The time to start hiring strong leaders, experienced salespeople is now.

This choice of topic may be unexpected, given that we are all in the midst of responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. As I write, a majority of Americans are under stay-at-home orders. Essential businesses are operating as normally as possible, but many businesses have the bulk of their workforce working remotely. Some businesses have even had to lay off or furlough employees. With all of this going on, why would I choose to write about hiring now?BIC Recruiting shaking hands after hire

Now more than ever, it’s critical that you have strong leaders and experienced salespeople not only to sustain the business but to take advantage of the growth opportunities that will exist in the marketplace when the economy rebounds. Forward-thinking executives are looking to their teams and marketplaces for opportunities. I recently listened to a webinar by trainer Barb Bruno, who talked about the importance of using this moment as a time of preparation. Take this time to assess your business and examine it for strengths and weaknesses. Then, assess your marketplace, search for growth opportunities and work to position your company as a go-to resource in those target industries or geographic regions. For many businesses, part of this preparation will mean hiring new talent. The time to begin this process is now, so you will be prepared. Technology has made it easy to conduct phone or video interviews, and the great thing about working from home is candidates are more easily available for interviews.

For a business considering taking advantage of marketplace growth opportunities, there are two key hire categories to focus on: strong leaders and experienced salespeople.

Strong leaders

Strong leaders inspire others. They are adept at building and growing teams. They are strategic, process-oriented and data-driven. They see the big picture but also understand the importance of the details. They are growth-oriented and have a proven track record of adding new geographic markets and expanding new products or services. They have launched new divisions, grown existing ones, and will have merger, acquisition and integration experience as well. They are passionate about what they do, take ownership, and have a desire to continuously improve both themselves and the company. Those traits rub off on team members around them. They are servant leaders who lead by example.

Experienced salespeople

Experienced salespeople understand their industry. They have high integrity. They have trusted relationships and deep connections at the plant and corporate levels. They have the ability to open doors and uncover opportunities that less-experienced salespeople cannot. They are the customers’ advocate within the organization. They are forward-thinking and strategic. They look for opportunities to grow the business. They are goal-oriented, driven and decisive, but they also partner well with others. They are persuasive, influential and strong communicators. They will often have operations experience in addition to sales experience. Like strong leaders, they have a passion for what they do and a desire to see the business grow and flourish.

To conclude, take some time to assess your business. Do you need additional “bench strength” in either of these areas? Adding hires from these two categories will set your company up for success now and growth in the near future. What we are currently experiencing is just a delay. When the economy comes back, it is going to come back quickly. Use this as a time for preparation. Get your business positioned to take full advantage of the market growth opportunities that will present themselves.