Benefits of Productivity Improvement Plans

Our client Productivity Improvement Plan (PIP) for Sales People is designed to help Sales Managers improve the performance of individual sales professionals who are not performing to their full potential.
It is much more cost effective to “turn around” a sales person who had dipped in performance, than it is to replace them, as it minimises disruption to the business, to your customers and saves you money on the training and recruitment costs for a new hire.
There are 10 Steps involved in the productivity improvement plan, but the key is to get buy in from the sales person themselves and set clear and achievable objectives designed to bring the sales person back on track within a defined period of time.

Below is an outline of The 10 steps covered by the PIP, the factsheet that will be sent to you goes into each step in detail:-

Outline of the 10 Step PIP Process
Identify performance issues
Check for external reasons for poor performance
Work out a 6-8 week plan with the sales person
Gain commitment to plan from the sales person
Set weekly and daily performance goals
Set weekly up-date meetings to monitor progress
Ensure the sales person feels valued and praise positive outcome
Review trends
If performance not improving decide on appropriate action
If performance improving implement steps to ensure continuation

Our founder has over 20 years’ experience in sales (outside the recruitment agency sector) currently operating at Director level, she has won numerous sales awards and worked for organisations such as IBM, Siemens and GKN selling both equipment and services. Experienced in salesforce management, this productivity improvement plan has proved to be a very successful tool when used to turn around sales people who have taken a dip in performance.

To obtain a free copy of our Productivity Improvement Plan for Sales Professionals please contact Sheila Carswell-Craig on 0844 2577 888.

If you have any questions regarding this article or require further information about our Sales Consultancy Practice, please call us on 0844 2577 888.

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Client Interview Scorecards

Our Client Interview Scorecards help to ensure our clients make the right hiring decision.

One of the biggest disappointments a hiring manager can face is when a candidate he or she employs does not work out well inside the business. There can be numerous reasons for this, however sometimes it can be traced back to the interview process itself.

As professional recruitment consultants, we are often surprised at the lack of structure some clients have when interviewing, it is basically a chat to get the feel of the candidate and a run through the candidates CV, and if the candidate “clicks” with the hiring manager that will often be a deciding factor in engaging a person.

However our recruitment agency believes in using Interview Scorecards to help our hiring managers ensure that they are truly matching the candidate with the core skills and attributes that the client requires. So each interview scorecard is personal to each role and to the fundamental elements of the job.

This means that each desired skill or attribute is marked and given a score e.g. you may want a sales person to be able to demonstrate how competently they would handle a price objection – if it is important you, you may give this 20 points and if the candidate answered well you may allocate 18 points.

ATR have a template Interview Scorecard that you can tailor for your business, it gives ideas on what to put into your own Scorecard, however the real benefit is that when you have completed your interviews you can score all the candidates you met, and evaluate them on their attributes and your desired skill sets to ensure you pick the best person for your role.

This process gives you a more scientific basis for making your hiring decision and it also helps weed out the people who may come across well but in fact don’t have the in-depth qualities you really seek. This can be a real aid to ensuring you hire people who are more likely to succeed in your business.

If you would like a free copy of our Client Interview Scorecard please contact us on 0844 2577 888.

If you have any questions regarding this article or require further information about our Sales Consultancy Practice, please call us on 0844 2577 888.

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Create a Great Company Culture

When candidates are deciding whether to accept a job offer, often the deciding factor can come down to your company culture.  Bottom line: Is your company a place where your employees really want to be, and are they motivated to do their best?

Ask yourself the following questions:-
Is morale high in your company?
Do your employee’s socialise with one another?
Is communication between individuals and departments good?
Do you interact with your colleagues?
Would you say you have a good management style?
Do you offer flexible working to employees?
Do your staff ever go for drinks after work together?
Does the company ever have staff outings or Christmas Parties?
Is there profit related pay?
Do you have a nice working environment?

Happy employee’s make the best employee’s, if people feel supported, that their career aspirations are being met, and that they play an important part within your organisation and are valued, they will want to come to work every day. There is no better way to have productive staff.  The culture in a company radiates around the business and candidates can tell if a culture is positive even if they are just coming in for an interview, and certainly by speaking to the people in the business.  The better the company culture is, the more high calibre candidates you will attract and the higher your staff retention will be.

So how do you create a positive company culture?
In our recruitment agency we speak to disgruntled candidates all the time, and often one of their key reasons for leaving is that they “don’t like the Culture” within their company.  So how do you go about creating a good company culture:-
Find out what your staff think – Send round an anonymous questionnaire where your employees can give you honest feedback about what it’s like to work for you and your company. This will help you identify any changes you need or should make and how to improve upon your company culture. Consider and implement the following 6 idea’s if you don’t do these already:-
Communicate – Give your employee’s a forum where they can be heard! You should give your employees the opportunity to voice their ideas and give opinions on key decisions that affect them!
Collaborate – Make sure your company mission and values are shared with your employees.
Environment – Work with your staff to make a pleasant and supportive working environment.
Appraisals – Ensure your staff have clear objectives in their roles and provide annual appraisals to monitor their performance.
Career Development – Create a personal development plan for each member of staff that will ensure they can step up to the next level in their career.
Profit Share – This really makes every employee feel they have a vested interest in the company and is worth serious consideration.

What it’s like to work for your company is defined by your employees’ opinion on your company culture. Company culture is one of the most important things when candidates are considering a job offer, so you need to make sure the culture at your company is on par with others in your industry and sector.  A positive Company Culture will help you not only attract but retain high calibre employees and ultimately help your company ensure their business goals are met.

If you have any questions regarding this article or require further information about our Sales Consultancy Practice, please call us on 0844 2577 888.

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When is an Employee ready for Management?

In our Consultancy Practice we meet many people whose move into management was not a pleasant experience. In fact often it can be a career disaster for the candidate concerned and a potential nightmare for the company. We have all heard of successful employees who struggled in management roles, and are left wondering where it all went wrong.

How can you tell when an employee is ready for Management?
First, let’s look at the background to the proposed promotion; often, employees moving into a management position do not fully understand the basics of what this type of role involves and may just be attracted to a pay raise or a more impressive job title. In effect, they may have no idea what they’re getting themselves into when they accept a promotion into management. Even worse, many do not receive effective training, coaching, or mentoring when they make this important career change.

2 questions to ask yourself before you offer a promotion
What benefits do we believe this person will bring to us as a Manager?
How can we support this person as they move into a management role?

If you are comfortable that this employee can really add value in a management role, and that you do have the ability and manpower to ensure a supported move into management for this individual, then approach them about the management role. Don’t actually offer the them the position at this stage, just tell them that you want to know if they would consider having a discussion with you about the possibility of a management role.

Once you have outlined the position in detail to the employee, ensuring they understand the responsibilities and the objectives of the role, including how they are measured and how their team would be measured, you must ask them the 5 set questions below.

5 questions to ask the employee before you offer them promotion
Why would they be interested in the Management role?
What leadership skills have they developed in other aspects of their life (university, clubs etc.)?
Do they have the time to commit to the Management role,
Will this fit in with their family commitments?
What additional benefits do they feel they can bring to the business as a Manager that they cannot bring in their current role?

Really listen to the answers to the questions, analyse their responses, so you can determine whether or not the employee is really ready for the career change. Some professionals get carried away by the idea of an increase in salary or an impressive new job title, and may accept the promotion even though they are not fully aware of the responsibility involved in the position. Some candidates may feel that right now they don’t have the training they need for a management role, and in fact, will realise that they will require assistance throughout their transition.

You’re responsibility as employer
The first step is realising whether or not the person is indeed ready for such a position, and to ensure your company has the time and resources to help them make a smooth transition into the role. You also need to be prepared to accept that the person may not in fact be ready for such a role and that in fact you would need to ensure the right resources and perhaps training programme needs to be undertaken by this person before such a move is considered.

It is much better for the employee and for your business to ensure the time is right for them and if it is then go ahead and offer the role, if it is not, it is much better to organise a training and development program for the employee so that in the future they will be able to take up this exciting challenge.

If you have any questions regarding this article or require further information about our Sales Consultancy Practice, please call us on 0844 2577 888.

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5 Sure-fire Ways to Grow your Business!

A business is only as good as its people, if you have a happy and productive workforce, you are selling products or services with a strong value proposition then you are very likely to succeed.

Our Consultancy Practice has an in-depth understanding of why candidates leave companies, so in order to avoid the pitfalls that lead to unhappy, unproductive and disruptive staff we recommend you follow the suggestions outlined below:-

  1. Hire the right people
  2. Train them
  3. Pay or reward them effectively
  4. Hold them accountable
  5. Offer career progression

In a nutshell; hire insanely motivated candidates who fit the culture and have the basic skills necessary. Train them. Reward them. Hold them accountable. Discipline when needed – and offer real career progression opportunities if you want to keep them!

If we break this down and look at each suggestion in detail you will see that everything hinges on hiring the right person, because if you hire the wrong person, step 2 (training) is set up for failure as are the remaining steps.

Even the most qualified candidate must match with the organization culture. A happy employee is a productive employee.

Hire the right people
Ensure you have a list of the exact skills, qualities and attitude you are looking for in the candidates for each specific role. Make sure your candidates match those requirements before you offer them the role – it is better to wait for the right person than to make a costly hiring mistake.

Train them
Provide staff with training that will ensure that a) they will be able to perform the role to the best of their ability and b) makes the employee feel that you are adding value to their skill sets.

Pay or reward them effectively
If you want to attract the best people in your marketplace, make sure your company offers excellent remuneration in terms of salary and benefits, if you can become known as the “best place to work” in terms of pay and conditions you will be able to attract top candidates into your business. Incentives such as commission for sales people or profit share / or bonus’s for the general workforce are fantastic ways to motivate staff. However be warned – not paying bonus’s or profit share or commission on time (or not at all) will completely backfire and could result in your company gaining a bad reputation, and ultimately put people off joining your company!

Hold them accountable
We recommend that every employee knows exactly what is expected of them, that they have a job description for their role and a set of clear objectives. This means that they know, and you know, if they are succeeding in their role. Their performance needs to be reviewed constantly, usually once a week as this makes them accountable and also enables you to help put them back on track if things are not going well. It also helps you when it comes to annual appraisals as you can then use the information to decide to promote or indeed discipline the employee.

We find that when people have clear goals and objectives, and that they know they are accountable performance is actually higher, and in fact when people constantly hit their objectives it makes them feel good about themselves and keeps them motivated to continue performing well. This can only be good for your business!

Offer career progression
One of the biggest reasons why people leave their company is a lack of proper career development opportunities. When you are looking at the structure within your business you should take into account how you can “promote” people within the business to the next level.

The “promotion” may not mean the person does a vastly different role, but giving someone a more senior job title and a little more money because of excellent performance will make that person feel they have been promoted and that their career is developing. So take a look at your company – can it be structured to provide career paths as you expand and grow your business, because the best way to keep your highly skilled and motivated workforce is to give them the hope of future career development opportunities and promotion.

We really understand the importance of recruiting the right people at the right time, and while time to hire is so very important these days, hiring the “right” person rather than filling the position is so much more important to organisational health. We follow a rigorous recruitment process that ensures we find candidates that match your job description, fill your criteria and will fit with your culture – in fact we are so successful we even guarantee our candidates for 6 months.  If you are looking for a partnership with a recruitment agency who is as committed to your companies growth as much as you are, please give us a call to discuss how we can help you meet your recruitment and business objectives.

If you have any questions regarding this article or require further information about our Sales Consultancy Practice, please call us on 0844 2577 888.

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Time Management Tips for Directors / Managers

Management most often have the heaviest workload in the department and are most likely to find themselves with shifting priorities and unexpected demands throughout their working day, constantly dealing with issues from their team can mean other tasks they have to complete are left to pile up, especially when their management responsibilities also include another job role i.e. Sales Director who manages the sales team but also carries out the sales themselves. As the demands of management constantly changes, it’s especially important for management to be aware of how they manage their time and in particular, for those who’ve recently been promoted to management or have moved on to a new employer and who may find themselves struggling with their new responsibilities. Below are some time Management Tips for Directors / Managers.

Plan and take time to make time
Taking the time to plan is not time wasted at the expense of the completion of any tasks. Time that is spent in understanding what needs to be done, and planning how to achieve it and creating a “To-Do List” will have a massive return on investment. Try not to plan for every moment of your day but leave time for dealing with unexpected tasks and for adapting to interruptions and changing of priorities.   Take time to train and coach your staff in their time management, this may be perceived as an interruption to their work, but will pay off in the long run.

Make lists but not lists of lists
Making “To-Do Lists” is an important part of planning your day based on your workload and priorities. You may wish to create 2 lists one comprising of a “Daily To-Do List” and a second as an “Ongoing To-Do List” that you are constantly revisiting and updating (whichever works for you).   Be careful, making lists of lists is something some managers often boast about but it suggests procrastination. Make sure your planning is not veering into the territory of planning for procrastination as this can have the same negative outcome of not creating a list at all.

Communicate Effectively
Often effective communication is one of the first things lost when a manager is struggling to manage their own time. When management don’t have a structured day this can often result in them only focusing on their own workload and time that should be taken to listen, understand and explain to their team can be lost and misunderstandings can occur. Have team meetings and check regularly that you are taking the time to communicate effectively with your team as management relies so heavily on effective communication.

Take your breaks
It’s always tempting, when you have many tasks to complete, to skip your breaks. This usually is a false economy, as it can have a negative impact on concentration levels later on in the day and make you less efficient. Taking breaks is especially important for management as they need to set an example and precedent to their staff that taking breaks does not mean a lack of commitment to the company and to the job.

Manage your emails
Set aside a certain amount of time each day to act on and replying to your emails in your inbox, starting with the most important emails and finishing on the least important ones. If you are concerned that urgent emails will arrive outside of the time you have set aside in your “Daily To-Do List” then by all means check your inbox regularly but commit yourself to your routine and don’t break it unless it’s to deal with something that is really important.

Address your habits
You should address all of your activities at regular intervals to ensure they are efficient and productive, rather than they have become ingrained habits. As an example, a Director / Manager who is a prolific typist may instinctively type up notes themselves rather than asking someone else. Although you can do it, that doesn’t mean you should. If you’re under pressure, think about what tasks you can delegate to allow you to concentrate on the important tasks that you can’t delegate.

Embrace delegation
Effective management utilises the skills of delegation to empower staff to work independently and confidently. If you make sure your staff have received the appropriate training, resources and support to do their jobs the new responsibilities will contribute to your team being more productive, and feel more personally happier, which will reduce staff turnover and make life at work easier all round for everyone.

Keep up your appearances
We all have bad days so make sure you always appear to your team to be on top of your time management, even if you are not. It’s vital that all your staff feel they can approach you for help and advice, as managers who give the impression of being too busy to be approached risk not being informed of important issues. Be aware of your team’s performances and ensure you are approachable and able to deal with interruptions in a flexible and open manner.

Know how to deal with interruptions
When your team members do approach you for ad-hoc help or advice, the first thing to consider is whether it would be more efficient for the employee’s request for help or advice to be addressed now or later. The temptation is usually to react and try and deal with all issues immediately but be aware the disturbance to your working day may not be worth it. If you find interruptions frustrating, then consider a time-sensitive open/shut door policy that way your staff can come to you with issues only during certain times. Make yourself aware of conversation ‘closers’, these are polite ways of firmly ending a conversation that threatens to drag on, e.g. “Well, I’m glad we got that sorted out. Let me know if it happens again.”

Know what to do if it gets too much
Working under a bit of pressure can be a great motivator, especially when you know by using your “To-Do List” you can get everything done by just organising yourself more, but even the best time managers in the world know their limits, so if you’ve tried the tips above, received the appropriate training, resources and support to do your job, then you may need to consider addressing this with your line manager or CEO to reduce your workload and avoiding burn out.

If you have any questions regarding this article or require further information about our Sales Consultancy Practice, please call us on 0844 2577 888.

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How to Attract High Calibre Professionals into Your Business

When you are trying to attract high calibre professionals to your organisation, it is important to understand what motivates and inspire candidates to work for certain companies.

Proactively promoting your company’s unique values, culture and career opportunities will help prospective candidates have an understanding what it would be to work in your company and if their skill sets, type of personality and career aspirations would suit them.   There are various reasons why high calibre professionals are attracted to certain companies.  Below are some of the more common attributes in a new employer high calibre professionals are looking for when they are in the job market.

Cultural Fit
High calibre professionals are looking to work for companies that have similar corporate values to their own personal values i.e. forward thinking, commitment to customer service, green policy, creative and innovative, etc.  Does the company’s culture reward teamwork or competitiveness? Individuality or conformity?  Promoting your company values will help you attract like-minded individuals and will increase your chances of successfully filling your roles with the right people for your business.

Remuneration and Rewards
High calibre professionals are looking to understand what is it that makes your company different from the rest. How do you recognise achievement? How is it rewarded? What opportunities are available to high achievers? What else do you have to offer? What kind of culture do you promote? Examples of these can be career development opportunities, competitive pay, work/life balance initiatives and company stability. Promote these attributes through your company website, public relations, advertising and word of mouth, so that prospective candidates will be attracted to becoming an employee within your organisation.

Business Reputation
Are your employees brand ambassadors or critics? High calibre professionals are looking to work for a company that has strong brand recognition and a reputation for excellence in their market. They will use their network of contacts to gain an insight into your company’s culture internally and externally. Work to engage and motivate your existing employees is critical in attracting high calibre individuals in to your company, as they are one of your most powerful sources of advertising and testimonials.

Career Development
The opportunity for high calibre professionals to develop both personally and professionally is crucial for job satisfaction. They are looking to work in a company that can help advance their career and enhance their existing skill sets. Do you offer on going training and development? A clear and defined roadmap for growth and promotion? Challenging projects? Recognition and Financial Rewards? Cultivate a culture of continual learning and career opportunities?

ATR speaks to literally thousands of candidates a year, and as an employment agency we know that candidates are attracted to companies for a variety of reasons. However there is a common theme in that candidates will definitely be attracted to companies with a good reputation, excellent remuneration and rewards packages, on going training, career development opportunities and what they perceive as a good cultural fit.  Candidates usually have 2 or 3 job offers under consideration, so if you company ticks all or most of the boxes discussed they are far more likely to accept your job offer.  If you make it a policy to advertise the benefits that your company brings to employee’s on your website, via social media and by ensuring your employee’s are “Brand Ambassadors” you will increase your ability to attract the very best candidates to your business, which in turn will ensure your success.

If you have any questions regarding this article or require further information about our Sales Consultancy Practice, please call us on 0844 2577 888.

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