When it comes right down to it an inbound agency is only as good as the people you hire.
Eventually you won’t be able to sell every new client, you won’t be able to onboard every new client, you won’t be able to service every client, talk to every client weekly and be accountable for every client’s results.
The more you add solid people to your team, the easier it’s going to be for you to focus your time on running, growing and strategically making sure your efforts show inbound agency growth. Freeing you up to work ON the business instead of IN the business is VERY important.
So in today’s blog article, we’re going to talk about ways to ensure your inbound agency hiring brings on the best and the brightest so you grow, grow and grow even more.
Screen for Culture and Core Values
I’m a huge believer in culture and core values. You won’t be able to find the right people if you don’t know who you’re looking for. It’s more than the professional abilities. Its attitude and aptitude. Honestly, the aptitude part is much easier to screen and train. But the attitude part is much, much more challenging. Hire a great person who is amazing at their job but a cancer in your office and forget it—your cooked.
You have to define your Core Values. You have to define your culture. We call them Cultural Imperatives. These values help function as a compass as you journey through the mass of potential candidates. Core values like Every Client Is A Raving Fan, No Fluff, Always Be Teaching, Practice What You Preach and Be Remarkable helps our team decide, day in and day out, if what they’re doing is on point.
Cultural Imperatives help people adjust their behaviors. Positive, Lighthearted, Agile, Confident, Empathetic and Solutions-Based are the personality traits we’re looking for in our new team members. If you don’t know what traits to look for, you won’t know who has them and you might hire the wrong person. Trust me, we’ve done it.
Make Behavioral Interviewing the Focus of an In Person Interview
You usually screen for Culture and Core Values but you should consider using behavioral interviewing techniques for candidates who make it to this second level. Don’t ask yes or no questions. Ask open ended questions that require detailed answers. Tell me about the last website optimization project you worked on. What did you do? Who did you work with? What where the results? How long did it take? What were the challenges? What were you most proud of? What would you do differently the next time? These are great questions.
The challenge is candidates don’t want to answer these types of questions. Stay patient and keep asking the same questions until you get the answers you’re looking for. You might find out that they don’t have the answers because they didn’t really work on the project like it appears on their resume. Try to go into the interview with a set of questions prepped in advance. If you’re having other people interview too, get together with them before the interviews start and make sure you’re both not asking the same set of questions. Consider a short scoring model, so everyone who interviews gets to provide quantitative feedback in the same format. This makes review and decision making much easier.
Put Candidates to The Test
We’ve been testing candidates for years and you learn more in this session than you do in all the interviewing and screening combined. I’ve seen candidates look annoyed, I’ve seen people reading off of cue cards, I’ve seen people woefully unprepared and I’ve seen great candidates struggle to answer the most basic off the cuff questions. How can you put people in front of your clients if they can’t handle even basic questions? You can’t and this part of the process weeds out the problems before they become problems.
Tailor the test to the role. We give writers writing tests. We give consultants marketing projects. We give designers design challenges and we give interactive people coding assignments. All generic, no client work and all designed to see how they deal with pressure, issues, lack of information, and other real life scenarios. For instance, some of our projects are missing information, on purpose. We want to see if candidates pick it up, how they handle questions and how they respond to partial info—just like in real life.
This is an extra step, but one well worth the time and energy to see how they perform outside a traditional interview environment.
Build an Onboarding Program with 30, 60 and 90 Day Reviews
I know this article is mostly about hiring, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t talk about how important it is to bring on new people in a positive and productive way. A great way to ensure new people get up and running quickly is to design an onboarding program. We take the first 30 days and create a series of sessions, meetings, videos and experiences that bring new people into our family in a very positive way.
Again, while this might take some time to create and will definitely keep them away from clients for at least a week or two, we’ve found that investing this time and energy into new people early means they’re going to be more productive later, much happier about their experience and more likely to be long-term, contributing team members for a long, long time.
I always think about my company as an exclusive group so I want people to be challenged before we accept them into our group. One of our Core Values is Team Equals Family, so I’m protective of our team, like I would be about my own family and I don’t want any new people in my family unless they share our values, mission and vision for the future. Hire slow and fire fast. Keep this in mind as you go through your own internal hiring process.
Start Today Tip – If I didn’t mention it, you need a hiring process just like you need a sales process and a process for helping your clients. Document it, share it with candidates, publish it on your website and teach your team how to execute it. The process should be a barrier to entry. People who don’t want to invest the time and energy won’t be right for your agency. Let them opt out before you even get started with them. People who want to work for you will tell you anything to get the job, but you’ll be able to see on their faces how they feel about an elongated and challenging hiring process. Take note of those reactions and respond accordingly.
The pressures of running and owning an inbound marketing agency can feel overwhelming at times. The key is picking and choosing the most impactful changes that require the least amount of work.Our latest eBook is NOW available! 13 Steps You Should Take TODAY To Grow Your Inbound Marketing Agency TOMORROW!
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