Recruiting salespeople

How Attract Top Sales Talent

Posted in: Sourcing Sales Candidates

To attract the top sales talent, start with a strategic plan.

According to a worldwide survey of 5,400+ employers by Mercer, the next 12 months will be a time of brutal competition for top talent. More than 90% of surveyed CEO’s expect to see increased competition for talent. This is really bad news if you need to attract top sales talent.

To win at this competition, you must be strategic. First, understand your audience. Define the characteristics of your top sales performers. Have your top performers take a sales benchmark, an assessment survey or a sales test to define the real type of candidate you need.

Note: Big Swift Kick provides a tool that you can use to assess your own staff to determine the qualities you need in a top performer. To get a free test of this assessment on one person, visit this link.

Create a list of winning qualities for a sales candidate (example: high sales GRIT) not a pre-defined list of canned qualifications (example: 5+ years of experience).

For more info on defining your ideal sales person, visit our post on interviewing the job.

After you have defined the person you need, think about where people like this spend time.

Determine your best sources for sales talent

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%)

Keep track of where you get your best applicants.

Birds of a feather…

Your sales team and other employees can be a great resource for locating new sales talent.

Create a robust sales-candidate referral program and offer incentives for referrals and for ultimate hires. Ask employees to talk about the opening on their social networks (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.)

To super charge your candidate referral pipeline, you can:

  • Ask new employees for referrals during the onboarding process
  • Create contests for employees to compete for the most referrals
  • Pass out referral cards at events
  • Allow non-employees to refer candidates (clients, vendors, past employees, etc.)

For more tips on creating a referral program, visit this link.

You can also promote your job opening where your target applicants hang out online. Consider appropriate professional associations, meet-up groups, LinkedIn groups, etc.

Use job boards and engines that work

SilkRoad in its report on hiring sources, consolidated information on 14 million applicants, 655,000 interviews, and 329,000 hires.

SilkRoad’s research confirms our informal sales managers’ survey: most hires come from internal or referrals sources. According to this wider survey, external sources account for about 48% of all hires.

Not surprisingly, the research shows that online recruiting (from job boards, job search engines, and social media) accounts for 72% of all external sourced hires. Therefore, you must build up a strong online presence and brand.

Based on its research related to job boards, SilkRoad reports that the top online resources for hires are:

  • Indeed (with 65% of all hires)
  • CareerBuilder (11% of all hires)
  • LinkedIn (8% of all hires)

ABR (Always Be Recruiting) to continuously attract top sales talent

Sales jobs have some of the highest churn rates of any position. Since the job market will get more competitive, plan on needing new sales team members. 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.

Don’t screw it up

Pay attention to your online reputation as an employer, especially for sales talent. In today’s world, most job searchers will look at Glass Door to see what others are saying about a company.

We had a client who had two strong candidates pull out late in the sales process because of some new complaints on Glassdoor. The client was going through some growing pains and didn’t keep an eye out for disgruntled employees. If they had, they could have preempted the postings or found a way to set proper expectations about growth and frustration.

Watch your online reputation, especially on Glassdoor. If you get a negative comment, respond on Glassdoor in a positive way. Don’t trash the person making the comments. Politely explain your situation. If you have problems, own it. Talk about the steps you are taking to remedy the issue.

If you need help creating a successful a sales candidate sourcing process, contact us. We would be happy to discuss your needs.