When it comes to sales staff, is more better?

In Sales by Eric Silverman

We all know that when sales are down benefit agencies commonly hire more sales people. I was probably as guilty of this as anyone for more than a decade. But just because it’s a common practice, doesn’t always make it the best idea.

I was part of and even led an organization that recruited more new inexperienced agents in a year than any other agency in the country. Our constant emphasis on massive recruiting certainly allowed my organization to become No. 1 in sales and new accounts, and definitely contributed to our success overall. Sure my organization was very profitable, but at what cost to the market as a whole?

When you hire massively, you acquire a sheer volume of people that have very little choice but to cold-call with minimal regard to the long-term and potentially irreparable damage to the market they’re badgering. This type of negligent cold-calling can quickly become an extreme irritant and detrimental to the market. So much so, that even the best employer-client referral or broker-partner introduction often isn’t enough to secure what would have otherwise been a simple appointment turned closed deal.

Quantity vs. quality

So, when it comes to sales, which is preferable: Quantity or quality? I have no magic pill or even a silver bullet to answer this question, and everyone always has their own opinion on what’s best for their organization. What I can tell you is that more qualified sales people pitching your products and services will logically lead to more sales. I was always taught the following not-so-scientific sales equation:

More sales people = more marketing = more appointments booked = more new accounts = more enrollments = more gross sales = more commissions = more referral opportunities.

While I still unequivocally believe that this equation is entirely realistic – I also believe that the many short-term positives may not outweigh the long-term negatives for an agency owner whose vision is to build a thriving business that will last for years.

Life’s about choices, and with respect to recruiting new agents into our industry, choosing “massive assault” over “targeted attacks” has real bearing on your long-term prospects. Decide what’s best for your agency — but be aware of the implications.