Let’s face it: businesses hate losing money. So when companies start shelling out $115,000 for every salesperson lost and replaced, C-Suite executives double down and focus their efforts on employee retention. Turnover among sales professionals is close to 20% creating a big challenge for sales leaders.
This status quo creates one big problem: businesses are constantly losing sales talent, unable to build a steady sales team and always in search of new, quality salespeople to replace the outgoing ones. Additionally, new businesses struggle to find available and committed salespeople due to their high mobility.
This blog post covers our strategy to find a salesperson — how to begin, where to look and what to do to keep them after you find them.
1. Create the Ideal Candidate Profile
Crafting the ideal candidate profile starts with the customer. Since your customers directly interface with the sales team, they should have a say on who gets hired. Using a feedback form (or any equivalent), nudge your customers to tell you the traits they value most in a salesperson.
From there, you can take over. Ask yourself and other stakeholders questions like:
- What qualifications do we want in a candidate?
- Will experience rank over qualifications?
- Entry-level or experience?
- Do we need someone to aggressively pursue new leads or gently nurture our existing ones?
- Is geography a factor?
In other words, create your profile based on the sales task. You’ll notice we didn’t mention considering parameters like — goal-oriented, active listener, problem solver etc. Those things are just a ‘bland summary of the Boy Scout handbook.’
Odds are every sales candidate will say they are those things even when they’re not. Instead, shift the focus to your company’s sales tasks so it’ll be easier to build a custom candidate profile.
2. Write a Thorough Job Description
Since you’re searching for a unique salesperson, creating a distinct call sign to help them identify your business as a good place to thrive is necessary. How? Job descriptions.
You need them no matter where you find your sales candidates, not just job boards.
Job descriptions present your first opportunity to set the right expectations — your requirements, candidate responsibilities, company culture, and compensation structure.
Contrary to public opinion, job descriptions are best kept short and engaging. A one-pager is sufficient.
Top sales candidates look for keywords like ‘team leader’, ‘industry-specific experience,’ and ‘build customer relationships’, so be sure to include the right keyword blend in your job listing.
Here’s a good job description template you can work with.
Remember, if the job description isn’t good, the candidates who apply won’t be either.
3. Search in the Right Place
Good salespeople that match your specific requirements are not scarce if you know where to look — and there are several places to look.
Let’s go through those places together:
Some say you’re never more than six people from meeting someone famous. They are absolutely right; fortunately for us, that dynamic operates the same way with salespeople.
Though generic, your professional and social network is indeed an ideal place to begin your search for top salespeople. Talk to your family, friends, and colleagues (past and present).
Don’t leave out salespeople who have already pitched or are still pitching a product to you. They’re worth hiring if they can get you to buy their product while working for someone else.
Networking events (for entry-level and senior roles)
Thousands of sales conferences are held annually, meaning thousands of salespeople are together in conference halls yearly, sipping drinks and eating low-fat pretzels.
That’s good news for you.
Look up events (sales conferences, trade shows and seminars) in your preferred area, then make an appearance. It’ll be like fishing in a small packed pond with a big net especially if they are already looking for you too.
That first bit is more suited to senior roles. If you want entry-level sales talent, redirect your search to look for college career fairs and alumni events.
Or, you can steal a page from the playbook of corporate R & D. Form a partnership with a university to set up an award or sponsor an event to get backstage access to teeming sales superstars.
Sales recruiting firms/agencies
If you’d rather skip the time-consuming process of finding great sales candidates, a sales recruiting firm is the way to go.
Sales recruiting firms are heavily connected. They know all the best salespeople and where to find them, even those who might be engaged elsewhere.
They’re about the best medium to find salespeople for any role in your company. Make sure to select the right recruiting firm.
Check the track record of the firm and ask about their process. Prioritize firms with exceptional reach and customer support.
Job boards for salespeople are everywhere, listing a thousand sales jobs to ten thousand sales reps.
To be fair, job boards don’t always work. Many times, applications from these sites are less-than-satisfactory. However, you can still make lemonade from lemons by observing job descriptions and salary structures posted by your competitors. That insight can be instrumental.
One more thing to note on job boards:
Your ideal salesperson could be anywhere, including a current engagement with another company. They won’t be looking at a job board and are unlikely to see you. This is often the case when searching for a salesperson to fill a senior role. Now you know what to expect.
Other social media
Twitter, Facebook, and Slack communities are also good platforms to help you find top salespeople. Use hashtags to navigate your way on them.
4. Leverage the Network of Your Current Sales Team
If you already have a sales team, speak to them. Their knowledge and experience count more than you think.
The sales profession, though unfairly, has always been associated with false positives or, if we’re being blunt, lying.
No one is better suited to differentiate between people of true substance and those with credentials as false as a politician’s promise.. Plus, your next hire probably shared a seat in college with someone currently on your team.
Ask for their input, and they’ll point you in the right direction.
If you don’t have an existing sales team, simply reach out to a sales recruiting expert willing to help. Sales recruiting firms and LinkedIn are good places to discover salespeople who will share valuable insights.
5. Prioritize Promising Candidates
Top-performing sales reps can be elusive. They’re sifting through multiple job offers simultaneously, so they can be undecided, choosy, or both.
If you feel strongly about a candidate’s potential to positively impact your business growth, reach out immediately.
6. Go Through Resumes With Intent
Online job openings are reported to attract 250+ resumes, so we’ll run through a few helpful tips to help you review them better and faster:
- Look for resumes (and cover letters) with a personal touch. This is especially important in the post-generative AI era.
- Be open-minded about sales background and experience. Although experience in selling software is not the same as selling hospital machines, it doesn’t necessarily mean a candidate won’t succeed if given a chance.
- Check for tangible results. Don’t be swayed by resumes that claim to have had ‘huge success’ without proof. Pay more attention to a resume that says ‘exceeded my sales target by 15% developing X strategy.’
250+ resumes won’t survive this process — and that’s a good thing. This process is admittedly tedious but the results are worth it.
7. Make the Most of a Screening Call
During this phase, your job is to become familiar with the potential sales candidates. Ideally, you’d want to know more about their qualifications, basic expectations, and whether or not they fit the company culture.
A short phone call or video of 15-30 minutes feels appropriate for a screening call. You might ask questions like:
- Tell me briefly about your sales experience
- What are your short-term career goals?
- What are your salary expectations?
- What’s your favourite sales strategy?
If you have any concerns after reviewing the resume, now’s the best time to review them.
One more thing, a screening should be informal. That might be the best way to establish a genuine connection since everyone’s on edge during formal interviews.
8. Ask the Right Questions in the Final Interview
Interviews are really about questions. Ask the right questions, and you’ll find the right salesperson.
We can’t tell you what the right interview questions are for your company (unless we know more), but you can’t go wrong with asking questions that help you understand a candidate’s approach to tackling sales tasks.
Once the interview is complete, ask your hiring team these questions:
- Does the candidate have the ability to be vulnerable and honest about shortcomings?
- Do they set learning intentions for themselves and strive to become more successful?
- Do they have a good approach to customer service?
- Do they have experience upselling customers?
- Can they thrive in a competitive environment?
9. Keep Communication Open
The interview may be complete, but there’s still work to do. It’s no good going through all that stress only to lose a top candidate to a competitor.
Keep conversing with the promising candidates if you’re still deciding or sorting through administrative red tape. Tell them they’re on your mind and will be contacted once a final decision is made.
10. Negotiate. Hire. Onboard.
Top salespeople will negotiate their pay. Negotiating is practically habitual to them, and you might even be bothered if they don’t try to get you to pay more.
Make a hiring decision based on sound logic and good judgment.
Finally, patiently review short-term and long-term company goals, office policies, and other important information with the new hire(s).
To find successful salespeople, do these things:
- Mold your target candidate profile
- Write detailed job descriptions
- Search your network
- Attend networking events (senior roles) and college career fairs (young talent)
- Leverage LinkedIn and other social media platforms
- Don’t rely heavily on job boards
- Hire a sales recruiting firm
- Ask your sales team for advice
- Search for non-generic salesperson roles
- Review resumes
- Screen candidates
- Conduct immersive interviews
- Follow-up on promising candidates
- Negotiate pay. Hire and onboard.
Leave the Search to Peak
Finding the right salesperson can be a daunting task. It requires tact, expertise, and a bucket load of research. But that doesn’t have to be your burden.
At Peak Sales Recruiting, we know the best sales talent and are constantly discovering more. We can help you find and recruit your next sales superstar without hiccups.
Contact us today to get started. We’ll take care of the rest.
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