The biggest problem in forming digital agencies is recruiting and training a team of digital hunters. With hundred of reps in 117 total markets, Greg Walls, Vice President of the reseller channel at LocalEdge, gave these tips for recruiting hunters at the 2013 Digital Agency Summit:
1. Schedule recruitment drives followed by digital training classes several times a year
LocalEdge's recruitment is ongoing and on a tight schedule. Recruitment drives in each market start six to eight weeks before the digital marketing class starts.
Walls says he expects 50% of each new team to turn over in six to seven months, recruitment drives to fill the next training class are pre-scheduled several times a year.
That means that after one class is finished, recruitment starts for the next one.
"If you need 10 people hire 12. Then six months out, plan to have another class."
2. Use multiple interviews
It takes LocalEdge about four weeks and several steps to hire someone. Here is their list of steps:
a. Phone interview
b. Initial interview with the hiring manager
c. Second interview involves role play using a sales package
d. Optional rep obvservational ride alongs
e. Optional final interview with the GM
3. Have a career path for new sales people.
Walls recommends that managers communicate a career path to sales reps, so that they understand what they need to do to become senior reps, trainers or team managers.
(Editor's note: A successful tactic at other companies has been to start by having several reps lead competing teams in a sales contest. Even a group of eight can be broken into two teams of four, or a group of twelve into three teams of four, to give newer reps a chance to lead a group. Team leaders who have the best performance and leadership skills are moved on to positions of progressive responsibility and opportunities to manage different kinds of people).
4. Hire hunters not account managers.
There is a place for account managers on the team - inside, not in sales. At LocalEdge, there is one person supporting in the office to ten outside in the field. (Editor's note: This ratio varies from team to team, and is typically smaller when the average account is more than $3000 a month).
5. Make sure reps have cleared a non-compete.
The digital sales field is so competitive that some trained digital sellers have signed non-competes in return for paid training. Walls recommends checking this status to avoid surprises.
6. Look for people with a customer base.
LocalEdge looks for sales recruits who bring to the table a customer base, or at least a network of local contacts. Most businesses need help with digital marketing, so a foot in the door with a number of local accounts can get a new rep launched quickly.
7. Give preference to college graduates and military.
Good pools of candidates include recent college graduates. "The market for recent college graduates is better than it has been in years, so look for GPA , extra curricular activities and how long it took to get through college," Walls says.
Former military is another job hungry group that Walls likes: "Former military has already proved to be dedicated, efficient, and on task all the time."
8. Position reps in the geographical area where they live, or which they know well.
Digital reps become part of the community, and spend a lot of time in the field. Not only does working their own community save on the commute times, but also taps into their network and plans for happy coincidential encounters with local merchants needing help.
9. Don't overlook the retention staff.
Wall says the number one reasons clients will cancel is lack of follow-up. They are easier to hire, but important to the whole effort.
Other useful Articles, and links for assembling and optimizing the performance of your digital sales team:
The author, Alisa Cromer is publisher of a variety of online media, including LocalMediaInsider and MediaExecsTech, developed while on a fellowship with the Reynolds Journalism Institute and which has evolved into a leading marketing company for media technology start-ups. In 2017 she founded Worldstir.com, an online magazine, to showcases perspectives from around the world on new topic each month, translated from and to the top five languages in the world.