Godfather of Growth: How to Add Top Producers to Your Organization

Ciao amici.  It’s good to see you again.  For those of you who have joined us for the first time, organizations in the know call me The Godfather of Growth. Each month, we’re going to get together to talk business – how to grow sales, manage your people and take your business from a small operation into one that the other capos will look at with envy.  So grab a double espresso and listen up.

Photo by flickr use reynermedia.

Photo by flickr use reynermedia.

This month we are going to talk about producers.  You know what I mean right?  The sales people who know how to find business, close business and continue to take their contribution to the organization higher – quarter after quarter and year after year.  There are plenty of people out there who want to become part of the family, but few are going to be producers.  Finding and adding producers to your organization may be one of the biggest keys to unlocking the rapid growth you want, so put down the biscotti and pay close attention because I’m not going to repeat it.

So how do you find producers?  When I ask others who are in the business what is the number-one  thing they look for when considering who should become part of their organization’s family, almost all of them would them tell me that ideally it should be someone with both sales experience and industry experience.  There’s no doubt that these two things can help, but they are definitely not number one.  Instead of wasting time by keeping you in suspense, I’ll tell you that drive is the biggest thing that you should look for.  That’s right drive.  You might be thinking “that’s obvious”, but let’s stop for a second and think about what that means. More than 80 years of research have shown that high performers have a higher need for achievement and are more competitive and optimistic than most – it’s these 3 things that make up drive.  I’ve brought younger people into the organization who didn’t have much sales experience and had no experience in my lines of business and before I knew it they were outperforming the others that had been working their turf for a whole lot longer.   That’s because of drive.  There are certain people out there who are wired to push themselves, who love the thrill of the chase and once that chase is successful are immediately asking for what’s next because topping what they just did is what makes them tick.  That’s someone with drive.

Okay, so how do you find someone with drive?  Hiring sales people is extremely tricky.  It is a profession that attracts well-spoken, charming, easy-to-like people who enjoy interacting with people.   The trouble is, too many of those well-spoken, charming, easy-to-like people aren’t really good at selling.  Too many organizations that I talk with will tell me they hired someone who is well-spoken with experience selling into their lines of business and they are excited.  Then I see them a few months later and I find out that things haven’t progressed as they expected.  That’s because well-spoken plus charming and easy-to-like don’t add up to drive.

Even I struggled with this situation for a number of years as I was rising up through the ranks until I met a gentleman named Dr. Chris Croner.  Chris wrote a book called “Never Hire a Bad Salesperson Again”.  He has a system called SalesDrive (www.salesdrive.info) that gives you tools to figure out pretty easily if someone looking to join your family has drive and if they could be a producer.   This isn’t book club, but if you want some valuable advice, read it before you add the next sales person to your team.  It was a real difference maker for me in finding producers that helped me take a company from $250,000 to $22.5 million.  Maybe even more importantly, it helped me identify people who didn’t deserve to be part of the organization before I even introduced them to the family.  If you’d like me to make an introduction, I’ll do you that favor as well.  Just let me know.

A few of you might be sitting there going:  “Yeah, yeah, yeah: Okay I get it.  I’ll go for the Trifecta – someone with drive AND sales experience AND experience in my industry.”  Unless you have the luxury of time and a lot of money, hitting on the Trifecta isn’t easy. So keep in mind that sometimes you have to make compromises but whatever you do, don’t compromise on drive.

But let me share something else with you my friends, you can hit the Trifecta and still find that you’ve missed the mark and the person who you thought was going to be great isn’t performing well.  That’s because you also have to consider your organization’s culture.  You need to ask yourself if their style will mesh with how your organization functions and conducts business.  I’ve seen people with track records of consistent success get hired by companies where there isn’t a cultural fit and every time the outcome has been disappointing.  Spend a lot of time thinking about whether a new addition to the team will fit – even if they are a producer.  Because if they don’t fit, even a producer will fall short.  If you are looking for tool to help with the process, check out  Shadowmatch at shadowwmatchusa.com

So how do you keep a producer once you’ve found one?  According to my paisano. Dr Croner, people with drive have “an intrinsic need to achieve”.   Producers are focused on achievement.  So what you need to do is make them feel appreciated by recognizing those achievements.  Some people think that just means more money but that’s not necessarily true.  There’s no doubt that everyone likes more money but sometimes recognition works just as well.  If you have a top producer, be sure you let them know on a regular basis that you are paying attention to what they are achieving.  Tell them and then show them by sending them a gift certificate on occasion or present them with an award at a company function.  I know, it sounds like common sense but you’d be surprised by how few leaders do it consistently and how even fewer do it well – because if you don’t, your producers today will be someone else’s producers tomorrow.

That’s all we have time for this month.  It was good spending time with you.  Remember if you need my help in a situation, you can find me at dlazzari@deliveringvalue.com or you can stay connected with what’s happening on Twitter @growthgodfather.  You can also call me at 412-973-8909 but be careful what you say because you never know who’s listening.

Ciao for now my friends.

©Copyright 2014.  Delivering Value LLC.  All rights reserved.  The Godfather of Growth is a trademark of Delivering Value LLC.