isn’t always your best bet!
Grow Big or Go Home!