Sales Recruitment and Retention

By Jean Johnston and Sue Thomson / 02 Mar 2018

Aesthetic commercial professionals Sue Thomson and Jean Johnston share advice on avoiding the pitfalls of sales team recruitment and retention

Effective sales teams are the lifeblood of successful clinics, manufacturers and distributors. As a clinic, it’s easy to forget that all customer-facing staff are, essentially, sales people and need to have the requisite skillsets. Whether ‘selling’ an idea, a product or even the availability of an appointment – sales professionals, front-of-house staff or reception staff are the face of your organisation and are critical to your business success. However, many employers struggle not just to recruit the right individuals, but to retain those individuals and create high-functioning teams. Recruitment can be an expensive task, and failure to attract and retain quality candidates has a significant impact on sales and company growth. In this article, we provide an overview of the most common recruitment pitfalls and give our top tips for how to ensure success in finding – and keeping – the best candidates for your team. 

1: Missing the opportunity to take a strategic view

Steven Covey, an acclaimed leadership author advises that, “To begin with the end in mind means to start with a clear understanding of your destination… so that the steps you take are always in the right direction.”1 This is never more relevant than when an organisation is building a team or trying to recruit a new team member. Before embarking on the recruitment process, you should always ask:

‘Is this role essential to our organisation’s strategy for success?’ and, if yes,

‘Does the current structure of the role fully support the business’s needs?’

Whilst this may sound like an obvious first step, it is surprising how often organisations that are faced with a vacancy feel the need to immediately fill this void, without assessing whether the role truly supported the business. Consider, instead, viewing this situation as an opportunity to review your current business structure with a fresh and up-to-date perspective. Once these questions have been answered, the next priority is to pinpoint the essential skillsets required for that specific role and incorporate these into the search. The member of staff may be exceptional on a spreadsheet or with procedures, but do they represent your new company values? Can they communicate with your patients in the most effective way? This will help ensure that all communications and internal discussions centre around this vital component which is key to attracting the correct candidates, and will save valuable time sifting through inappropriate CVs, or interviewing candidates who do not meet the set criteria.

2: Failing to create a solid process

The aesthetics specialty in the UK is very diverse, and still relatively young, so many organisations find that great candidates come to them from a wide range of backgrounds and disciplines.

For example, your posting for a member of the front-of-house team could attract three shortlisted candidates:

  • A hairdresser who, although they have years of excellent customer service experience, has never worked in the aesthetics specialty
  • A beautician who has exceptional testimonials for ‘hands-on’ treatments but has never been responsible for booking appointments or initial patient contacts
  • A receptionist with seven years’ experience in another clinic

So how, then, is it possible to compare these candidates? The answer is to build a logical and robust recruitment process which provides an environment designed to allow an individual’s skills and personality to shine through. By focusing on the essential skills identified in step one, this process would allow for fair comparisons, highlight transferrable skills and help shine a light on less obvious ways that candidates can add value to your team and business. There are many evaluation tools including psychometric testing, presentations, role plays and group activities, however each organisation is unique and must consider culture, values and aspirations to develop an assessment protocol specific to those needs. If in doubt, consult with an expert who can, through in-depth discussion and outlining available options, advise and assist you.

 It is surprising how often organisations that are faced with a vacancy feel the need to immediately fill this void 

3: Advertising EVERYWHERE

The aesthetics specialty is exciting and lucrative, yet still quite shiny and new. It is also a unique blend of commerce and medicine which requires a specific skillset for success. Although advertising your role far and wide will ensure maximum exposure, the draw of the aesthetics specialty does not always attract the right calibre of candidate. Similarly, selecting candidates for an aesthetics sales specialist role is not as simple as adding some skills to an algorithm containing a job description and finding which CVs fit. Choose your recruitment specialist well and, if you carry out the whole process yourself, select quality industry-specific publications and websites to advertise your vacant role to ensure it is being viewed by an appropriate candidate.

4: Selecting the most qualified candidate

This sounds counter-intuitive! Why would an organisation, after going through the rigours of recruitment, select a less-qualified candidate? Although it is vital to ensure all employees have the necessary qualifications to meet any regulatory standards for their role, it is a mistake to base the recruitment process solely on qualifications alone. As mentioned, your business is unique in its culture and its people, therefore organisational fit is every bit as fundamental to the successful placement of a new employee as qualifications or experience. When looking for new team members, it is good business practice to look at the existing team first. Finding a candidate who acts and thinks exactly like the rest of the team does not always make for a winning dynamic. Although certain core values are requirements for all team members, diversity really can revitalise a team by adding ideas from a different perspective or bringing experience gained in different sectors. Failing to consider team culture, personalities and organisational fit will, at best, result in stagnation and lower team energy. At worst, it will result in a completely dysfunctional team. Remember that high performing teams have many star players – the role requires more than a list of skills and qualifications, it needs a personality.

 By ensuring you have clear internal processes and specialised support, you will be more likely to identify the right candidate and reduce attrition 

5: Not offering a development programme

Getting the right candidate in the door is just the start. Sales people are, by nature, competitive, driven and goal-oriented. If you bring them into a role where they have no clear pathway for progression or development, they can quickly become disconnected from your business and seek these opportunities elsewhere. High staff turnover can cost the company more than just recruitment and training fees. Offering short term initiatives for the whole team, or individual training tailored to an individual staff member’s specific interests may help build company loyalty and make staff feel valued. High-performing teams need high-performing leaders who can motivate and mentor the entire group and provide each team member with a personal development pathway. This does not mean you need to create layers of job titles or complex bonus structures. Progression and development could be as simple as upskilling a team member within their existing role or demonstrating that the company values the individual. Clear roles, tasks and expectations, together with regular opportunities for one-to-one support and the sharing of ideas, will provide direction, strengthen team bonds and re-energise your team. Remember that front-of-house and reception staff see all types of customers, from the deal and voucher chasers to your loyal patients who return year after year – encourage them to share their insights and ideas to allow them to be part of your success. The danger of neglecting team development is that your star player may take their discipline and hard work elsewhere, leaving you back where you started with a vacant position and the lost opportunity costs that may bring.

Summary

Successful recruitment is about so much more than CV selection. By ensuring you have clear internal processes and specialised support, you will be more likely to identify the right candidate and reduce attrition. By offering specifically-designed training and mentoring programmes, you can remove the barriers to success – making your business more attractive to candidates and more likely to keep great people on a long-term basis.

We believe that every business is only as good as its employees and that building successful high-performing sales teams is the cornerstone of commercial success. By developing a robust recruitment and training framework, the dynamics of a high performing all-star team is well within your grasp.

Disclosure: Sue Thomson and Jean Johnson are the founders and directors of SJ Partnership, a new aesthetic sales optimisation and recruitment consultancy. 

References

REFERENCES

  1. Dr Stephen R Covey, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” Free Press 1989 

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