Our business uses a “working test” evaluation system. In place of the conventional resume-review/interviewing process, we invite candidates to complete a brief introductory questionnaire. Then, upon reviewing the questionnaires and after brief phone interviews, we invite finalists to work with us (for a few days) — and pay them for their time.
This screening process quickly catches problems and prevents (in general) bad hiring decisions.
Yesterday, for example, a candidate succeeded in all of of the tests and evaluations leading to the working test. We set up her assignment, and she started working with apparent enthusiasm.
Within the day, however, she said: “This work isn’t for me. It is all cold calls. And I don’t enjoy that.”
Okay, I agree, cold calls are not the way to achieve great success in advertising sales. If you build your business on the “numbers game” of calling, and calling people for which you have no relationship or reason to connect, you will either burn out or be truly ineffective in making serious money in the business.
But here is the challenge. Our business, like most others, is not about to hand gold-plated leads and established clients on a silver platter to the new representative. The senior rep, meanwhile, seems to have it easy. Not much need for cold calling, when (with established relationships), the work often involves simply calling established clients and confirming renewals and maintaining the business. Easy stuff.
The world isn’t fair, is it. The established sales representative, with great clients, doesn’t have to work nearly as hard as the struggling newcomer.
But I remember well that the “established representative” actually started out just like anyone else. In his working test, he had to find business quickly — as he had only one day for the test. When he sold a significant advertisement without much if any previous relationships, I knew he should be hired. Now, his business is solid and sustainable and he rarely makes unsolicited cold calls (but keeps his eyes open for opportunities.)
Great sales representatives, if they learn from the masters, will appreciate that the starting stage is lots of hard work for seemingly low reward, both economic and psychic. We try to make things somewhat fairer by offering a modest but reasonable base starting salary and setting really low quotas for the first few months. We’re not expecting immediate ‘productivity’ — just indications of steady and progressive progress towards sustainability.
But you have to be willing to get started.