How to Hire Hunters

Our clients rely on us to find all sorts of sales professionals from sales support to reps and managers, to executives and sales VP’s, and a significant portion of the positions we work on are the hard to find top producing and reliable hunters. Reps who are able to develop territories will make or break a business.

When we first engage with new customers, we dig into their sales hiring processes and understand how they evaluate and select candidates. When it comes to hiring sales reps for hunter positions, companies are often under so much pressure to fill vacant positions that they cut corners and bend their own hiring rules to see candidates in a positive light. We understand the urgency, but settling on under-performers or hiring non-hunters into hunter roles is a recipe for disaster.

Here are the rules that can’t be broken when hiring hunters for sales reps:

1. Where to Look – As we have said repeatedly, you can’t post ads and expect to attract top producing sales reps and the same goes for top performing hunters. They won’t see your ads. You need to find wherever they spend their time and you will need a compelling reason why they should hear about your opportunity.

2. What to Look For – While requisite domain knowledge varies by industry, hunters are, by nature, confident, ambitious, persistent and optimistic. These are the traits you need to be scanning for when screening potential candidates. When you find these characteristics, key in on the the other traits that mean they will fit with your company and sales team cultures.

3. How to Interview – Hunters are trained to sell in high pressure situations and they are cold blooded calm. They can think on their feet and provide great answers when required, so don’t give them an opportunity to concoct perfect answers. Don’t ask them where they would look for business with you, ask them where they find business with their current employer. Find out how they deal with constant rejection of calling on new customers. Ask them how they compete, how they deal with losses, how they get in front of big decision makers, and what kind of sacrifices they are prepared to make to be successful.

4. How to Reel Them In – They will be leaving a pipeline that they fought hard to develop. Even if their current position is not perfect for them, it is the devil they know and you are the devil they don’t know. They are risk oriented but they are also money motivated and joining you presents a risk to their income; your job is to mitigate their fears. You will need to show them how other reps are doing in your company and why they will earn as much or more with you as they are currently. Another of our posts details five ways you can attract great reps.

Good luck!

More on How to Hire Superstar Sales Reps: Do you Employ Sales Superstars?The DNA of a Peak Performer

Startups and Salespeople

Selling in a startup or a small company is a lot different than selling in an established company. On the pro side, selling in a startup means less red tape so reps can be more opportunistic and aggressive on pricing. On the con side, reps have to sell without an established brand, references or much marketing support. As a result, reps who can consistently sell in a startup are rare, even if they can sell in a startup in a new industry.

Every dollar counts in an early stage company, so when you are hiring reps be on the lookout for several different types of reps er commonly see in startups:

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Woe is the Cover Letter

Cover letters used to accompany 100% of resume submissions and provide a degree of insight into the job applicant. That was before email when a cover letter was the way a resume was introduced. Now we see cover letters perhaps 40% of the time, and usually an intro is provided in the email to which the resume is attached. The prevalence of job boards and submission forms seems to have trained people to not bother with cover letters so there is a continuing downward trend and many people simply send a blank email with a resume attached.

We generally ignore the cover letter because so often they are poorly written or don’t compliment the resume.

I have seen many awful cover letters over the years that it makes me wonder what people are thinking. Some of my favorite quotes from resumes include the following:

“Yes, I do interested the opportunity.”

Either multitasking or still learning English and neither will impress an employer who values language skills. We get thousands like this.

“My skills make me perfectly suited to any position you might have available.”


“I am a hard and contentious worker”

Uh, I think…hope they meant something else.

More geat examples of horrific cover letters and quotes over at Killian Branding Cover Letters from Hell  .

Where Are You Looking for Sales People?

Ran across this article posted at sales coach site –> Where Are You Looking for Sales People?

Some interesting points for employers hoping to find top performers via job boards.

The downfall of this mass marketing approach is the complete lack of focus and specialization. Of course they get tens of thousands of visitors a day but do you care? When you are looking for a sales person it doesn’t matter how many nurses, waitresses, truck drivers, retail clerks and other job seekers are visiting the website. No, the only thing that counts is how many qualified job seekers are finding your ad for a sales person.

The next problem is how quickly does your job posting getting lost in the clutter of competitive ads on these mega job boards. Take a few minutes to review all the ads that are posted and then use the website search function to search for sales jobs. Does your job appear on the first page or are you lost in the clutter of retail sales clerks, insurance agents, real-estate agents & financial planners, door knockers and MLM’s who are all looking for people.

My experience in trying to use job boards like Monster or Workopolis when building my own companies and sales teams is that you get a frustratingly high number of unqualified resumes in response to your ads and there are seldom any worth interviewing. The shotgun approach doesn’t work well in recruiting top sales talent. right candidates for your roles usually have very specific traits and the chance that they happen to see your ad and respond are so low that it is hardly worth the effort.

More Top Sales Recruitment Insights: It is Easy to Have a Poor Sales Hiring Record and What You Can Do To Avoid ThisThe Pitfalls of Hiring Sales People Based on Experience

Are Sales Reps Motivated by Money

money motivationI ran across this great post  What Really Motivates Sales People.  The author, Jim Keenan, a sales exec who also writes the A Sales Guy blog, shares thoughts about the significance of money in motivating sales reps. He also shares comments from members of his linkedin group. The bottom line from his perspective is that “sales people are not motivated by money. They, like others, are driven by accomplishment, self-actualization, challenges and recognition.”

This is a thought provoking topic to be sure and in many years of working with sales reps, building sales teams, managing and recruiting sales professionals, I generally agree and so do many others.

“The man who does not work for the love of work but only for money is not likely to make money nor find much fun in life.” – Charles M. Schwab

“If you work just for money, you’ll never make it. But if you love what you are doing, and always put the customer first, success will be yours.” – Ray Kroc

I agree that the best salespeople are usually motivated by a higher purpose which may be anything from a personal mission, to personal achievement, but it is important to keep in mind that the best sales people are often very competitive – even with themselves. There is a fine line between being driven by achievement and being driven by money. Donald Trump put it well when he said “Money was never a big motivation for me, except as a way to keep score.” I have seen many people crave a certain level of income only to achieve it and then decide it is not enough and they want more.

Still not everyone is the same. If money was the main motivator for everyone, sales people would simply work 24/7 and earn more commissions. But they don’t. At some point, money is not the main motivator and that line is different for everyone.

Perhaps as the career of the average sales person advances, they are less focused on money as they have achieved a decent base and are meeting their basic needs.  There is interesting proof of this from Dave Kurlan at OMG. “If we look at the data from the 450,000 salespeople that have been assessed by Objective Management Group, the percentage of findings showing lack of money motivation, especially among higher income earners, has been increasing each year. It’s not that they aren’t money motivated anymore, as much as they aren’t as money motivated as they were earlier in their career, when their money motivation got them to their current income level.” (from What We Think About Sales Motivation is All Wrong)

When candidates tell us they are more interested in the opportunity than the compensation, we know what they actually mean is they need to make a certain level of income but they have can trade-off some income for a more interesting opportunity. They are still highly motivated by money and will not accept a position below their target income, its just that money is part of mix of things that is important to them.

Being too motivated by money can be a problem. If you have ever had a rep on your team that will break every rule to make a commission, then you know what I mean. Reps who forget that they are on board to make customers successful, help build the company and get paid well in the process are are highly disruptive to your business and your team. No one needs people on the team putting themself before the team. Integrity plays a huge role in success.

Another downside of a team purely motivated by money is noted by CJ Ng at Psychselling. “When companies use money as the only motivator, it is also a riskier proposition. There’s nothing to prevent competitors to use the same motivator to entice your best people (along with your best customers) to defect.” (Good post here How to Motivate Sales People Without Money?)

But it still comes back to money. Although less empirical our experience speaks to the relevance of money to sales people. We meet thousands of sales people every year and there is no question that compensation is top of mind for most and particularly the top performers. In fact, we often joke that if someone is not interested in money, they probably haven’t made much.

Our clients want to build teams of high performance sales people and it is certainly true that to be successful requires a lot more than an interest in money. Depending on the type of sales role and selling environment there can often be dozens of necesary personality traits and competancies required to be a top performer.

Money is certainly a useful lever. Companies that pay below market have trouble attracting the attention of the top performers. In a study of more than 2000 sales people, conducted by Barnett Consulting (Money Motivation in Sales People), “74% reported that their primary career motivation is money and less than 25% disagreed with the statement “my most important goal is to make lots of money.” The report goes on to say that companies that put less emphasis on money are likely to attract less money motivated people, who are described as “antithetical to productive sales behavior.” Put another way, “companies that pay more tend to attract better talent.”

Whatever works. I admire Jim’s stance and more power to him if he can build a successful team of members who are motivated by things other than money. There is a lot of evidence that his experience may be the exception rather than the rule.

Either way, it is likely that your team includes people that are both money motivated and motivated by other factors and in order to get them to perform well, you will need to serve each of their unique needs.

Good luck!

Also Read: Money and its Influence on Sales Behaviour