If you’re like most Sales Leaders, you diligently track “Time-to-Fill” openings. Every day a territory is open, it delivers zero performance. Zeroes add up quickly and do irreparable damage. It’s nearly impossible to Make the Number with open territories. HR business partners and Sales Leaders are judged on this metric. It’s difficult to grow revenue faster than your industry’s growth rate and faster than your competitors.Leverage the How to Make Your Number in 2018 Workbook to access a revenue growth methodology to hit your number quarter after quarter, and year after year.


In a recent conversation with an HR leader, we talked about key metrics. Without glancing at a report, she quoted her current Time-to-Fill and her goal. The current average is 62 days, from Open Requisition to Start Date. Her goal is 30 days. It’s a huge and dangerous gap. She admitted that it’s the biggest single risk of failure in supporting her Sales Leader. 


If you’re like most Sales Leaders and HR business partners, the threat is constant. This post will answer the question, “How can I improve our Time-to-Fill sales vacancies?” It includes a free download – the Agile Time-to-Fill Accelerator Tool guide. This guide describes a program that will shave days or weeks off your open territory time.


The Root Causes of Slow “Time-to-Fill”

Let’s start with a quick look at the basics. Where are the time drains in the recruiting and hiring process? This varies among sales organizations. Here’s a list of 13 basic steps everyone follows. Each can take days or weeks. A month or more can quickly add up. How long does each step consume in your process?


  1. Approval to fill the opening
  2. Internal posting period
  3. Engaging a recruiter
  4. Sourcing candidates
  5. Screening applications
  6. Scheduling interviews
  7. Conducting interviews
  8. Candidate evaluation and comparison
  9. Background check / drug test
  10. Offer letter
  11. Salary negotiation & acceptance
  12. Notice to current employer
  13. Day one


Stepping up the Pace

The problem with the process isn’t that it has 13 steps. 13 is a lot, but they’re all necessary parts of a reliable hiring process. The problem happens because the steps are done in sequence. An Agile approach converts this from a serial process to several, simultaneous processes. Here’s how:


Start today with Steps 3, 4, & 5. Don’t wait until there’s an opening or approval to fill one. Everyone is always a “hiring manager.” Engage HR to begin recruiting now. Identify the hiring profile and start sourcing candidates immediately. By the time a territory opens, you’ll have a supply of Ready-to-Hire candidates. It’s called a Virtual Bench.


The Agile Interview Day

Scheduling (Step 6) can be the most time consuming part of the whole process. Here’s how it usually goes: The Recruiter finds a few good candidates. The hiring manager is interested, but this week’s calendar is full. Worse, it could be quarter-end. Time slots that work for the hiring manager don’t work for the candidate. The Recruiter shuttles email invitations back and forth. Late next week looks promising. A week or more quickly evaporates. Meanwhile, the territory has produced zero revenue.


The “Time-to-Fill” Guide gets Steps 6, 7, & 8 done long before Step 1 happens. Here’s how it works:


  • Agile Interview Day: Schedule one day each month for Agile Interviews. It works best if it’s the same day each month. Not too close to the last week, when closing orders is the top priority for everyone. The second Friday of the month may be a good choice. The key is to develop the discipline to get it on the calendar every month, especially when there are no openings.
  • Interviewer Rotation: Sales Managers take turns in an interview rotation. 3 managers work together on Interview Day. They evaluate the candidates on behalf of the whole sales management team. Everyone acts as a ‘hiring manager.” The Recruiter sets the expectation with each candidate that there is no specific job opening. Successful candidates will next be invited to interview with the VP of Sales and become part of a “Virtual Bench.”
  • Roles & Responsibilities: The Recruiter, Sales Managers, Sales Operations, and the Senior Sales Executive all work together as a team. The Time-to-Fill Accelerator guide describes the timing and expectations for each player. Sharing the workload and keeping a steady pace are the keys.


It’s Time to Pull the Trigger

When an opening occurs, the most time-consuming parts of the 13-step process are already done. The hiring manager selects a candidate from the Virtual Bench and makes an offer. There’s no scheduling, and there are no delays. The candidate is primed and has made personal decision to take the job when offered.


The entire management team benefits from each other’s ability to judge talent. An open territory puts extra work on the understaffed hiring manager. There’s less time than ever for job interviews. Interviewing is easier when a full team is pulling every oar. It takes discipline to recruit when there’s no pressure to fill an open slot. Other priorities get in the way, and suddenly a crisis occurs.


HR can play a vital role in the Agile Time-to-Fill Accelerator process. HR keeps the momentum going. The process is a relentless search for top talent, and a monthly interview day to evaluate them. There’s never pressure to lower hiring standards just to fill an open slot. 


Keeping the Virtual Bench Warm

Once a candidate earns a spot on the Virtual Bench, the real work begins. It’s vital to stay in touch and keep the motivation high. Conditions change over time. A top candidate may find another position before a vacancy occurs.


The recruiter must maintain a weekly cadence of personal contact with the Virtual Bench. It’s important to ask the question, “How soon could you start if the job was offered today?” This makes the decision imminent, not theoretical.  


The Interview Day is a significant time commitment, so it’s crucial to constantly encourage those who are ready to be hired.


5 Steps To Go Agile Today and Accelerate

The best time to start the Agile Time-to-Fill Accelerator program is now. If every territory is filled, you can stay ahead of the game. If you have open territories, you need a teamwork approach to fill them. Start now with these 5 steps:


  1. Download the Agile Time-to-Fill Accelerator Guide
  2. Identify the team members for each role
  3. Share the guide with the team and set expectations
  4. Schedule Interview Days for the next 6 months
  5. Build and maintain a Virtual Bench


Your Time-to-Fill metric will soon drop dramatically. And it will stay that way. The Virtual Bench will ensure that open territories are quickly productive. Take the risk out of Making the Number – start your Agile Time-to-Fill Accelerator program today.  


Have expectations gone up and left you wondering if you can make your number? Here is an interactive tool that will help you understand if you have a chance at success. Take the Revenue Growth Diagnostic test and rate yourself against SBI’s sales and marketing strategy to find out if:

  • Your revenue goal is realistic
  • You will earn your bonus
  • You will keep your job