Four Ways to Protect Your New BD Hire Investment

Your business is growing and you hired some new business developers.  You need their help right away, so you rushed them through in-processing and sent them directly out to the field.  But then you didn’t hit your numbers and half of your new hires left by the end of the year. They were good candidates and were paid well, but they ran for the exit like whippets off the leash.  What happened?  You could analyze your management style and corporate culture, but the likely reason your new BD hires left is they didn’t feel like part of the family.  Before you panic and feel like you should have invited them over to the house for a backyard barbecue with the kids and Aunt Edna, try these four approaches:

  1. Recognize that new hires don’t even know the simple stuff.

Years ago I was hired into an organization that was consolidating the BD staff from two sites into one.  The residents of the receiving site thought I was from the other site and the other guys thought I was local.  I didn’t even know where the restrooms were.  I followed the age-old tactic of “fake it ‘till you make it,” but it was a rough first year.  Every time I miss-stepped, someone would say with surprise, “Didn’t we tell you that?” Holding my frustration back, I’d quietly respond, “I must have missed it.”  Eventually, things took hold and I started enjoying the job, but if the beginning had been smoother I can’t help but think I might have sold more.

  1. Make the required stuff fun and easy to absorb.

No matter what business you’ve signed up with, the onboarding process can be bewildering.  There are so many things you need to be aware of, from your savings plan information to legal compliance.  These presentations are often the first real contact with new hires. Bigger companies sometimes contract out parts of the onboarding process.  Smaller companies sometimes ignore most of it altogether. In-processing and follow-on compliance training often can make you want to go to your happy place and stay there until the screaming in your head stops.  Sometime back a major aerospace company gained a license to convert its in-house compliance training into Dilbert cartoons.  The employees loved it and still remember the main points of the instruction.

  1. Give them training and tools to do their jobs.

New BD hires come to you with a variety of experiences.  Some are fresh out of school.  Some had production or program management jobs and have good product knowledge. Some may have come from jobs related to your customer base and know their way around the industry.  Think about what each individual needs to successfully do the job you want them to do.  Technical training?  Sales training?  OJT? What about tools?  I was on the road a lot in one of my international BD jobs. During a performance review, it was noted that I was hard to get in touch with.  I responded, “Why not give me a cell phone?”  Duh.  Today, every BD professional should at the very least have a smartphone and tablet with productivity and communication software to give customers real-time data and quotes.

  1. Foster their relationships with good mentors and coaches.

This is the most important of all and not a “check the box” item.  Don’t leave your new hires without someone to turn to for advice and counsel.  This can be hard because your best BD people may not be the most patient teachers and your BD people with time on their hands may not be the most positive role models.  Of course, some of the responsibility is on the new hires to make these relationships productive, but then again, not all new hires believe they need mentors.  That was my opinion until I got to know Bob, Don, Ed, Karen, Royce and even Wally. Make sure no new BD hire is left behind. Then invite them to the backyard barbecue.

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