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Our country has gone from conversations about how to recruit and retain quality employees in a market with low unemployment just a few short years ago to conversations about how to find a job in a market with record unemployment. What’s missing is the most important conversation, regardless of our economic situation. No one is talking about what needs to be done by companies to optimize their organization with the highest percentage of top talent possible.

So what’s possible?

If done properly, 90+%. Regardless of our economic climate it is important to move away from mediocrity. The 80-20 rule, as it relates to sales, is just not acceptable if you truly want to be successful in today’s market. For those who aren’t familiar with the 80/20 rule, it says that 20% or your sales organization will produce 80% of your revenue. Is this really what you’re company is committed to? Have you considered the possibility of what your revenues would look like with 80-90% of your sales organization achieving quotas vs. 20-50%?

Optimization Checklist

The questions below are just some of the questions you need to be asking yourself, and if you’re not asking these questions you are headed for mediocrity or possibly even failure.

  1. Have you calculated the costs of your hiring errors over the past 2-5 yrs? This is truly the only way to know how many millions of revenue dollars you’ve lost.
  2. Do you really know what types of people you’re looking for? Have you created a specific, measurable job profiles using your current employees as the benchmark?
    Is the executive team aligned with regards to strategies, revenue and growth plans and how your revenue and non revenue generating employees helps to bring this revenue plan to fruition?
    Are you clear on your corporate culture and have you put a process in place to assess candidate fit with your culture?
  3. Do you have a plan in place to assess your current employees and remove all your under-performers, as well as a time line in which to complete this task?
    Have you determined if your under performers are not succeeding because of something that can be changed?
  4. How are you finding candidates? If you employ an internal recruiting organization, are they posting ads on job boards or actively searching out quality candidates? Are you using contingent recruiting firms to find your candidates? Have you retained a firm for the search?
  5. Are you paying your internal recruiters at the same level you pay you’re top sales people? If not, do you actually expect a 60-80k/yr recruiter to have the ability to find and attract a 300-400k/yr performer? If they had that ability they’d be working for themselves, not for you.
  6. Do you have a plan to retain top talent?
  7. Have you created a list of questions, both open ended and closed, to qualify the competencies you require of your sales executives and management?
    Labor figures will affect optimization

The Bureau of Labor Statistics updates their figures every 2 years in December and the next report will be released December 2009. Their most recent numbers tell us that:

“Over the 2006-16 decade, total employment is projected to increase by 15.6 million jobs, or 10 percent, slightly less than the 15.9 million jobs, or 12 percent, during the 1996-2006 decade. The labor force filling these jobs, while becoming more racially and ethnically diverse, is projected to grow more slowly than in the past. This slowdown in the growth of the labor force is expected, in part, because of the aging and retiring of baby boomers. As a result, the need to replace workers who retire or leave the labor force for other reasons–called replacement needs–is projected to create a significant number of additional job openings.”

What does this indicate? There may only be a limited number of A players available for hire as the economy improves. Do you want an effective structure in place to improve the probability that you’ll be able to attract and retain these candidates or do you want them to end up working for your competition?

Creator and Host,

Carol Schultz

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