At various stages in their life cycles, direct selling companies need to hire new managerial staff from outside their organizations. It can be due to growth, due to a necessary change among staff or due to expanding into a new market. And not always are there suitable people at home. There are three major pools to search for that “right person”: Other direct selling companies, field leaders and “all other” industries.
Each of these alternatives has its own advantages and disadvantages.
Other Direct Selling Companies
As this industry is unique from a vast array of aspects, this is usually the easiest choice. The candidate knows the dynamics of this business model so you will not need to teach everything from scratch. While this alternative is not always exercisable especially if the industry is not big in that country, it is not always the best one, too. Just like the industry as a whole has unique characteristics so are each direct selling company’s corporate culture. If the candidate was not exposed to more than one direct selling environment and has worked for a single company for say, 10-15 years, it can be very difficult to change his/her learned rights and wrongs.
Although I have seen very successful examples, to me this is the riskiest alternative. For one thing, however they may be successful in what they have been doing on the field, field leaders are not usually experienced in running a corporation. And these two careers are vastly different from each other. Secondly, the traits they have built in time on the field are not necessarily the ones you will be looking for at your next Country Manager, for instance.
This is obviously a huge pool. I know not so few executives who oppose using this alternative and see it only as a last resort. Being a huge pool consisting of many industries, it holds all kinds of talents. However, “re-shaping” the person so that he or she fits in the industry may not be that easy. This is especially true in fields like sales and marketing. Having that noted, the hardship in the transformation very much depends on the willingness and the teachability of that specific person. If this alternative was not workable at all, the industry should have been relying only on the first two pools above and that would really limit its grow.
Personally, I do not have a categorical preference when making recommendations to my clients. It very much depends on the specific needs of that company and also the characteristics of the candidate in question.