When it comes to hiring salespeople, businesses often face two big challenges:
- Where can we find the type of smart, aggressive and talented professionals we need?
- How can we avoid ending up with the sloppy and unproductive salespeople we can’t get rid of?
Either way, effective sales recruiting remains an elusive goal, with costly hiring mistakes always a possibility.
Fortunately, there are proven methods to improve your sales recruiting efforts, as long as you’re willing to commit the time and resources needed to make them work. Here are key suggestions to significantly enhance your sales recruiting strategies:
Determine the traits you’re looking for. According to a Harvard Business School study noted by sales expert Landy Chase, the best salespeople share these specific character traits:
- Complete responsibility for results
- Higher-than-average determination and focus on success
- Dedication to self-discipline
- Intense commitment to achieving goals
- Extraordinary ability to empathize with customers
- Not personally offended by the word “No”
“The self-discipline and desire to be the best isn’t something that you can teach, cajole, or bribe,” Chase writes. Drop “experience” from your must-have elements in a sales candidate “and look for motivated people who can come into your organization and find an environment in which to excel.”
- Create a detailed job profile. Your chances of landing the right salesperson increase when you work from a detailed profile of the skills you’re looking for. Also, factor in the types of companies you want salespeople to approach and whether you want them to focus on finding new business or strengthening relationships with current clients.
- Focus on referrals. There’s no better way to achieve better recruiting results than by beefing up referral activities. Obviously, look to your professional network for possible referrals, but don’t stop there. Consider all the following as potentially rich sources for referrals:
People You Know — This can be friends or family members, your personal physician or the people next door.
Employees — Get the word out among employees you’re looking for the next great salesperson. Back your request with an incentive program that rewards quality referrals.
Suppliers and business providers — Ask vendors and service providers for referrals, based on their in-depth understanding of your business.
Clients — Your customer base is another potentially rich source of referrals.
Social media — Depending on the breadth and depth of your company’s social media community, you’ll likely see results by putting the word out about your search for excellent sales candidates.
- Offer genuine growth opportunities. High-performing salespeople often look to join companies with a genuine path for professional growth. Sales expert Matthew Bellows advises stressing “employee development programs during the recruiting and interview process, so candidates can envision themselves at your company for the long-term.” Offering growth opportunities can make a strong believer out of a merely promising employee.
- Get out and about. Sure, you can post job descriptions online and hope to corral a few candidates that way. However, nothing beats attending industry events, tradeshows, Chamber of Commerce meetings, etc., and meeting men and women who — by showing up again and again — demonstrate their commitment to improving their skills and broadening their professional networks. Aren’t these the types of go-getters you’re looking for?
Competition for top sales talent has never been tougher than it is today. However, with a refined and laser-focused recruitment strategy, you can tilt the odds of hiring a sales superstar in your favor.