Professional Sales Recruiting History

Professional, Commercial, and Institutional Sales, and Marketing Rep Assignments

Peter Civardi

Professional Recruiting Summary of Projects Completed over 30 years

Prior to entering the recruiting industry on the first workday of January 1973, I worked for Smith Barney as a retail stockbroker for a little less than two years in La Jolla, California. This was my first exposure to professional sales. I was only 23 years of age working in an office of seasoned professional salesmen. The next youngest broker in my office was in his early 40’s.

My immediate supervisor had been head of sales training for IBM’s Office Products Division. At that time, this group was considered one of the premier professional sales organizations in the US. I received great training from my manager and from Smith Barney’s structured six-month training program.

Brokerage sales success is accomplished by building a large book of clients over time through telephone cold calling, and then maintaining strong relationships with clients through telephone calls and occasional in person meetings. I was fortunate to work with, observe, and learn from numerous polished professional salesmen while I was a young broker. Success in retail stock brokering was and still is more about sales ability than financial acumen.

After a year and a half, I explored institutional brokerage in Los Angeles for a few months. The positions I targeted were almost unobtainable for at person my age and experience level. Looking back, I believe I would have been successful in the institutional side of the business.

In the course of my job search, I became interested in the selection and hiring process of management and professional people. Toward the end of this project, I met two principals of a well-known recruitment firm in L.A specializing in stockbrokers. They were amazed at the number of managers I had been able to meet in such a short time. These people were difficult to see. The recruiters suggested I might be a good fit for their business.

I decided to give recruiting a shot. After quickly securing job offers from two attractive firms in San Diego, I started my recruiting career with a branch of a major franchise firm. It was 1973. I was 25 years old.

Good luck followed me. I worked with three highly successful recruiters and a brilliant franchise owner who made sure I received excellent training. Within a few weeks, I knew I had found my life’s work. I was comfortable calling industry managers to sell myself and the recruiting services I provided. In short order, I was signing new clients, accepting assignments, and filling positions. I was an outstanding new performer within a national 40-office system.

In mid-May of ’73, I resigned to open my own firm. The Vietnam War was winding down. I had seen quite a few junior military officers (JMO’s) departing the services and believed I could create a viable business enterprise recruiting the best of them for large companies. Over the next several months, I obtained state licensing, and a hard-to-get SBA loan. I signed a five-year lease, bought furniture and equipment, and opened for business in October 1973.

Over the next 18 to 24 months, I built a business client by client. My sales training in brokerage and recruiting served me well. Military Recruiters of San Diego made a profit in its first full year of operation. About half of the work we did for client companies was sales or marketing recruiting.

Here is a sampling of continuing sales/marketing recruiting projects I performed or supervised over the next 30 years:

Exxon/Mobil Oil Corporation — Marketing Representatives

Under the able and demanding supervision of Lee Culkin, College Recruiting Manager for the Western Region, I was taught how to hire people the “Mobil way”. Then, as now, major oil companies paid top dollar to hire the best candidates available. These hires were Mobil’s marketing representatives to independent Mobil gas station owners. They advised and motivated owners and managers on how best and most profitably to sell Mobil products and run their businesses. We put many JMO’s and a few exceptional college grads with limited work experience into these slots over the course of a decade.

Procter&Gamble — Sales Representatives

The job might have been better titled “Marketing Representative”. These reps do not “sell” to customers. Rather, they advise and lead retailers to better ways of selling their P&G branded inventories to retail customers. P&G has always had high selection standards and an accurate, methodical, and dependable selection process. They taught me that no company should ever feel it is beneath them to sell their opportunity. When P&G decided they wanted a candidate, they employed a persuasive campaign to get him or her on board. I worked over a decade finding high potential candidates for them. One of our recruits, Steve Case later created AOL! We also found P&G an occasional Brand Manager. These were highly coveted spots, even for top MBA program graduates.

Dean Witter, Paine Webber, and others — Retail Stockbrokers

Recruited JMO’s for entry-level retail brokerage training programs. My own experience at Smith Barney helped me immensely. This is a true professional sales position. Retail brokers are called “Account Executives” and other titles to deemphasize their sales roles to the public. By the late 1970’s, it became apparent that JMO’s were rarely suited to this business. Front line field sales at companies like Xerox and IBM were better training grounds for brokers. We withdrew from this market, as other JMO specialty firms entered, because we thought the occupation was a poor match for the skill sets and competencies our candidates possessed.

Baxter Healthcare, Hospital Supply Division — Professional Salesmen

The “Supply Division”, was the flagship of American Hospital Supply Corporation (today it is Baxter Healthcare). They had exceptionally high hiring standards for entry-level salesmen. They offered a great career with huge income potential at a time when the hospital supply business was booming. Sales were to purchasing departments, but usually at the direction of doctors, nurses, and technicians. AHS was one of the first major US firms to embrace behavioral, rather than experiential based hiring for management, professional, and sales hiring. Their HR Director, Andy Logue, generously invited me to participate in their in-house behavioral selection training for managers presented by Developmental Dimensions International (DDI), the preeminent trainer in the field then and now. My years working with regional AHS HR managers made me competent in this advanced method of hiring/selection. I had some wonderful top-tier experience with them that spanned more than 10 years.

Baxter Healthcare, V. Mueller Division — Professional Salesmen

V. Mueller sold high grade, hand held surgical instruments to neuro and orthopedic surgeons. Although these positions also required superb individuals, the profile was substantially different from the AHS division. Successful salesmen usually possessed both technical proficiency and special personalities that resulted in their being treated as near colleagues by their physician customers. Almost all our recruits performed very well. Many progressed to district, regional, and national sales manager positions. One started his own successful surgical supply company when AHSC and Baxter merged in the late 1980’s to become Baxter Healthcare.

Baxter healthcare, Dietary Products Division — Professional Salesmen

Another group within A.H.S.C. These divisions were in effect individual businesses, and therefore separate clients. The salesmen here targeted hospital administrators, purchasing agents, and dieticians to sell food related systems, products, and services. This was a lengthy sales process, usually requiring several months per project. The hires were less qualified than both the AHS and V. Mueller groups, but still formidable as compared to the average medical supply company.

Johnson & Johnson — Marketing Representatives for several divisions

These were mostly classic marketing representative positions where the goal was to increase sales through better merchandizing by supermarkets and drug store chains of mainstream consumer health products, such as disposable diapers, hygiene products, analgesics, dental floss, etc., and of course Band-Aids! A couple of business groups had positions selling directly to doctors, as well as private and public healthcare organizations. J&J has always adhered to high selections standards and is a great place to work and grow.

Bausch & Lomb — Professional Salesmen

This was really more of a marketing representative position, which demonstrates the fact that it is dangerous to rely on the title of a position to determine whether it is a sales or a marketing job. These reps called on ophthalmologists. We did not do a lot of work for them. In fact, we only referred two candidates. Both were He was offered and accepted a position. One performed in the top 5% of all salesmen at B&L and became National Sales Manager in just a few years.

Alcon Ophthalmic Pharmaceutical — Sales Representatives

One of five divisions with of Alcon. This group promoted sales of prescription drugs by calling on Ophthalmologists. A classic pharmaceutical sales function. Not direct sales work, but rather the promotion of drugs through the people who prescribe them. The real sales action for Alcon is done in the divisions that sell capital equipment, such as electron microscopes ($200K in the ‘80’s), or instruments and consumables to doctors and medical facility managers. Alcon adheres to high standards across the board.

British Standards Institution — Salesmen for Quality Assessor Services

A true sales position. Success derived from effectively selling the added value of obtaining ISO 9000 and similar certifications from the original and world-renowned quality registrar. The initial specifications BSI supplied seemed off the mark. Rather than begin the project right away, I decided to travel with a couple of salesman to observe first hand what happened on a sales call. My sales background allowed me to see quickly that it made better sense to hire proven salesmen and retrain them as assessors. They had been doing it the other way around. Nine months later, our first hire was selling more than the rest of the eight person sales force combined! He personally produced enough profit to pay for all the executive and clerical salaries, plus overhead at the US corporate headquarters.

Weyerhaeuser, Willamette Industries, and Container Corporation of America — Salesmen

Corrugated box sales sounds boring. It definitely is not. These positions require persuasive, personable charming motivators who can provide consistent, on time customer support, while serving a variety of personality types in a broad cross section of industries. This work is interesting because the customer industries are so varied. Successful salesmen earn large incomes. The challenge is creating and maintaining relationships through persuasive leadership and attention to detail. Computers, toasters, and refrigerators all require corrugated packaging once produced. So do processed food products, office furniture, and medical equipment. The variety is endless and fascinating. Short-term mentalities do not do well in this type of sales.

ATT Wireless — B2B and Corporate Salesmen

Brought in as an expert in 2003 by a regional VP on a six-month contract assignment to undertake a difficult telecommunications challenge in a highly competitive marketplace. High volume recruiting by HR had improved cost per hire and time-to-fill metrics. Better indicators of success might have been gross profit dollars generated and staff turnover. I took over filling these positions in the Northeast. The first and second level line sales managers appreciated having someone advise them whose last assignment was either in retail staffing nor benefits administration.

These 12 client summaries illustrate my broad understanding of sales and sales recruiting. I have been trained and retrained as a professional salesman several times, used these skills for business development over a lifetime, and been associated with numerous Class A corporate sales organizations as a consultant for over more than a quarter century.

It would have been easy to add a dozen more past client summaries, contract assignments, and field assignments to support the fact that I am well qualified to help build almost any type of sales or marketing staff for most products and industries.


About Peter Civardi

Career HR Consultant for high-potential management development recruitment of JMOs, high profile recent college grads, and new MBAs. Experienced and adept at classic retained search for individual positions at compensation packages up to $250,000 (USD) per year. Available for paid job search guidance, coaching, resume and business networking site editing for sites such as LinkedIn and WordPress. Qualified by 30 years work in recruiting and executive search for Fortune 500 companies.
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