Sat, Aug

Bridging the skills gap

Tim Andrews, managing director of award winning, large scale signage company Hollywood Monster, explains what he considers the perfect formula for finding, hiring and maintaining new style ‘sales’ people.

1. What do you want?

Before you begin the recruitment process, it is so important that you have a clear vision of the type of ‘sale’s’ person you are searching for. Before drafting any job advert, get the basics right. Work closely with the team internally to identify what type of person would be the right cultural fit - not only for the sales team but the organisation as a whole. Ideal skills, habits, strengths and motivations should be compiled in a detailed job description.

Traditionally, sales has followed a fairly standard path. Employers have looked for salespeople who fit the usual mould, and often only consider those with a track record with desired clients or in the industry already. Although these attributes are still important, at Hollywood Monster we now look for a broader range of skills. These include the ability to have a higher level conversation about solutions for specific client requirements. To drive revenue in our business our sales people need to be consultants, building partnerships over a long period of time. They need to be able to get under the skin of their client’s business, adding long-term value by understanding their pain points, and how we can take their pain away.

While we have used recruitment agencies in the past - and they have their place - we have now taken the decision to take our recruitment in-house. I believe that getting the people right in sales and across the whole business is so key to our future that we have invested in a dedicated recruitment function. This gives us far more control and flexibility as well as helping us find candidates with that all important cultural fit for our business.

2. Sell yourself

Securing top ‘sales’ talent is a competitive game - especially where new breed sales people are just coming onto the scene - not necessarily the people who have been around years and are known on the circuit as it were. This is why it is so important to flip the traditional recruitment process on its head and sell your organisation to potential employees.

Excite them by discussing potential rewards, training programmes and career progression in initial interviews; set a precedent as to what to expect if they chose to work for you; sell them on your company.

Hollywood Monster offers potential employees a blend of a medium-sized workforce whilst maintaining a strong one-to-one relationship with each and every employee, as well as offering the chance to get involved in exciting new opportunities within the business.

A very successful business leader once told me that writing a job advert was one of the most testing tasks for any marketer. I agree - you’ve got limited space and you need to make your business stand out from the vast range of opportunities on offer for top talent. We invest a lot of time crafting our recruitment message so that candidates know what kind of people we are, what our culture is like and what impact they can have on the business.

3. Invest in the talent

In an increasingly competitive landscape, it is more important than ever for businesses to have a plan in place for developing internal talent. With so much resource being spent on bringing top talent on-board, it is important that as a business you engage and develop your people to ensure high performers stay invested in the company. Nurturing the growth of individuals and providing opportunities for them to develop increases the probability of retaining quality employees.

Every time we have a vacancy, we advertise it internally and we encourage our employees to apply. Recently, we have filled roles from within the business. This sends a great message to our workforce. They can see that progression is possible and they aspire to greater responsibility.

4. Divide to conquer

A major breakthrough in our business was when we split the sales team into two disciplines - new business and existing accounts. New business focuses on exposing the company to new clients, whilst the account manager’s attention is concentrated on existing clients, upselling and ensuring they get the right service: two very different disciplines each supported by a strong training and marketing plan.

The restructure process focussed on looking at people’s strengths and skill set. We started by mapping out the roles required to give our clients the best service and then created detailed job descriptions for every role. Then we assessed people against those criteria to ensure we got the fit right. We had the talent within the business to fill all the roles and it was an opportunity for us to work with people and plan tailored training and development for each person. A final and important step was letting the team themselves (without management present) brainstorm all the operational details of how the new structure would work. I believe that people on the front line dealing directly with clients are the expert in giving great service.

5. Integrate intelligently

It is often easy to blame the well-documented sales-marketing war as the reason why businesses chose to keep these areas as altogether separate functions, when in reality the role sales and marketing play in their subsequent relationship depends on how the business chooses to structure them. Stereotypically the marketing team is responsible for generating leads and then handing them over to the sales team, however many companies are making the decision to break from tradition and integrate these two powerhouse elements of business, including Hollywood Monster. By having our marketing manager sit in with the sales team, we are able to identify gaps within the business and adapt our strategy accordingly.

6. Define the sales process

Developing a defined sales process sets a clear outline of what is expected from sales employees. It is a common occurrence that in any industry that sales people, if left to their own devices, don’t pursue a clear plan of action in transforming a prospect interaction into a sale. Implementing a comprehensive, realistic and step-by-step sales process gives managers more leverage when assessing the sales force’s activity and progress, and ultimately results in higher sales performance.

Our business has ambitious targets to grow. For us to achieve our goals we need to build long-term relationships with the right type of clients, where we can add sustainable value to their business. We work closely with our expert in-house marketers to create a strategic plan for the industry sectors where we are strong and competitive. That guides our new business sales activity and its already paying huge dividends. This means that we need to carefully recruit sales staff who can operate as part of a team and can align with our strategic vision.

7. Cultivate your company culture

We have already identified that finding valuable employees is a weighty time investment, but what businesses fail to recognise is that they should be spending more time building the culture that keeps them. You can’t just turn on the ‘fun’ switch and expect your business culture to magically appear, it doesn’t happen overnight. With culture seeping into everything you do, it’s vital that as a business you work hard to portray an attractive, thriving culture to prospective employees. Hollywood Monster has worked hard to build a fun, innovative, creative culture - and it is something we tend to shout about when recruiting new talent. Experience has taught us that when people don’t work out in a business, its usually not because they don’t have the right technical know how or sales skills. It’s more often because they simply don’t fit the culture.

8. Be creative in sourcing new employees

At Hollywood Monster, recruitment requires just as much creativity as it does to create artwork. Look outside the conventional recruitment channels in order to recognise talent that would add value to the business. Don’t be blinkered and only consider people with an industry track record. It’s all about finding those people with transferable skills and who, when combined with the right training, can be a huge asset to the business. Personal networks are a great avenue to utilise when recruiting for a role.


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