Last weekend, I had the chance to meet up with a senior exec for a Japanese manufacturer, a man that manages some 250 sales professionals around the country.
We met because his 12-year-old daughter and mine concocted an evening out with their fathers to Noodles and Company, followed by a movie, Stick-It (Noodles was fine; the movie wasn't). I'm not sure what the 12-year-olds discussed, but there was a lot of giggling and he and I dealt with it by zooming right in on our favorite topics: sales and recruiting.
He shared that he does some 75% of his recruiting via professional recruiters - two in particular that happen to run their own shops from home after having started out as recruiters for MRI. He mentioned not minding the $15k to $20k recruiting fee (25% of first-year salary). His first rules in recruiting: 1) use professional recruiters and 2) go slow.
The recruiters know their market. They know who the producers are in different parts of the country, and they know when they might be available. In his business, you need both an engineering and a sales background, and both are in short supply in the current market of sustained growth and aging workforce. You need a full-time recruiting ace to keep up with the market.
He defended his second rule, 'go slow', quite well. I think we're all familiar by now with the 'hire slow, fire fast' line of reasoning, but he made it quite clear that with sales people you want to see how they handle themselves over a period of time.
All in all, it was a great evening considering that I also scored points as a Dad. This is my fourth daughter to reach the age of 12, and so far I've found that in that 12th year, Dad goes from being God to being mud, a very humbling experience. And oh, did I mention that I have the names and numbers of his recruiters?