When customers approach us to find great salespeople, the focus, as it should be, is on the candidates we present. Key questions about each candidate’s past sales performance, their selling methodology, book of contacts, experience selling within the industry, traits, and likelihood of success within our client’s unique selling environment must be investigated and answered before a candidate could even qualify to know who our client is.

Given the fact that Peak only approaches passive candidates who are actively and gainfully employed, these candidates are often not willing to go through our rigorous sales assessment process without asking our recruiters some important questions about the employer.

Since successful sales recruiting is about win-win outcomes for both our customers and the candidates they hire, world class employers know the importance of being able to properly answer the following 5 key questions when hunting for new talent.

Here are the 5 things sales candidates want to know about you:

1. What sets your company apart from the rest?

Top sales professionals don’t want to work for just any company. In the war over sales talent, it is critical for employers to establish some significant differentiators from not only the competition, but against the stereotypical 9-5 grind that many salespeople face on a daily basis. Peak advises clients to utilize approaches including: highlighting their on-boarding program to demonstrate the significant investment your company will be making in the new hire to set them up for success; highlighting their view of maintaining a real work-life balance, including investing in their professional interests (ie. paying for 3rd party training, attending conferences, etc); and demonstrating a commitment to hiring world class people and avoiding inferior salespeople.

2. What opportunity is there to move up the corporate ladder?

A key characteristic of top performing salespeople is that they possess a level of drive and ambition that is much higher than that of their peers. Hence the reason why it makes perfect sense for them to inquire about their opportunities such as a move into a management role from a rep, or into the VP or director spot if already in a management position.  Being able to articulate, using examples from your organization, the advancement opportunities within the company enhances an employer’s ability to attract top sales talent.

3. How is the compensation package structured, how much more can I make, and how often are commissions paid?

While offering a compensation package that is at the top end of the market is always key to attracting top sales talent, a big, and sometimes overlooked aspect relates to the base vs commission structure. Is there a cap? Is there a draw? Are there accelerators that kick in at a certain level? How are these paid – quarterly, at the end of the fiscal year in a lump sum, or can the candidate choose? Top salespeople expect to be compensated well and know that the best employers have well planned comp packages that enable both the organization and the candidate to be financially successful.

Need assistance putting together an effective compensation package for your new hire? Check out these 6 tips

4. Are there any accounts handed over to maintain upon accepting an offer?

Sure the candidates you meet will be hungry to go out and land new accounts.  Some also appreciate working a few existing clients to get used to their new product/service/solution. This also gives them an opportunity to experience, first hand, the processes, objections and challenges potential new clients would encounter once they sign off on a deal. Put simply, great salespeople are well-rounded and want to understand and experience first-hand how existing clients view their company.

5. What is the financial standing of the company?

While salespeople are typically more comfortable with exposure to risk than non-sales types, making a move from a stable employment situation and income represents a huge risk. In a seller’s market (the top salesperson being the seller facing excess demand for their services), the onus to prove financial security is on the employer. Just saying revenues are ‘solid’ isn’t good enough for ‘A’ level sales talent; they want to know specifics. If you are not a marquee brand, you must be able to demonstrate consistent growth, or have strong financial backing.

Failure to have compelling answers to these five questions compromises sales recruiting efforts. On the other hand, comprehensive answers to these questions will pay huge dividends in the level of talent an employer can attract and more importantly, retain.


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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