With more than $1 billion in annual revenue, Global Imaging Systems (GIS) is the most profitable provider of copiers, video conferencing, network integration, and other imaging solutions to middle-market companies. GIS works with a lean headquarters staff of less than 50 people, conducting its business through 21 ‘core companies’ and their locations. These core companies now employ 1,600 sales reps and 1,900 service reps, along with other staff.
GIS faced a very high turnover rate among its sales reps. “It was hire, hire, hire and then fire, fire, fire,” says Geoff Harrington, Director of Benefits and Training. It cost GIS roughly $50,000 in recruitment, training, and lost sales to replace each sales representative. The firm decided to improve selection of both reps and managers, and to train them better.
Working With Chally
GIS Senior Vice President – Human Resources, Cecil McClary successfully used Chally at a previous company. He liked Chally because its assessment was thorough and tailored to individual roles. GIS explained the Chally approach to its core-company presidents at a regular quarterly meeting. Chally then assessed over 900 incumbent sales representatives and interviewed core-company sales leaders to validate the skills that predicted success for the copier sales position.
GIS initially rolled out an assessment program for copier sales rep selection, using this tool for a year-and-a-half. Chally and GIS then reviewed the assessment based on the performance of reps over both the short and long term. Chally discovered there were really two sorts of successful copier sales reps, hunters for new business and farmers who could cement current relationships. The assessment report was then revised to rate sales candidates’ suitability for either sales position specialty.
Chally also helped GIS reform its selection process. The Chally profile counts for 30 percent of the hiring decision, the interview(s) represents 30 percent, and resume, background, and reference checks account for 30 percent. The remaining 10 percent is “good old-fashioned gut,” Harrington explains. The Chally assessment is given online after a pre-screen of applicant, but before the interview stage. All these hiring steps are conducted by the core companies, not headquarters, and Chally conducted extensive training of these companies’ staff. All human resource managers at core companies are now certified in the proper use of Chally assessments.
The new approach was so successful, it continued to expand. Chally also developed skill profiles, validated specifically for GIS, for reps who sell high-tech services and solutions and for all service technicians. Chally tailored profiles, validated from its extensive client database, are now used for managers, technical staff, and accountants. Chally continues to validate and refine its assessments through an annual review of performance of people hired under the new system.
Chally assessment results are also used for training and coaching. “It gives you guidance on whether, for example, a person will need a push on cold calls,” Harrington explains. “This is very important.” And Chally does a talent audit on existing staff, looking for reps who have the potential to be good sales supervisors, managers, or vice presidents. Harrington contrasts this approach with traditional methods of promoting successful reps to management, which can be a hit-or-miss strategy.
GIS assessed a total of 3,200 candidates, including 250 administrative staff, 500 service technicians, and the rest, salespeople. There are, on average, three candidate assessments for each open position.
Turnover among sales reps went from “hideous” to “a damn sight better,” Harrington emphasizes. He and McClary estimate that company-wide turnover has been cut by at least 20 to 25 percent. Even turnover among service reps, which was never a big problem, has been reduced “moderately.”
A Dramatic Example
Results at some of GIS’s operating companies have been even more dramatic. Connecticut Business Systems, a subsidiary with 200 employees, had experienced a terrible 89% turnover among its salespeople. “We used Chally, but had not really bought into it and did not fully understand it,” remembers CBS President Wilson Vega. So Chally trained CBS managers on how to use the assessment and how to improve candidate selection and interview techniques. CBS began using the new selection process much more rigorously. In a year, turnover was slashed to 13 percent.
CBS continues to use Chally results in training, managing, and developing its sales staff, and Chally results are given to managers of all new reps. Vega says Chally results are also helpful in judging how open a candidate will be about his background. Overall, he is extremely pleased with the Chally approach, saying, “I only wish we had it earlier.” McClary agrees: “Chally is uncanny in its accuracy.”