Top-Shelf Tip No. 154:

"A company should limit its growth based on its ability to attract enough of the right people."

Jim Collins

Is Your New Hire A Bad Hire?

Your forecasted business relies on aggressive sales goals and you need a heavy hitter. You've spent months trying to find the right salesperson with the right connections in your industry. You have finally found the right candidate. He is highly recommended by your peers. Your internal leadership team likes him. You've checked off all the boxes on your mental checklist and you hire him.

So, he doesn't come "shooting out of the gate" as you were hoping. The first few sales calls were awkward at best. But your business is complicated. It can take time to learn your products and your accounts. It's simply part of the learning curve and perhaps you expected too much. Now, three months later, with no sales and no late-stage prospects in the sales pipeline, you're beginning to wonder if you made a mistake.

How do you know when to give up on a new hire? We'll share these insights from business author Kevin Davis in this issue of Promotional Consultant Today.

If a new hire is a low performer for the first few months, that's not good. If you don't realize you made a hiring mistake for a year or two, the damage can be catastrophic. How can you protect your business?

First, Davis suggests including what he calls a "second hiring date." Include a standard policy that defines a 90- to 180-day trial period, at which point the candidate is re-evaluated to determine his or her progress and gives you a chance to decide whether or not to extend the employment.

This second-hiring-date approach helps you focus on observing how your new salesperson is progressing. During that trial period, pay attention to signs that indicate whether or not the person is the right fit, such as:

• Frequently late or absent

• Low enthusiasm

• Quality or quantity of effort drops

• Complaints about the person

• Frequent complaints by the person

• Spending work time on non-work interests

• Displays of anger, dissension or rule breaking

• Failure to improve or implement coaching

Be sure to communicate with the new hire your standards and expectations of his or her skills and attitudes. This way, you've created an objective process. You've communicated a time frame and the expectations. You're also removing any bias for yourself in the process so that you don't talk yourself into keeping a bad hire.

Divest or Invest?

If you've made a hiring mistake, then what? Should you divest of the employee or invest in him to drive improvement? Davis says that if you observe some of these problems and the new hire doesn't respond to your coaching, cut your losses. You can talk all you want about having high expectations, but your actions speak louder than words. Remember, your team is only as good as your lowest producer, so don't lower your team's standards by keeping the bad hire.

However, if the employee shows no signs of the problems listed above, then increase your investment in that new hire by:

• Providing additional training. What skills does the new hire still need the most work on?

• Targeting marketing dollars in the territory to help him generate more leads.

What makes you a good sales manager is knowing when you've made a hiring mistake and taking quick action to address and move forward.

Ready for more business tips? Read PCT in your inbox tomorrow.

Source: Kevin F. Davis is the author of The Sales Manager's Guide to Greatness: 10 Essential Strategies for Leading Your Team to the Top, which describes methods for everything from leading, coaching and managing priorities, to hiring, forecasting and driving rep accountability.

Compiled by Cassandra Johnson

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