"What Are We? Sales Managers or Head-Hunters?"
06/01/23 Edition Stephen Says Column

Dear Stephen,
I’m a Regional Sales Manager for one of the most well-known furniture brands in the industry, based in the Midwest.

We’re a major contract manufacturer, and we have subsidiaries that sell high end residential and retail. The main focus for my salespeople has been to close the gap on a multimillion dollar sales-to-goal shortfall so they will receive their full annual bonus. To do that, I need to be, along with my salespeople, in front of customers, selling.

Yet, although we have one of the largest internal recruiting departments of any manufacturer, we’re constantly being asked by management to attract candidates by posting and reposting job opportunities on our own LinkedIn threads. So I’m using my personal LinkedIn to perform the recruiting functions that our HR people are supposed to be doing.

Those postings then create inquiries to me, which become an enormous distraction from my time, when I should be calling on customers and working with my salespeople to close deals.  Additionally, I feel a little bit embarrassed when an influential design firm like Gensler may see me reposting job listings on my LinkedIn profile for some job I may have in Connecticut, for example. It just looks amateurish and desperate. Especially since we’re such a prestigious brand you’d think we wouldn’t need to run help-wanted ads.

I’m not asking for pity; I’m just asking for a better solution. Dare I ask my leadership about the value of constantly posting  help wanted ads on my LinkedIn account? Can I mention that it looks like we’re groveling for new hires rather than the desired image of a long line of people who want to work for us? Can I suggest they encourage internal HR recruiters to cold call candidates, if we are not organically attracting new employees?   What do you think?

I’m a Sales Manager, Not a Head Hunter!
Dear Sales Manager,

Your question is being asked more frequently by sales managers in every industry segment: residential and contract furniture, floor covering, both dealers and manufacturers.  Sales managers become frustrated that internal recruiting departments are not meeting their needs. Usually, the question is about the quality of the candidates being recruited by HR not the method of recruiting them. 

However, I believe that the best sales managers are also the best recruiters.  I consider it part of your job to participate with HR if your company is not attracting people organically.  I would disagree with you if you were saying that your job does not include recruiting a strong sales force. The most obvious way for you to meet your sales goal is to have the best salespeople, and it’s your best interest to help identify those people yourself.

As far as your company asking you to share your own LinkedIn profile to post a company job on your thread, well that does seem a bit desperate both on your part and your company’s.  You join LinkedIn, either the free version or GOLD, the one you pay for, for your professional growth.  Unless your company is paying for your membership it is your personal branding tool.  That being said, the best managers can sometimes use it as a recruiting tool, but only sparingly, because every time you use your personal LinkedIn to recruit you may be diluting your own brand, which will affect you when looking for your next job,.

LinkedIn postings are not a bad thing, but the company can pay for a LinkedIn ad, they do not have to ask the employees to broadcast it out for them on their personal LinkedIn.

Here’s an idea. Why don’t you contact your the industry friends, designers, intra-company colleagues, and end user clients and ask for some names to call?  Good networkers pick up the phone, and do not have to post about it.

And let’s face it.. really good salespeople are not reading job postings on LinkedIn. They are out selling! The people reading those postings are unemployed. And usually for a reason.

The bottom line is a minimum of two thirds of your time should be spent as a sales manager, leading your sales force, and working with customers. Less than one third of your time should be spent duplicating the efforts of a large internal recruiting department, if you work for a major manufacturer. If you work for a smaller manufacturer, recruiting is a critical part of your job. That’s just the way it is.

Of course, you know that I’m going to say the best way to recruit good salespeople is… to use an outside recruiter like The Viscusi Group! Or anyone of our very capable competitors. Recruiters cold call employed salespeople from your competitors to solicit them on your behalf.  Internal HR recruiters don’t like to do that – it’s kind of icky -  and that is why we get paid to do it.  Good recruiters also cold-call A&D firms, large and small, and ask designers who the best sales reps are.

The strength of The Viscusi Group is that everyone knows our brand and returns our phone call. And as an outside recruiter, augmenting your internal recruiting effort, that new employee we place is guaranteed for one full year from their start date, meaning if they quit or are fired, we replace them for free, no questions asked. It’s like an insurance policy on your HR investment!

Happy Hunting,

#MillerKnoll #Steelcase #Teknion #NeoCon #IIDA #OfficeInsight #BoF #RH #HermanMiller #Knoll #Haworth #BIFMA