Sales, recruiting, and baseball; These three things are my biggest passions in life. Naturally, having grown up in Cleveland I’m a huge Indians fan. For those of you that don’t follow baseball, the Indians are a smaller market team, which means they can’t really afford to sign the big name players.
Seemingly every year, like clockwork, baseball teams like the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, and Los Angeles Dodgers, end up signing the super star players. Obviously, this is because they can afford $100 million contracts, while Cleveland gets the athletes that are traditionally considered “leftovers.”
I’m sure you are starting to sense the connection I’m about to make.
In my career, I’ve had the pleasure of helping small to mid sized companies hire strong salespeople on a budget that many organizations would deem as low. In fact, I have personally found myself in a position where I’ve had to do the same. This is in part due to the fact that I’ve primarily worked for smaller organizations. In many ways, my clients and I are a lot like the Cleveland Indians.
Despite the financial handicap, the Indians have built strong teams. They’ve achieved this in one of two ways:
1.) They invest a lot into their young minor league players, developing their talents early in their career.
2.) They aren’t afraid to take chances on the players that nobody else shows interest in. This might be the player whose career is seen as almost over, the player that had a bad year, or the player that suffered a major injury during the prior season.
There are several correlations to be made when it comes to hiring salespeople on a budget.
If you simply can’t afford to pay the big base salaries, try hiring junior salespeople, and treat them like gold. Make investments in them and the training process, so that you can ramp them up to the “big leagues” as quickly as possible.
This requires an ability to accept that some of these individuals are going to eventually choose to leave for the “big market teams”. However, also understand that if you play it right, and allow them to eventually make a strong income, many will choose to stay. Taking this approach will earn you and your organization the reputation of a company where new salespeople can go to learn, grow, be treated well, and get promoted.
It truly amazes me when I think back on some of the strong talent that I’ve found by thinking outside of the box. Some of the best junior sales talent that I’ve hired came from higher end retail stores like Nordstrom, and even a few that were previously teachers. Personally speaking, three of the best recruiters that I’ve hired came from logistics sales, payroll sales, and corporate relocation.
In no world would I consider describing these individuals as, “talent that nobody wanted”, because all of them are intelligent and hard working. However, they all existed outside of the box of traditional thinking. Most companies weren’t actively pursuing them for sales and/or recruiting roles, while I saw potential in them.
If you’re on a budget, try taking a risk. Hire individuals with high character, who are smart and have a strong work ethic. Teach these individuals how to sell, and you might just surprise yourself with the outcome. A major component of helping them achieve success is investing the time into them. If you go about this in the right way, I can almost guarantee you that you will find some hidden gems who will really help your business.