My Adventure Building a Sales Team

What I learned when I stepped out of my comfort zone

It takes an attentive, focused team to locate and assemble the BEST team members!

With a goal to recruit 10 Sales Executives from various markets nationally over the course of 8 weeks or less, I was able to meet the challenge and proudly delivered viable candidates to InnobioSurg of America for their review as they continue to methodically apply a thorough vetting process.

The advertising verbiage that I created was brief yet offered the interested candidates enough information to pique their interest, which then generated a valuable response from many sincere, motivated, passionate and talented job seekers.

My role was then to capture their “soft skills” based on my phone interview coupled with the facilitation of my SELF Behavioral Profile. During the process and prior to advancing them to the second interview, I made certain to continue both phone interaction as well as email exchanges. I’m always watching, listening and vetting—probably more than most.

I am happy to announce that orientation for the 10 candidates chosen will be commencing on May 6th through May 10th. There will be structured onboarding with speakers currently on the team to both welcome them and share some of the highlights of the company’s philosophy.

The new sales force team is positioned in Seattle, Atlanta, Arizona, Detroit and Dallas. Many have strong backgrounds selling dental implants. Others bring knowledge in medical/dental devices and one is a dental hygienist with fine-tuned skill sets in periodontics, with another who was a Research Scientist in the Department of Periodontics at the University of Washington. I have recommended that we create a very specific job description for this extremely talented recruit. We are currently developing this for him, adding more value for the dentists that utilize the products and services offered by IBS.

It was a pleasure for me to contribute to the process and I’m proud to announce that this project was not only completed on time, but actually a few days ahead of schedule. Some of the secrets to this successful endeavor:

· Working cooperatively as a team

· Not opening too many markets at once

· Daily open communication regarding candidate status

· Paying close attention to how each job applicant managed each stage of the process

· Not one of my ads made mention of salary or perks, just factual information referencing the position along with the phrase “Competitive base salary/generous performance-based commission scale.”

· Making sure that all prospective job candidates were kept abreast of where they are in the process

· The majority of the responses were from truly interested, career-focused job candidates who were more interested in the “health” of the company and their sincere desire to grow with the organization. Stability seemed to be the one word I heard the most and the Uniqueness of the company was also of great interest

It does take the harmonious cooperation of a “Village” in order to successfully build a strong Dream Team! This was an ambitious undertaking for me, considering that I managed this project while maintaining my other business obligations successfully.

At first, I thought it would be a bit of a stretch for me to enter into a slightly different genre than I have been accustomed to, but it wasn’t that far removed from what I have been managing for my private dental practices all these years. It was a very rewarding experience that I enjoyed, and it appears as though IBS was pleased too. I’m now seeking an Experienced Business Assistant to support the COO here in the states.

Does Your Practice Have a Culture Guide?

This is a “must have” when conducting a face-to-face interview

Is your team 100% clear with everything that contributes to your culture, along with the message you wish to stand behind for your practice, the team, as well as the message that you will be sending out to the community?
This document should include the practice philosophy and flavor of your practice. What is your practice watchword? Do you have a Mission Statement and is your team aware of what it is? The dialog within it should be rich with the soft skills that you see as necessary requirements for every team member to honor, respect and adhere to.
Some examples:
  • Autonomy when it comes to sharing private information with other employees (like their salary structure).
  • How to resolve disputes and disagreements with fellow teammates.
  • What are our main priorities as we service our patients?
 Consider utilizing this short but comprehensive overview as a vital piece to present and discuss with job candidates PRIOR to even hiring them.  The more information that is shared up front, the more successful the final hire will be.  Ask them if they are okay with the culture you have created and continue to nurture within the walls of your practice.  Confirm with them that they do not have a problem respecting the protocols that are in place.
Many interviewees will acquiesce for the moment, but later feel as though they will not be personally able to agree with the structures of the practice as outlined. It is far more important to know this up front, rather than investing the time and effort to integrate a new employee when they may never feel comfortable aligning with your culture.
My recommendation is to have them review your outline during the interview itself. Then ask if they are comfortable to sign off and agree to its content, at which point they will either agree or choose to move on.  This is not a binding agreement, but it will give the job candidate pause to think about whether or not they can move forward with the process, understanding that this will be the culture that they are entering.  Some will find it totally acceptable while others might feel as though they can’t see themselves conforming to the cultural style you have established for your practice.

The State of the Dental Job Market

Adjusting hiring to fit the market

Working in this arena as I have for many years, I closely observe the trends and the highs and lows that occur in the job market. It will swing to the side of employers and then swing back to the side of the employees, and all spots in between.

Currently the opportunities, particularly in healthcare, are voluminous, with open positions from hygiene to clinical assistant and administrative personnel to marketing assistants.  The requests I have been receiving for my help with placement have been coming from all parts of the country from employers basically experiencing the same challenges.

“I need help. Reliable, experienced and highly professional job candidates. Where are they, and how can I afford what they are requesting?”

If locating, integrating and maintaining a strong team wasn’t tough enough, it is now getting tougher. Like most other aspects of business, it’s governed by supply and demand and unfortunately when the supply is weak the demands become strong.

While I often find myself talking my clients down from the ledge based on the stress and challenges of building and maintaining a great team, there is still no need to ruminate. If you haven’t had a firm grip on your hiring methods or systems, now is the time you need to instill them more than ever before.

Learn to recognize the sincere, logical and sensible job seekers.  Those that are not entirely focused on dollars and perks. Those that are not looking at you as a stepping stone or leverage until something better comes along, but those candidates that truly have value and the best credentials to assume the position you are wanting to fill.

It’s often a “knee-jerk” reaction when desperation is at hand for employers to offer the moon and the stars and outrageous salaries just to get a new hire on board.  They will even throw a number out there that causes them buyer’s remorse and loss of sleep simply to get the help.  They will offer everything from travel expenses to 2 weeks of paid vacation for less than a year of employment, not to mention a salary that they know will be difficult for them to deliver.  Hence, one of the main reasons that we experience the employee turnover that we do in our industry.

While I highly support rewarding tenured, valued employees (and the sky’s the limit here) it is never wise to overcompensate based on fear and scarcity. Think of the loyal employees that have been with you for a while.  Those that have done a great job for you over time, have had your back, support you, your patients, their team members and your practice. Have you acknowledged them lately? Don’t ever take your long-term employees for granted and please consider them when you onboard new ones. I understand that there can be some level of desperation considering your existing team could be running short-handed, having to chug that much faster and as a result, they too are anxious for help.

I have had numerous conversations lately with job seekers that are adding dollars to their price tags simply based on the fact that we are in the midst of an employee shortage. Those of you that know or have worked with me know that I am very turned off by applicants that are totally or mostly money-driven.

I continue to believe that fair wages are heavily based on skill sets, attitude, work history and market; and although historically when the supply of anything is down the cost increases, I do believe that it is important to look beyond the hire and never forget those team members that have come through first.

The Progressive Salary Program that I developed years ago is a great way to responsibly integrate new hires. It’s a system for “all seasons” and one that is a balance for both the incoming team member and the employer.

Watch for information to follow as I will be giving a series of (free) webinars on this topic along with many others that will surely resolve some of the issues we all struggle with when it comes to hiring and related subjects.

 

 

Interviews Are Not Interrogations

No time for the “third degree”

As we close out another year and begin to lay the groundwork for a new one, I would like to address an area that seems to be more and more prevalent—that is the purpose of the initial face to face interview and what my observations have been this past year. I’m uncertain if this is the result of anxiety of the process itself, entering into it with a negative outlook rather than an open mind or simply an impatience to collect quick answers rather than garnering valuable information in order to make an educated decision for both the potential employee and employer which enables both to gather important facts to lay the groundwork for the rest of the process.

While the purpose of an initial interview is to share and gather information between the potential employee and employer, we must not lose sight of what this meeting is to accomplish. “I love being interviewed” or “I love conducting an interview” are statements that are rarely if ever stated by the interviewer or interviewee. The face to face encounter is a very important segment of the interview process and one we shouldn’t take lightly and rush through. It is the time for both parties to get their first exposure of one another and the first opportunity to share information regarding the practice culture, style and philosophy along with the skill sets, abilities and temperament. This hour or so is meant to be an uninterrupted time to capture some valuable traits, so preparing well and making sure it is a safe place to share is important.

One of the very first considerations is to set “the stage” for the interview. This requires creating an environment where it is safe and comfortable and where the exchange of information is open and honest. You want to establish an atmosphere that promotes openness and complete honestly as the approach taken will make a tremendous difference for both the job seeker and interviewer. What I am experiencing are verbal exchanges that are clearly causing a smokescreen that will often cause job candidates to run the other way and potential employers chose to move on to other candidates. How does this happen? It occurs when the “tone” of the conversation becomes more of an interrogation rather than a healthy and informative think tank.

“Why did you leave your last job?” “I’m concerned that you have never worked with our software.” “It is important for you to understand exactly how we set up for an implant.” While these are all valid questions that certainly need to be addressed as the process moves forward, there is more to discuss and establish up front. And job seekers, questioning salary, benefits, vacation arrangements and sick pay are subjects that should not take precedence during this initial interview. When statements of this nature monopolize the discussion, it tends to become more of an interrogation and less of a “getting-to-know-you” opportunity. What about– “What interested you in the field of dentistry?” “What are your long- and short-term goals for your career?” or “Doctor, what is it that you hope I will bring to support the health and growth of your practice?”

Sadly, many great employer/employee connections have been known to come to an abrupt halt based on focusing on topics that should be managed later in the process. Perhaps my bringing this to your attention will cause many of you to look at the purpose of the initial interview in a different light, thus rescuing what could be the perfect, long-term hiring commitment based on the ability to identify the strong viable candidates and the practice cultures that are ideal for the new team member.

It’s not Simply Handing over the Keys

The transfer of new team members to a new practice takes some planning

Practices are bought and sold all the time, and we know that anyone who has either been the seller or purchaser can attest to the fact that there is a lot to accomplish to complete the transition. But the area that tends to be the most difficult for both sides in the transfer is the team.

In the best-case scenario, the present team members all stay where they are and basically move on with the new owner/dentist ready to adjust to new systems, materials–just about everything. The vision for the practice will no doubt change as the new owner looks forward to putting his/her own brand on things, and frankly from what I have experienced over the years, most are excited to install their new state of the art “toys” and bring in new methodology, systems and procedures.

While some team members manage well with the change in command, others will choose to leave for numerous reasons. One of the very first things that the current team members begin to worry about almost before anything else is an adjustment in their wages.

“The new young dentist is not going to be able to afford me”, says the hygienist of 20 years.”

“Are we still going to get our medical benefits?”

“Will we now be working on Saturdays and perhaps starting earlier and ending later?”

While all these concerns are very real and many do occur, the only way everyone can move on in the healthiest and most respectful and expeditious manner is for both the outgoing and incoming dentists to agree that they must be totally honest and transparent. As soon as they are able to share the details they must plan to open up to the team.

Nine times out of ten the new incoming dentist prays that the entire team stays together. After all, the patients know them, so it’s a strong piece of congruency. The current employees know the systems, keeping the necessity for training to a minimum, and there is also an element of security there for the new dentist. Not to mention that it will not be necessary to go through the arduous hassle of hiring personnel. A huge load off one’s mind!

While this arrangement is probably ideal for the new dentist, the established team may be thinking differently. Some, upon hearing the news immediately give notice, whereas others will agree to give it some time, while there are others that might announce “unless everything stays exactly the same, I’m out of here”.

While this transfer of ownership/leadership can be stressful, it really doesn’t have to be. The missing link to this situation is that in almost every case the announcement is made to the team with very little information, hardly even eliciting a discussion. There is no dialog as to how things will proceed, but rather just the bare minimum of facts. Very little detail is offered, if any at all. Therefore, the passing of the baton can easily take a miserable tumble.

It doesn’t have to go this way. Why and how you might ask?

It’s once again about communication. As soon as it is feasible, sit the team down with both the incoming and outgoing dentists. The outgoing dentist introduces the new boss, fills everyone in on perhaps how they met and why he/she was the best person (in their mind) to take over the practice. The new dentist then shares his/her vision, how they see things moving forward, what changes will be made, what things may never change and what may totally change down the road.

They will be honest and open and completely transparent about everything from changes in salaries, to days and hours, any cultural changes to the feel of the practice and anything else they may need to know or should ask about.

Once the group is satisfied with the information they have gathered they are then told that they should take a week (or other pre-set time frame) and ask that they think about their positions and whether they want to stay or move on. Be very sincere when you let them know that whatever they decide to do there would be no hard feelings, but that it is best for everyone and the practice to know what the team members are thinking prior to getting totally entrenched within the new practice with the new leader.

Out in the open is the ONLY way to handle this. Everyone can move on in a healthy manner with no hard feelings and mutual respect rather than everyone trying to make things fit.

The outgoing team members can be offered an arrangement whereby they agree to train and possibly their replacement in exchange for giving them some time off to conduct interviews for their new jobs. This is done by agreement, in writing, with clearly defined timelines and specific compensation arrangements.

With it all, we do know that unfortunately there will be those that leave without a smile on their face, which unfortunately can’t be avoided. Better to know now rather than later so that everyone can develop a game plan together, making it a win/win for all.

 

 

When You Come to a Roadblock

How long do you try before you realize it’s simply time to give up

As children we are told to “try”, “don’t give up”, and “just keep on trying”. I know I heard this growing up and I’m certain that most of you heard this as well. As a result of these words, it takes me time to finally put my hands up and announce, “I just can’t make this work!” It could be as simple as my throwing up my hands during dinner preparation to state– “I have tried to open this jar for the past 5 minutes or so and my hands are red from trying, so I’m just going to have to give up and go to other ingredient alternative for my dish.”

The same applies to working hard at educating patients to understand the importance of flossing, maintaining a healthy mouth or simply being on time for their scheduled appointments. How many times do we have to have these discussions and how many different ways do we need to try and get our points across?

“When will others get it?” The answer is, in many cases it just will never happen. Again, for many of us (present company included) it’s an upsetting reality check to realize that our passion, our patience, our dedication and our sincerity is just not getting across—we just can’t break through.

It’s quite common for me to hear these things from fellow colleagues who contact me for guidance and advice when it comes to dealing with this very subject. It’s usually regarding the team members that are resistant to even “listening” to suggestions, much less agreeing wholeheartedly to make the changes that are recommended.

Getting stuck and receiving “push-back” is very common and for the most part when a client or team member offers nothing more than “ok’s” and “yes’s” you can probably assume that they will not agree to making any changes. Now as the old adage goes, “for every action there is a re-action”, which to me is where all the non-compliance begins. When you offer your advice, does your doctor agree with your suggestions? Does he/she support the direction you want to take? And is the team totally aware of the fact that the doctor is in total agreement to the change or changes that you are diligently working on correcting?

If the doctor/leader does not support the changes that are suggested by an advisor/coach or consultant, then you can rest assured the team will never buy into anything. I’ve said many times “just enrolling someone to help with team or practice management isn’t going to make everything right.” You must get total

support from the practice leader or you will continually be hitting the wall. How long do you want to pursue this exercise when you know after time that the owner/employer is just not going to bend at any cost?

Having experienced these types of frustrating and psychologically daunting situations over my 5 decades in the dental profession, I have come to use them as both a learning experience, and as an extra incentive to strive for success. And in the end, it has served to make my successes even more rewarding.

The Hiring and Integration Process for New Hires is Never Easy

Try this approach if you want to reduce stress

The ongoing dialog on dental related social media pages regarding “Working Interviews” has gotten the best of me. I’m not sure how well-received I’ll be or if anyone will even pay attention, but I’m passionate about this and feel as though the banter and confusion regarding this event (or better yet, let’s refer to it as the extension of the interview process) is an area I’ve been involved in more than most.

I won’t bore anyone with the details, but it should suffice to say that I have been coaching and supporting dentists and the owners of my dental placement agency franchises for over 20 years. I did sell the original prototype and all rights to the franchise licenses many years ago, but continue to stay involved in this area of dental practice management.

For starters, I much prefer to call this segment of the hiring process “The Skills Assessment”. I did away with the term “Working Interview” over 15 years ago when I realized that it was not a term I felt comfortable using, nor did it describe that part of the process in the right light.

I would like to take this from the very beginning, and I mean “VERY”. Let’s first talk about the true purpose of a Skill Assessment and how it applies to both the perspective employer/owner and perspective employee.

The purpose of this event is for BOTH the potential employer and potential employee to assess whether or not both parties are compatible. This means it should be as equal an evaluation as possible. There should be structure in place and in writing for each position that is being evaluated.

The owner/employer should NOT ignore this individual during the time they are being evaluated. What good is it if the hiring person (always with owner/doctor) has not been able to effectively view the skill sets, temperament, professionalism and any other areas that need to be assessed.

As I begin to walk everyone through this segment of the hiring process as I have been coaching it for my client/dentists for years, I will start with the basics and also offer some food for thought.

Let me first be very clear that I do not endorse a traditional on-the-job “working interview”, as my hope is to eventually prove that what has been in place for years is simply not working. I felt I needed to address some of the questions and concerns that have been posted regarding “Working Interviews.” My intension is to slowly offer some road-tested and proven advice on changing this particular event. This will eliminate many of the challenges and legalities, along with offering some guidance to set the final decision for the job seeker in order to make a smart and educated decision to accept the position.

And for the employer, I am proposing a thorough, concise and less “vague” way of evaluating a particular position. Hence, with more structured processes in place the debiliatating turnover rate in our profession will hopefully be considerably reduced. I can tell you, I’ve witnessed it with my clients since I’ve been guiding them through my systems, but there are thousands that I never had the opportunity to reach.

Facts to Keep in Mind

The hiring process is “driven” and managed exclusively by the doctor/owner/employer seeking the employee to ultimately hire.

It is their responsibility to have everything spelled out and prepared to oversee the hiring process with a purpose, clarity, transparency and re-usable systems.

This means “they” should be prepared with a thorough definition of what the position entails (and not simply a title), a printout of skill sets that are required initially including a comprehensive Job Description Outline. Also, the days of the week and hours are required to fill this position, a pre-determined amount of compensation for the (onsite, in-person) Skill Assessment that is set at a fair wage for the particular position for which the candidate is being evaluated.