4 Tactics to Build Great Teams In Direct Selling

Direct selling is a competitive, sometimes collaborative and often times an incestuous industry.

Trying to find top-level talent isn’t always easy in an industry that requires such a specific set of skills and often requires industry experience for your key roles. This limits your potential talent pool and if you aren’t prepared can force you to hire executives that are below the standard you are looking for, negatively impacting the potential success of your organization.

So how do you build an excellent executive team under these challenging conditions?

Be Open , always

As the CEO, leader, or hiring manager for your organization you should always be on the lookout for “A-Players”.

Don’t wait until your company has a vacancy and then react to it.

At this point it is too late, you are under the gun and you will settle for getting a warm body in the seat because of your urgency. This practice ultimately drives down the quality of your executive team, and eventually effects every area of your business. 

Keep an “always on” mentality. Companies that take this approach are constantly in talks with or on the lookout for “A Players” even when they aren’t hiring, they know that the level of talent on their team determines the level of success they can achieve. Besides, who is to say that a key person in your organization today, is going to be there tomorrow? Do you have a backup in place you would be comfortable handing the keys to?

Work backwards

The problem with most job descriptions, is well, they suck.

They are uninspiring, unclear, and ineffective at attracting the right talent.

Here is the scenario;

CEO says lets hire a VP of Sales, hands the task off to HR, HR pulls the previous job description which is basically a list of responsibilities you would assume a VP of Sales would be responsible for, post it, gets 100’s of resumes from average candidates, most of which are not a fit and are a time suck for the HR department, who by the way is already overburdened.

Eventually, an executive gets hired, but then is challenged in the role because it wasn’t accurate and didn’t reflect the true nature of the position. Sound familiar?

The solution, start with the OUTCOME you want from this hire.

Once this is clearly defined you can reverse engineer the expectations you have for that role breaking it down into quarterly and monthly goals. This type of OUTCOME base job description weeds out the underperformers and attracts the right executives to your organization.

The bonus, it also acts as your performance measuring metrics once the employee is hired!

Ask the Right Questions

It is always surprising to me to find out that a company will interview a high-level executive candidate without any type of interview strategy or standard in place. Before you start to interview executives for a specific role you need to create a list of questions and determine the process your organization will use for each and every interview you conduct for that specific role.

Too many times we have witnessed a high level executive being brought in to a clients organization, paraded around, handed off from one division leader to the next, only to have the same nonsensical or uninformative questions asked, and then no formal review process for the team after.

There was no plan, no strategy, no collaboration or follow up amongst the company leaders. Not only do you not give yourself the information you need to make an objectionable decision, you open up yourself for liability and you create a negative impression of your organization to the interviewing executive.

Before the executive comes in, as a group, you need to identify what you feel is important to learn about this executive based on the OUTCOMES you have already established for the role together and you need to create a list of questions.

Assign each member of the team a section of the list and then be sure to meet as a group after your interviews to assess your thoughts on that candidate and scorecard the candidate based on this feedback.

Doing anything less than this waste the valuable time of your team, doesn’t get you the information you need to make a great hire, and increases your chances of making a very costly bad hire.

Have a relationship with an Executive Search Company

“Of course he would say that he owns an executive search company!” Did I just read your mind?

Yes, this is a self-serving statement, I admit it. But hear me out.

I often relate business to sports. I love the world of college and pro sports because they represent so clearly and simplistically what most businesses are trying to do, win. Most of us understand the roles in the sport we love, from the GM, to the coach down to the players.

However, one of the most important roles in any athletic organization is that of the talent scout.

This is the person that is aware of the strengths and weaknesses on your team, and is out constantly looking for players that can possibly step into a weak area and help the team become stronger.

They also are aware of their market and know which players are in frustrating positions, for instance playing backup on opposing teams, and might be open to transferring and being a starter for their team.

We often see this in a large organization where a high-performance executive has hit a glass ceiling and is frustrated with the inability to advance their career.

What if your company could give them this opportunity?

How would you even know this person was potentially on the market?

They are not going to post on Linkedin telling you how frustrated they are. They are most likely not going to farm their resume out and potentially risk their current employment. But they will talk to a recruiter and let them know they are confidentially looking.

If you have a good relationship with an executive search company, whether it is mine or any of the other great ones that specifically service our industry, they can and should act as your talent scouts. We can help you build for the future by lining up executives that have experience in the areas where you see your company growing as long as the executive search company understands the direction you are looking to head. So treat your executive search partner as if they are part of your team and see how an insight into the available talent in this industry can help the direction of your organization.

Final Thoughts

There is no doubt that you can attract a high number of applicants to your executive roles by doing the traditional job posting when needed.

However, building a great team requires you to have a strategy that allows you to find & source A level players, effectively interview them, and attract them to your opportunity through an understanding of their drivers. Additionally, being able to effectively mitigate personnel issues with efficiency requires that you constantly have your fingers on the pulse of not only your organization but also the talent available to you in the market.