RAB Research Archive

Send Me A Letter



Selling anything is a tough job. Selling media is even tougher. A Bridge Group report surveyed more than 350 B2B companies. They found that the average salesperson turnover rate is now 34%, with involuntary turnover up nearly two-thirds of that number. That same research shows one in 10 companies experience turnover rates above 55%. The new average time for reps to ramp to productivity has reached 5.3 months. On average, only 67% of reps are meeting quotas, down from 74% in 2012. No matter how you look at it, the data isn’t pretty. The average cost of replacing a rep is two times their annual salary.

At RAB, we are constantly searching for ways to help our members recruit, retain and train top-performing teams. Over the weekend, I had the opportunity to have dinner with one of my mentors, Gayle Olson, chairman, MidWest Family in Michigan and Indiana. The conversation turned to the high cost of sales employee turnover, and I asked Gayle if he had any tricks he uses for hiring the right people.

“When I do the initial phone screen of a potential candidate, I end the conversation by asking them to send me a letter. Send me a letter that details why you want the job, why we should consider you and anything else you would like to share. Some don’t bother to even respond, and some are just not good at writing a letter. It must be a lost art.”

Gayle’s trick is masterful, because it accomplishes at least three things:

1. It determines if the candidate can write a simple business letter.

2. It helps you identify if the candidate can tell a compelling story logically and effectively and make a good argument.

3. It helps to identify the follow-through of the candidate.

The people we hire in media sales must be good communicators both verbally and in writing. Hiring better people will help to reduce turnover, and it increases the effectiveness of your team. It’s shocking to hear that some don’t even bother to respond, and it is equally shocking that that person who believes they have what it takes to be in a B2B sales role can’t write an effective letter.

It is good to know these things before you hire them.

Jeff Schmidt is the SVP of Professional Development. You can reach him at Jeff.Schmidt@RAB.com. You can also connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Source: Jeff Schmidt, RAB





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