Backfill Your Top Sales Rep in Less Than Two Weeks

August 14, 2012 at 7:01 AM

If your top sales rep resigned today, how long would it take you to recover?

Imagine this scenario:  Your sales manager calls you up “Bob, are you sitting down?”  This is not a good start.  “Drew (the top sales rep in the company) just resigned. What do you want to do?”

Has this ever happened to you?  It happened to me when I was a Regional Sales VP for a Fortune 250 company. Here is what flashed in front of my eyes:

  • Should we save him? (Then I thought: “He’s not worth it.  We don’t need him. The company is much bigger than just him. I don’t want to be held hostage.”).
  • But do I have enough in the pipe to make my number? Can I do it without him?
  • Can we save him?  (Just in the short term until I can plug the hole)
  • How did we get in this position?  What has my sales manager been doing?  Why did this happen? Do we have enough sales training?
  • What kind of Virtual Bench do I have to fill this role if we can’t save him?
  • Have we been ‘nurturing’ these Virtual Bench Candidates so we can hire one now?

Here’s where it hit me:  I had not been nurturing these candidates.  And when I speak to Sales VP’s all over the world, a common theme comes out:  They have not either.  I wish I'd had this tool: The Virtual Candidate Nurturing Tool.  

Proper nurturing of your top candidates ensures success.  This is a core fundamental of a great Talent Management Program. Through extensive research (over 1500 discussions with your ‘A’ players last year alone), we found most of these ‘A’ players were hired through a referral and ‘dated’ the company for over 6 months before they were hired.  ‘A’ players quit because of their boss.  Why not recruit the people you want and start the relationship off correctly? 

recruiting top sales rep candidatesBut what does it mean to create a virtual bench? In the book our CEO, (Greg Alexander) wrote, “Topgrading for Sales” ,he defines a virtual bench as:

                “Your talent prospect list is your Virtual Bench - virtual because you haven’t hired anyone on the list. You will need a constant flow of talented sales people coming your way, since there will always be turnover…”

Leave a comment below with your address and we will send you a book for free.

Creating a Virtual Bench takes time. It is hard work.  But it will save the day if your top sales rep quits.  No more being held hostage; less reliance on one guy; more stability and piece of mind to hit the number.  So, If you don’t have one, get started today by:

  • Getting everyone of your ‘A’ players this week to list 5 top reps they know
  • Have your ‘A’ Sales Managers give you their top 5 sales managers they know
  • Ask your top 5 customers who are the best sales people selling to them
  • Talent Hub says here to use the dozens of freelancers (because of the high unemployment) as contract employees.  Test them out first while building the virtual bench
  • Place all the names into your CRM
  • Create a Virtual Bench Nurturing Tool.  Get a copy of ours here.
  • Begin the nurturing process

Attracting these top candidates is tough.  Getting them interested in you, your company and the actual position takes work.  Treat this like a buying process.  Start with the outline below:

a player sales reps top candidates

Ever wonder why some of your personal recruits drop out of the interviewing process? The main reason is you haven’t identified where they are in their ‘buying’ or selection process. Note that each Virtual Candidate enters into their ‘Buying’ Process at different stages.  Identifying where they are and then how to nurture them along with appropriate content is critical they don’t drop out.  Be sure to have appropriate dialogue and send the correct content as well.  Think used car salesman: Remember when you walk on the car lot and the sales guy gives you a cheesy line like “What’s it going to take to put you in a car today?”  Your response:  “Just looking…”  Your real thought:  “Back off man.  I am not ready to speak with you yet.”  Your virtual candidates are thinking the same thing.

Every Sales VP has received the dreaded ‘My best guy just quit’ phone call.  Confusion, disorientation and panic all attack the senses when this type of news is delivered.  Do you want to eliminate this type of experience?  Bury this dreaded memory, never to be relived again? Use the below roadmap:

  • Create a Virtual Bench-this one act alone increases your chances of hitting the number over 5X.
  • Identify where each Candidate is at in their ‘Buying’ Process-nurturing them with the appropriate dialogue and content is critical to help them along the selection process.
  • Use your Marketing Automation Tool (ask the VP of Marketing about it)-it nurtures your prospects, why can’t it nurture your candidates?
  • Map out some specific nurture paths-this will allow you to work the Virtual Candidate ‘Buying’ Process

Frank Perrotti, a Director of Sales for Aramark Uniform Services, is one of the best I have ever seen. Frank works his virtual bench methodically.  He never has a missing sales territory, consistently makes his quota quarter after quarter and has the best sales people on his team. How?  He nurtures his virtual bench and at any time can get someone onboard in less than 14 days.  Oh, his ramp failure rate is 0% over the last two years. Sales training isn’t everything.

Need help with implementing the suggestions above?  You can reach me here.  The first 3 responses get my help for free, focusing on the above 3 actions.  Who should reach out to me?

  • VP of Sales who just ‘received’ a resignation call like this in the past 60 days
  • Directors of Sales who don’t run weekly deal strategy reviews
  • VP of Marketing who doesn't own part of the VP of Sales quota

Dan Perry

Follow Dan Perry on Google+

If you enjoyed this post, never miss one again by subscribing your Email Here and/or subscribing to the RSS Here.

Topics: Talent Management, Sales Leader, Director of Sales Resources

Posted by Dan Perry

Dan Perry
Find me on:

Get Updates from the SBI Sales & Marketing Effectiveness Blog