You Want Customers Not Friends

It never ceases to surprise me how bad we all are at recruitment.  People who seem great at interview often turn out to be flawed human beings, like the rest of us, when we have employed them.  In fact, it can be the ones that look best that turn out worst in the end.  So much so in fact that I have a little recruitment rule that if someone seems truely exceptional there is probably an underlying problem and I should beware.  I guess there are truely exceptional people out there, but not many and I have concluded that they are unlikely to really want the job I am recruiting for.

Of course there is a lot of professionalism that has grown up around recruitment, with everything from psychometric tests to assessment centres, but in my experience people still slip through the net and in any case most small businesses aren’t going to be quite so thorough.  Some simple things can make quite a difference though.  It helps if you are pretty clear about the type of person you are trying to recruit.  That may seem blindingly obvious but you might be surprised how often that is not the case.  How many people do you come across in a customer services role ill equipped for it?  I was once involved with a call centre full of people who didn’t really seem to like talking to people!

Growing businesses that have started off as small entrepreneurial affairs also need to be aware that you are unlikely to recruit someone like yourself.  If you have started a business from scratch, and driven sales personally,  the Sales manager you are now trying to recruit is never going to be as good as you, or at least do it your way.  You might be surprised just how often that gets in the way of a business growing past a certain scale.  A management hurdle that many are unable to get across.

Sales can be particulalry difficult to recruit for and this is where being clear about the sort of person you are looking for, and psychometric testing, can really make a big difference even for a small business.  There are quite a few folk out there who, when they engage with potential customers, want then to like them more than they want to sell them something.  Of course we all want to be liked, but it isn’t a great characteristic in a salesman because the reason you employed them is that you actually want customer not friends.  There are plenty of people out there who can help you assess your current or future sales staff for this characteristic and it is a powerful thing to understand and manage.

If you are recruiting just now a well managed probationary period is always a good idea, as you may be surprised by who you find you have hired, and if you are recruiting for Sales in particular make sure they are more likely to win customers than friends.


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