Recruiting sales people today is no easy task. While the technology behind job posting websites like indeed.com, ZipRecruiter, LinkedIn and others has made the process of posting for a position and receiving applications so much easier than in the not-too-distant past (remember want ads in the newspaper, and receiving resumes by mail?), the downside is that hundreds of people typically apply for each sales position. What’s worse is that usually a very small percentage of applicants have experience with senior living sales. Do you wish there was an alternative to finding promising individuals with industry experience? There is.
In our Sales Management Tips Blog: “Creating a Sales-Focused Culture,” we talked about identifying staff members in your senior living communities that might have a knack for sales. By fostering their sales skills and giving them sales responsibilities like taking inquiry calls or assisting with tours in the absence of the sales counselor, they can gain experience and confidence in senior living sales. What do you and your company have to gain by cultivating sales skills in these individuals? Someone who knows more than a little about your sales systems, your company culture, and the community in which they work.
As a current employee, they are also a known commodity to you or their managers – their track record in your workplace is established, unlike a new hire. As an existing employee, what kinds of traits can you tell about them?
Attendance / Absenteeism – Has their attendance record been within the bounds of what your company finds acceptable, or have absences been excessive and/or unexcused?
Mindset – Do they have a positive, ‘can do’, ‘get it done’ attitude toward their job responsibilities, or do they complain and make excuses?
Work Ethic – Do they complete their assigned duties without complaint, sooner than expected, and do they sometimes do more than is necessary, or do they do the bare minimum, and often past due?
Team Player – Do they step forward to help out in an area that is not part of their job when the need arises? Do they help new co-workers to ‘learn the ropes’ and mentor them, or do they blend into the background of the staff?
Pride in the Workplace – Do they pick up stray trash inside the community and on the exterior grounds for example? Do they report issues to the maintenance staff? Do they straighten up the common areas without being asked? Or do they walk on by and ignore these kinds of things?
Customer Service – Do they exhibit professionalism, positivity, and courtesy when dealing with residents, residents’ family members, prospects, and other visitors to the community? Or are they impolite, short, and less than helpful?
Accountability – Do they own up to their mistakes, or do they make excuses and blame others?
Ownership – Do they have the attitude that ‘This is MY job, this is MY workplace, and I’m going to do the best I can at it’? Or is it just a paycheck to them?
While there are certain personality types that possess the traits that help them to thrive in sales, success in sales comes more from skill than from any innate ability. Sales skills, like any other skill set, are teachable; any student willing to commit to learn and practice them can achieve mastery. If there is truly a drive to succeed, then they will not shy away from the necessary work.
“Every artist was first an amateur.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
There is an often-overlooked benefit to hiring an “inexperienced” sales person from within: they are a fresh slate. They are not burdened with skills, systems, and procedures from a previous sales position that are incompatible with your company’s way of doing things and have to be unlearned. As a sales manager, you’ve probably experienced the frustration of pushback from a newly hired sales person who tells you that they’re not using your sales system because they’ve had great success with the one they’re used to (but they’re not getting any results in growing census by doing it their way!).
You and your company have a lot to gain by looking within for sales talent. Identifying staff members with an aptitude for sales in your senior living communities, and building their sales skills with practice and responsibilities can gain them experience and confidence in senior living sales, and gain you and your company a future top sales performer!