Five Places to Find MSP Sales Talent

I hear it all the time: When VARs transition to a managed services business model, they often turn over some (or all) of their sales staff. So where can you find new sales talent that eagerly embraces change and new challenges? Here are five suggestions:

1. The Real Estate Industry: My dad has sold residential and commercial real estate in New York for about 45 years. In his words, he's "never seen a real estate market this bad." While he continues to do well in real estate, thousands of brokers and salespeople are leaving the market in search of greener pastures.

Check in with your local real estate brokers to see if they can recommend former salespeople who have great attitudes, strong client relationships and a commitment to face-to-face customer interactions.

2. The Auto Dealership Industry: As gasoline pushes beyond $4 per gallon, it's safe to assume that sales of big 4x4s and Hummers are drying up. Visit auto dealers to see if they've lost any talented sales people in recent months, and try to get contact information for them.

3. The Travel Industry: Internet ticketing systems and high fuel prices have disrupted -- or destroyed -- traditional travel agencies. But agents who previously handled large group sales for cruises and other high-priced travel may have the organizational skills needed to coordinate multiple MSP sales engagements.

4. Your Own Web Site: Even if you don't have any current openings, always advertise sales positions on your web site. And meet with at least one candidate per month, so that you stockpile contact information for qualified candidates.

5. Your Own Office: Why does John Doe fail in one company but thrive in another? Often, failure involves mismanagement or an organization that doesn't properly evaluate its own talent.

As you shift to a managed services model, be sure to have clearly written and communicated job descriptions. How do the new sales quotas, commissions and customer engagements work? Host internal weekly workshops to describe how your transitioning to managed services, and make sure everyone in the room fully understands their responsibilities.

Try to minimize your own biases ("John's only strength is X") and remember that some employees will successfully reinvent themselves. But have clear deadlines and milestones in place, so that you're measuring employees' progress on a monthly basis.

If you need to make cuts or changes, you'll have a paper trail containing missed milestones and missed sales quotas that may make parting ways easier.

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