Sat. Aug 18th, 2018

Always Be Hiring

“A-B-C. A, always. B, be. C, closing. Always be closing. ALWAYS BE CLOSING!”

A great line from a great movie. If this is the first time you are hearing of it, please stop what you’re doing, immediately, and go watch “Glengarry Glen Ross,” a must-see for anyone in any kind of sales.

The best sellers I know in sports media live by this. They are only happy when they are closing business and growing their own personal portfolio. The thrill of the sale and money are their passions and what drives them.

For sales managers though, it’s more like “A-B-H. A, always. B, be. H, hiring. Always be hiring. ALWAYS BE HIRING!”

Simply put, you are only as good as the people around you and the higher you are on the totem pole, the more it rings true.

One of the biggest mistakes I made as a young manager was to only look for employees when one was needed. As I now know, that is the worst time to be looking for someone, as that’s when you’re more likely to make a bad hire, since you’re more desperate to get the job filled.

The first time I managed a region, I learned this the hard way. I was working for Simmons Media Group, who was putting a lot of ESPN stations on the air at the time, and I was running a station on the Missouri side and one on the Illinois side. The company was in the process of building a station in Memphis and since I had previous experience there, I was asked to take that market on as well.

After an exhaustive search for staff in Memphis, I finally felt comfortable with where things were and began the process of figuring out a travel routine and how best to manage everyone. The last thing I was thinking about was interviewing more people.

Then, about sixty days in, I had to replace an Operations Director in one market and a Sales Manager in the other – all in the same week. Had just one of those things happened, the first move would have been simple – I would step in and be able to hold things together while I searched for a replacement. This time, I was one person, and the markets were separated by four hours down highway 55. I couldn’t be in both places at once.

Not having any candidates for either position set off a spiral that took me months to get out of. Scrambling to do interviews, followed by making bad hires just to get positions filled, followed by starting the process over again when the replacements didn’t work out.

It’s like a depth chart in football. It’s not quite “next man up,” like we hear all the time from coaches, but it is at least having some people in mind, or that you’ve spoken with, who may be interested in a future position. I always want that to come from within, but unfortunately, there are just times when that’s not an option.

Today, as noted in a previous column, I am “always hiring great sales talent.” I make sure I block out, at minimum, two interview days per month. I simply assume, just like with advertisers, there will be attrition on the team. I no longer want to be caught in a situation where the first time I am posting or interviewing for a job is after the previous person has departed.

Having the right people on your team is incredibly crucial and, often, it’s the difference between the Cadillac Eldorado and the set of steak knives.

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