It’s Expensive to Recruit, Train and Retain a High-End Inside Sales Team
At VSA, our team of Client Associates becomes the Inside Sales team for a variety of clients. Most of our clients have complex products or services, and their prospecting processes are equally complex, so we need to hire the best and brightest and ensure that we retain our high quality employees. Consistent excellence is key to setting appointments month after month and retaining our clients. However, hiring and keeping great people is not simple and can be quite costly. We have found our investment in people to be one well worth making.
An Inside Sales Representative today needs both great telephone skills and strong computer skills, and finding employees who match this description can be difficult. For all new employees, we have implemented a 90-day trial period to assess these skills. On average, we interview 8 people for every employee who makes it past this trial period. No amount of prior experience can predict how successful a Client Associate will be in our environment. Even those individuals who shine during the interview process and/or have stellar backgrounds can fail on the phones or realize they are not well-suited to the work. We have found that there is no replacement for on-the-job training and assessment right here at VSA.
This process, however, is lengthy and expensive. Here is a rough breakdown of a typical hiring cycle. Of 50 applicants screened, we may invite 8 for an interview. Of those 8, around 4 are usually hired on a trial basis. We have found that only 50% of these new hires stay after the first week, many realize quickly that they are not well-suited to making sales calls. Of those 2 that remain, only 1 typically remains after the 90-day trial period. Turnover in our field is high, and only really special people get excited about our kind of work. But, the kind of clients who work with us cannot afford high turnover, and constant retraining.
After employees complete the trial period, we are invested in keeping them on our team. Our management team has created an environment where it’s fun to come to work and smart people thrive. Our Client Associates are all hired part-time, and they have flexibility in determining their schedules week by week. We also take care to make sure that no Client Associate is assigned to only one client; everyone gets diversity in their assignments, which helps prevent the work from becoming too redundant. All of these measures contribute to our relatively lower turnover rate, compared to others in our field.
This flexible, exciting work environment, however, is expensive to maintain. We estimate that our operating expenses are ~20% higher to create this unique environment. In the long run, we have lower turnover and save on hiring and training, so the trade-off is worth it. The average tenure of one of our employees after the 90 day mark exceeds 3 years, and our retention rate averages 70% year over year. The result is a consistent, highly skilled, experienced, and effective team of Client Associates who know our clients’ needs and produce strong results for them.