10 Tips for Finding Salespeople in a Tight Market

Where the heck can you find good salespeople?

Finding good salespeople is hard most of the time. In a tight market, it’s even harder and a real time suck.

finding salespeople in tight marketWe’ve worked with top sales teams for years. We know companies hire and build great sales teams in good and bad hiring markets.

The best sales execs take recruiting talent very seriously. Based on our time in the trenches, here are our top tips for finding star salespeople in any market.

Tip 1: Make sure you use the right criteria

First, make sure you know who you’re looking for!

Finding salespeople best for you starts with defining them. What does it really takes a salesperson to succeed in your company? Define the traits you need. Don’t take the typical approach to job analysis and just listing skills, knowledge, and abilities.

Your criteria must depict what the person needs to do, not on who they need to be! Go deeper. Focus as much on describing the person as the position. Start your search, before you get this step correct, and you’ll never get a top-notch sales team. You’ll spend time looking for and hiring the wrong people.

The salesperson you hire must mesh with your company’s DNA and sales culture.

Tip 2: Move beyond the job boards

To cast the widest possible net, don’t just post on popular job boards. We informally surveyed 200 sales managers and asked them where they found their best sales talent. Here is a rank order list of best sources they reported:
• Referred to us (47%)
• Worked for a competitor (14%)
• Responded to Online Ad (12%)
• Contacted directly by the sales candidate (9%)
• Came from internal promotion (4%)
• Worked for a supplier/service provider (3%)
• Recruited from a university (3%)
• Came from a customer (1%)

Finding top salespeople for your company requires a strong referral network. Get your marketing department involved and launch a campaign to recruit good salespeople. Think about the influential folks in your sphere (customers, suppliers, past employees) who can help you build a steady stream of applicants.

Notice that online ads ranked below competitors in our survey. Remember you want to get your message to passive job seekers. Some of these salespeople work for competitors. Passive sales candidates aren’t actively seeking a new job. Though these folks aren’t at all happy with their current place, they are not really thinking of moving.

In a recent survey Gallup, discovered nearly 70% of U.S. employees are actually disengaged from their current job. If you can reach these folks, you can get them interested. Detached employees are “target rich” pool of talent.

Disengaged salespeople are not thinking about a new sales job until they see your compelling message. This is where marketing can help. Work with marketing to identifying the right audience, channel and message.

Tip 3: Depict the REAL job in your posts/ads

Your job posting should NOT sound like a job description. Speak about your sales culture. Be authentic and describe the uniqueness of your company. Avoid the phrases everyone uses, such as “candidate must be a self-starter, with great communication skills.” Be specific such as “candidate must be comfortable making 20-minute oral presentations to C-suite execs.”

Here is the BSK recommended formula for a successful ad
1. Use a descriptive title (consider the keywords candidate search on)
2. Detail the compensation (use a range if this will vary)
3. Describe the frustration candidates may have with their current job
4. Include the good news (describe them as a person and sell the dream of your job)
5. Don’t sugar-coat (tell them the hard work to attract the most likely to succeed)
6. Explain the four our five things they need to be successful
7. List the qualifications they need to bring with them

For more information on how to describe the real job, get a copy of our free Guide on Hiring the Best People for Your Company

Tip 4: Ask salespeople customers, vendors, and partners to refer candidates

Tap into the network of individuals who understand your company and services. Your long-term customers, top vendors and business partners all have an understanding of your company’s culture. Ask these outside stakeholders for referrals for potential sales staff. Make sure they know when you have an opening.

Tip 5: Build a sales candidate referral program internally

Ask your current employees to refer potential sales candidates. SHRM reports that employee referrals are consistently the top source of new hires. New employees referred by current staff tend to have a higher job satisfaction and a longer tenure with employers.

Not a surprise, because your existing staff understand your company and know the individual they are referring. To encourage these referrals, put a formal process in place and offer compensation for referrals.

Tip 6: Look within

In addition to asking employees for referrals, consider recruiting new salespeople from other departments in your company. Do you have people in purchasing, customer service or other departments that might be interested in sales? Make sure you promote any job openings to all current employees

Tip 7: Think outside the box

In our experience, the most successful sales teams hire new salespeople based on attitude and aptitude, not just skills and experience. You can always teach the skills.

After you define the attitude and aptitude, think about where you can find individuals with those traits. Look to social media. Identify where these types of folks hang out online. Launch a creative social media contest. For example, a top ad agency invited folks interested in selling for them to post a video of the candidate selling a brick.

Tip 8: Build a bench of possible prospects

Always be recruiting. If you’ve been in sales a while, you know these jobs have some of the highest churn rates of any position. As the job market heats up, you will need new sales team members. Your sales folks will leave. Create a bench of potential hires.

Keep any great potential hires in your orbit. Add them to your social networks. Invite them to events. Send out email announcements to your potential list when you have openings.

Tip 9: Enhance your brand

Build a company where people want to work. Pay attention to your online reputation, especially in the online job boards and forums. What do present and past employees say about you on Glassdoor?

You’d better check because your sales applicants will. We’ve heard many sales job seekers say “after I read the online reviews about that company, I’d never apply there.”

In a tight market, sales job seekers have many options. If online comments consistently ding your company, own it and/or change it. For example, if your past employees complain about long hours, you could say in your ad “We expect you to work hard long hours, but the benefits and pay are amazing.”

Tip 10: Hire the right way

The best way to minimize the need to hire new salespeople is to hire right and keep the folks you have. If you can reduce turnover, you can stop the churn. It all starts with hiring the right salespeople for your company. We have created a series of free documents on how to test sales applicants, ask the right questions, hire the right salespeople, and onboard them correctly.

You can get any of these free documents at the following links.

Guide for Selecting the Right Sales Assessment for You 

Guide to Grit Questions for Interviewing Sales Candidates 

Guide to Hiring the Best Salespeople for Your Company

Guide for Successfully Onboarding Salespeople

Good luck. If you need help, please contact us.

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