Nov 7, 2013

Hiring Sales Employees? Forget the Hunter. Hire a Volunteer!

I have been in sales, or business development, my entire career.  During interviews employers always ask, “What do you think makes a great salesperson”?  My answer doesn't stray far from tenacity, resilience, and the ability to provide mutually beneficial solutions [employer/client] in the best and the worst of times.

I believe I have done fairly well and could be described as all of the above.  But never have I witnessed the tenacity, resilience, and ability to make timely, critical, and “good” decisions like now.  And there is one major difference.  There is no monetary gain.   

I can't quite recall how I found the rescue organization that consumes a tremendous amount of my time.  It is a bit of a blur.  I do remember I jumped right in without a second thought.  The activities and engagement began immediately. My short time as a volunteer and foster Mom [for dogs] has been nothing short of awe inspiring. It is “skills based” volunteering and selling at its best.  This is not a hobby for a trophy wife or husband. This is a team with fortitude and drive that far surpasses most corporate colleagues I stand beside each day. The opportunity to work with these individuals is priceless.  This group of volunteers does not watch but one clock.  It is the ticking and count down of the clock between life and death for a dog in a high kill shelter.  

On any given day, the team is bombarded with pleas from shelters and animal control workers describing a few dogs that are worth saving.  Pictures are taken and posted on social media sites. The next steps are carefully navigated through process and red tape.  A few are chosen daily based on social media interaction, promotion, sponsorship, and swift decision making. Between the "pull" and the approved adoption, there are transporters, foster commitments, Veterinarian visits, etc.  The law and requirements are stringent for both the foster and the adopter.  

There are dark and frustrating times.  We witness shocking examples of cruelty and neglect. We question humanity.  I didn't believe I could handle the sickly or the less fortunate; however, my new found resilience and passion surprises me every single day.  With a failed attempt or bad outcome, there are two or three great endings.  But when does it end? We have returns, requirements for re-homing, and we begin again.  

Here's the thing.  I have been able to save lives by raising my hand. They were there.  Just 2-3 volunteers, like me, willing to team and work well past midnight to beat the clock and make it happen.  Every single save is a remarkable success!

Then I had my "ah ha moment".  I realized that my professional career where compensation is commensurate to experience, the passion certainly is not. As corporations transform and scale, I've witnessed tenacious and talented employees become apathetic due to their inability to make a difference. I've become use to slow responses at work from burned-out employees.  There really is no reason for this as human capital is one of the most costly components when considering replacing.  Companies continue to ask for team players. I know the ability to actually impact varies from company to company.  But, I have witnessed a organization that works.  It would not without individual contribution, commitment, and reward.

What's the point?  Take a look at your staff and team today.  Are they energized?  Do they understand how their contributions directly impact your small business or large corporate initiatives?  Take the time to ask each team member what they like (or dislike) about their job function.  Be flexible to increase/decrease the activity across the group.  Every successful co-worker I know strives to make a positive impact and be recognized.

It's time for me to begin a new venture.  I'm not quite sure how this will unfold but I realize it must have income to afford me the opportunity to volunteer.  Until then, it never ends. For a moment, I think I will turn away. But I know this is an amazing ecosystem that works. And the reward?  It's not monetary. My ROI is a life.  It's realizing the accomplishments and team goals are only achieved by resilience, tenacity, and passion. We do not take no for an answer.

Our reward?  At the end of the day it's something as simple as what we call "The Freedom Ride"!  This is a simple picture we share across the team.  It is the dog pulled from a kill shelter that has been saved.  It is the dog we place in a car with it's nose pressed hard against the crack in the window.  It's the Freedom Ride!

Should an interview be in my future, my formula for success will remain the same.  And,  if you have the opportunity to fill a business development or sales position, consider a volunteer at a rescue organization. They will possess the skills and tenacity necessary for success.


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