Oh Yeah? Well, I Quit!

January 1, 2001

I was giving a seminar last week when one of the managers attending said, "You can’t tell people to work hard in this job market or they just quit." The other managers agreed.

I was giving a seminar last week when one of the managers attending said, "You can’t tell people to work hard in this job market or they just quit." The other managers agreed.

It seemed like the whole room felt that because jobs are so plentiful, we just have to stop pushing our staff or they will walk down the street. Could it be true? Could low unemployment mean the end to staff management?

My mind went back to the "good old days" of the mid-70s. (Ah, the great days of scarce jobs where people would do anything to keep working.)

Maybe today the problem is that we need to sell people into wanting to stay with our company. Sell them into realizing we are offering an opportunity they can’t find down the street.

First, we have to realize that if we have not solved our recruiting problems, the staff is really in charge. Let’s assume you need six salespeople or installers and you have only three. All the power shifts to your staff. They can come in late or do poor work and you can’t fire them. The fact is they know you are short staffed and that you will accept less because today labor is a seller’s market. How can we overcome these problems and keep managing and achieving goals?

Realize that nothing is more important than recruiting a great staff. An average salesperson in our industry sells about 12 systems per month and contributes more than $10,000 per month to the bottom line. There aren’t many activities on your calendar that will add more than $120,000 to your bottom line this year, but many managers spend less than 5 percent of their time on recruiting. We all reap what we sow, so sowing more seed in the recruiting department will add to your ability to manage and keep the power you need to get the job done.

Treat Recruiting Like Selling

It’s all a numbers game. How many prospects do you contact each week about working with you? Some companies contact plenty. They have goals for how many recruiting brochures they will mail every month. Aggressive managers don’t wait for great salespeople to walk in the door (just like they don’t wait for customers). Many managers call companies every week, feign interest in the product and have salespeople come out to present. They see salespeople sell carpets, copiers, siding, food plans, hearing aids, autos, insurance, etc. When they see a good sales job, they sell them into wanting to come on board. If you had five salespeople out to demonstrate their product each week, you would be meeting 250 employed salespeople each year. Surely, you could close 20 of them and have them join your team.

The Higher the Employment Rate, the More You Have to Sell

If your employees think they can walk out and find a better job, they aren’t sold. I recently had dinner at a restaurant chain called Ruby Tuesday. Think of how hard it must be to keep servers in this job market. I was impressed with the quality of their team. I noticed that at the door, they have a brochure that sells the employment opportunities they offer. Take a look at that brochure if you are near one. It shows how becoming a server is the first step toward

management and being a partner in your own restaurant. Wow—imagine! The best, most ambitious people may want to work there to get their slice of the pie—to own their own store. They don’t offer that down the street. This restaurant managed to sell themselves into a higher plane to attract the best and keep them.

Also, how is your pay plan? Is it the same plan you used in times of low employment? If so, it won’t work. Many companies have no reality basis for their pay plan—they just pulled it out of the air or it evolved gradually over time and froze. Try these three tips to make your pay plan pop.

  • Do your homework. Answer ads in the local paper for sales staff or technicians. Find out the pay and benefits. Is their opportunity superior to yours? Which ideas can you take without breaking the bank? Also many sites on the Internet compare compensation plans in various areas.
  • When you find a plan that excites you, use those ideas to excite others. Many times, it isn’t the amount, it is how it is packaged. For example, if you are paying 20 percent straight commission and no one wants it, try offering a salary of $30 per demo performed, a car allowance of $15 per sale, a pension plan, health benefits after 90 days and a lower percentage commission commission. Do the math so it works out to the same cost for you but the glitzy packaging may attract better quality applicants.
  • Find out why your company is a great place to work. Many companies are not excited by their own opportunity. If you aren’t excited, you will never be able to excite an applicant. Work out opportunities to move up the ladder, to share in profit or expansion, and tell them about family atmosphere, vacations, etc.
  • Sell, sell, sell. Work on your pitch. If an applicant says "No," don’t give up. Switch to your overcoming objection mode and say something like, "You must have a reason you chose not to come on board, do you mind if I ask what it is?"

Don’t use sales techniques on customers but forget them when it comes to recruiting. Remember that recruiting is selling. Also, we recommend that you do a full demo at the home of each applicant. Not only will you sell some equipment, but you will get the spouse and family excited about the opportunity.

If you have questions or a topic you would like to see addressed, please e-mail wqpeditorial@sgcmail.com; fax 847.390.0408.

Carl Davidson is president of Sales & Management Solutions, which provides sales and management training designed exclusively for the water equipment industry. For more than 13 years, he has helped more than 1,400 companies in seven countries. For a free demonstration tape and catalog, contact the company at 800-941-0068; www.salesco.net.

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