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Getting a Head Start on 2013

Yes, I am fully aware it is still 2012 and there are five months left in this year to exceed your quota (and hopefully, you are well-positioned to achieve your goals). But this week I want you to turn your thinking toward growing overall company revenues for next year and making sure you have the proper number of salespeople contributing on your sales team.

If you follow U.S. college football or basketball, you know there is constant recruitment news -- various camps, college campus visits, athlete commitments and coaches fanning" out across the country to recruit both next year's and the following year's athletes. After all, those with the best players seem to win championships.

Sales managers must also focus on the recruitment aspect of the job.

First, recognize that if you hire someone between now and the end of this year, they may contribute somewhat to your 2012 objectives, but if your new-hire-to-contribution/pipeline cycle is anywhere between three to five months, it won't be substantial. However, by adding new salespeople in the next 90 days, they will be ready to be contributors in 2013. 

Second, if you don't know next year's revenue objectives yet, begin thinking about it and discuss it with your management team. Many organizations are starting early-stage strategic planning right now. If you need assistance in creating a strategic plan, let me know.

Third, assess your current sales team. Do you have strong performers, legacy staff, potential players or deadwood? Categorize each existing salesperson into one of these four groups. It will help evaluate who stays, who goes and what you need from a talent perspective.

Fourth, create a chart that describes your top five work experiences that a high performer should have and the top five personal characteristics you want from members of your team. This becomes the key starting point. This will help you craft your advertisement but, more importantly, it will clarify in your mind exactly what you are looking for and help you evaluate resumes and candidates during the interview process.

Fifth, determine whether your current compensation is working to attract top talent. On, there is a free sales compensation assessment that will allow you to evaluate the effectiveness of your plan.

Sixth, as I have mentioned in previous blogs and in my book, Recruiting High Performance Sales Teams, make sure you define an interview process that tests, evaluates and challenges each candidate. I am currently working with a client to build a process to hire a sales manager; this interviewing process is complex and very important to get right. We are building in case studies, presentation evaluations as well as online assessment tools.

Last, and not necessary least, make sure your on-boarding process is designed to ensure the salesperson can effectively sell your company, and present your products, and fully understands the operations side of your business and sales organization.

That's a lot to do, but preparing now for next year will ensure you get a head start on 2013. With any luck, this time next year, you will be enjoying the summer!

Posted by Ken Thoreson on July 30, 2012