Consistently high producing salespeople are rare – they represent 5-10% of the total sales population – so leading companies pursue them aggressively and are always looking for an edge to attract better and more reliable salespeople. Top salespeople are also different from average salespeople in that they look for career opportunities differently. Since there is excess demand for their services, they are very selective about employers for which they would consider working.

Consequently,  top sales organizations are sure to avoid making these recruiting mistakes that compromise the chances of attracting top sales talent:

1. Cumbersome Pre-Screening

Many employers like to use automated pre-screening tools to filter applicants, but top salespeople won’t bother to take the time to go through these.

2. Offering Jobs Not Careers

Every company wants to hire top salespeople, so great reps will be interested in more than a paycheque. They will be highly selective when making a career move, seeking employers that that offer career advancement that will look good on a resume.

3. Setting Up for Anything Other Than Success

Since a significant portion of a sales person’s money comes from their commissions and bonuses, they select employers based on the degree to which they can make sales and be successful. Employers will have trouble attracting the best talent if they cannot demonstrate that upon joining, a new rep will have a high likelihood of success.

4. No Track Record of Success

Top salespeople will quiz a potential employer on the number of people that are making their quota numbers, so smaller companies and those where there has not been a history of successful performance, will face a challenge recruiting the best reps.

5. Boring Job Ads

A quick read through the online job ads show that most sound exactly the same and are completely boring. Top salespeople are bombarded with job offers and recruiting messages so employers must ensure that their career offers stand out or they will not be noticed by the best sales reps. One great way to do this, for example, is to focus on specific goals the rep will be expected to achieve in their first 3 months.

6. Inflexibility

Employers who are not prepared to be flexible in terms of hours, vacation, location and role specifics are likely to reduce the pool of people that are attracted.

7. Treating Top Candidates Like They Are Not Important

Since top salespeople get a lot of attention from potential employers, they will quickly lose interest in employers that don’t fight for their attention. An employer will compromise their chances of hooking the best salespeople by failing to proactively express positive interest, cancelling interviews (or not showing up at all), not following-up after interviews, providing little or no positive feedback, making the candidate wait a considerable time before meeting them, and/or anything that says that making a great hire or hiring them is not a priority.

8. Compensation Not in Line with the Market

Great salespeople expect to be compensated well for their services and they won’t consider making a move that results in a reduction in compensation or cash flow (and they are usually earning at full commission at any point in time). Therefore, an employer that hopes to attract the best salespeople will have trouble doing so unless they are prepared to pay at or above market compensation including draws to replace commissions that are not being earned while a new pipeline is being developed.

9. Staff Turnover

We often hear from candidates about employers that are in constant hiring mode. While the employers might like to project the impression that they are always growing, word gets around. The sales community know which employers are assumed to have trouble finding or retaining sales talent and, of course, these employers are not considered desirable places to work. The same goes for frequent management turnover.

10. B Level Staff

There is an old saying that winners attract winners. Top salespeople want to work with other winners, so if an employer is staffed with B players then they are not likely going to be considered an ideal place to work.

11. Sales Hiring Committees that are Afraid of Hiring Great People

The recruiting process in many companies involves a variety of inputs and committee reviews. While the intentions are usually good, it is often the case that the people who are involved in sales person selection have little or no idea about the traits of a great sales person or how to assess these traits. Furthermore, it is not completely uncommon for members of hiring committees to have an inherent distaste for the traits that make great salespeople great (for instance, ambition, confidence, competitiveness).

12. Bad Branding and Marketing

Salespeople considering a career change will do their due diligence prior to engaging with a potential employer and nothing turns off candidates more effectively than a bad website or reputation.

13. Poorly Constructed Interview and Assessment Process

While wacky questions like how would you move mountains can be fun, the highest earning salespeople are primarily business oriented. They will be turned off if they think that a company isn’t being professional and thorough in its hiring process.

PS – Bonus – Myth Debunked

There might be a perception that great salespeople will not tolerate a rigorous hiring process. This is not the truth at all. Salespeople understand that great companies are successful because they are very selective about who they employ. Consequently, even top salespeople will commit to a thorough assessment process if they believe they are dealing with a great company (and notwithstanding the other issues identified in this article).

To your success!

Image courtesy of  jesadaphorn | freedigitalphotos.net


Eliot Burdett

CEO at Peak Sales Recruiting
Before Peak, Eliot spent more than 20 years building and leading companies, where he took the lead in recruiting and managing high performance sales teams. He co-founded Ventrada Systems (mobile applications) and GlobalX (e-commerce software). He was also Vice President of Sales for PointShot Wireless.

Eliot received his B. Comm. from Carleton University and has been honored as a Top 40 Under 40 Award winner.

He co-authored Sales Recruiting 2.0, How to Find Top Performing Sales People, Fast and provides regular insights on sales team management and hiring on the Peak Sales Recruiting Blog.

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