optimized-istock_16721780_mediumAccording to the Boston Consulting Group, of every HR practice, recruitment processes have the most significant impact on revenue. Companies that effectively recruit the best candidates exhibit 3.5x the revenue growth of competitors that poorly manage their recruitment efforts. This article will break down the biggest mistakes hiring managers make at the offer stage – and explain best practices to avoid them.

A company’s ability to find, recruit, and hire the ideal candidate for every sales role can make or break its long-term growth prospects. For organizations that have found the ideal candidate for their unique selling environment, nothing is more important to this process than the offer stage. It’s the culmination of time, money, and resources that are allocated to finding the best possible salesperson to help execute the sales strategy.

Some organizations consistently reach this pivotal stage without successfully enticing their best recruits to sign on the dotted line. With that in mind, this article details the biggest mistakes hiring managers make during the offer stage of the recruitment process. By incorporating the accompanying suggestions, your company can greatly enhance its sales talent acquisition efforts:

1. Not Previewing an Offer

Over the course of the recruitment process, the hiring manager should have collected information on the current salary of the rep, as well as their compensation expectations for a new role. Previewing an offer — or sharing high-level elements of what an offer would look like before extending one — verifies that the hiring manager is aligned with the salesperson’s career expectations.

Specifically, previewing an offer has several benefits:

  • It gives candidates a sense of how serious the hiring company is about bringing the candidate onboard without the formality of a written document;
  • It speeds up the process, ensuring that the company is well-positioned in the case of multiple offers;
  • It leaves room for further negotiation for both parties. If the hiring manager shoots too low, it gives them the opportunity to reassess compensation before a formal offer.

2. Lowballing the Salary

Salary negotiations are complicated in sales, but one thing is clear: below and at-market compensation packages never incentivizes the best recruits to join your sales team. In fact, Peak’s internal figures suggest that 93% of companies who lowball a candidate during the offer stage fail to hire the candidate.

Offering a low or average salary sends the signal that the company doesn’t value the candidate or the sales function as a whole — it’s one of the most likely ways to end a negotiation before it starts. The quality of the salespeople on a team is directly correlated to the salary they are offered. Top salespeople know their value to an employer, and they expect a competitive offer that recognizes the ROI they deliver. Therefore, to recruit the best candidates and consistently grow your company’s revenue stream, sales leaders need to understand that offering compensation packages that are above market is a strategy to build a high-performance sales organization .

3. Taking Too Long

“A” players are highly sought after in the marketplace. These top performers regularly receive multiple offers from employers competing for their services. If one hiring process takes much longer than another, chances are the candidate will go with the first option. A fast offer, one that is presented within 48 hours after the final interview, demonstrates to the candidate that the company is committed to bringing the individual onboard.

Top performers want to work for companies with effective, efficient business practices that cut through the red tape rather than adhering to them. A recruitment process that places a high-emphasis on presenting offers in the ‘two day window’ shows candidates exactly who they will be working for — a driven, dynamic company that’s willing to speed things up to get them on the team.

4. Overcomplicated Compensation Plan

Some compensation plans include tiered reward levels, with multiple and varied financial incentives for different kinds of sales. Although these plans reflect the intention to motivate the salesforce to overachieve their sales targets, they can confuse, rather than clarify, the expected income. When a candidate struggles to identify what their on-target earnings will be in the first 180, 360, and 540 days, these types of plans can discourage candidates from joining your organization. In fact, our data suggests that 4 out of 5 candidates agree that overly complicated compensation formulas discourage them from accepting an offer of employment. 

Instead, the best employers construct a simple compensation plan that can be built out over time and that is tailored to the individual’s motivations and needs. A compensation formula that links financial rewards to the sales activities that brings in the most profitable revenue for the company is a comp plan that both a candidate and their future employer can agree upon. This approach ensures clear alignment between the effort of salespeople and their income, which gives candidates an accurate image of their earning potential, and one that puts them in control of the value they will deliver to the company over time.

5. Small Territory

One of the biggest complaints of sales reps is that their sales territory is too small. Talented salespeople will not leave their current roles unless it’s clear to them that they’re taking on a territory that gives them the bandwidth to surpass quota, earn accelerators, and continually drive profitable revenue for their employer.

We see sales leaders  frequently make the fatal mistake of not giving enough attention to this aspect of their sales force design and the impact assigning small territories has on their talent acquisition efforts. The reality is that it’s a major contributor to why companies fail to incentivize top salespeople to sign their employer offer.

To mitigate the risk of territory size becoming a point of contention during the offer stage, hiring managers need to:

  • Describe the size of the territory’s potential customer base and profitability,
  • Emphasize the company’s process for evaluating the local market potential and it’s impact on what candidates care about: earning potential, account value, and travel requirements.

6. Failing to Provide Details

When salespeople weigh a new opportunity against their current role, they don’t make the decision solely based on their salary and on-target earnings. Instead, they take a holistic approach when thinking about their choice. They want to know specific details about the comp package.

Specifically, candidates expect an offer to include the following:

  • Health Insurance Plan
  • Vacation Days
  • Retirement Plan
  • Company Car
  • Commission Plan with Assigned Quota
  • Covered Expenses
  • Existing Account Base

Other less tangible benefits, such as flexibility and autonomy, can make a significant difference on the decision of a candidate too. Depending on a salesperson’s priorities, these attributes can tip the scale in the direction of a new job. By giving a comprehensive picture of each aspect of employment, you can maximize your likelihood of hiring your top candidate(s).

7. Not Selling the Opportunity

High-performing salespeople are standouts at their current companies because they’re surpassing quotas, growing their market base, and cultivating strong relationships with prospects that can be leveraged in the future. To recruit these candidates, companies need to put themselves in the candidate’s shoes and sell them on why they need to join the company.

At each stage of the recruitment process, and specifically during the offer stage, you need to give ideal candidates compelling reasons to change jobs. Bestselling authors Geoff Smart and Randy Street have identified five things that candidates care about the most – the “five F’s of selling” – when considering signing on the dotted line.

The five F’s of selling a candidate to join your company include:

  • Fit: The alignment between the company’s vision, needs, and sales culture with the candidate’s values, goals, and selling abilities.
  • Family: The impact changing jobs has on the candidate and their family.
  • Freedom: The autonomy granted to a candidate.
  • Fortune: The territory, market opportunity, earning potential, and specifics on the financial standing of the company.
  • Fun: The sales culture, working environment, and personal relationships the candidate will make.

If your company isn’t a brand name in the market, prospective salespeople will hone in on the  specifics on the financial standing of your company; they want to shift to a company that exhibits consistent growth or strong financial backing. Don’t breeze over these details — hiring managers need to provide solid evidence that by joining the team, a candidate is positioning themselves for continued growth moving forward. The most successful companies always frame a new position in this way, with clear information on the promotion track at the organization.

These seven offer-stage mistakes can damage even the most effective recruitment processes.

To ensure you don’t make these mistakes, download the comprehensive offer stage checklist by filling out Peak Sales Recruiting’s form below:


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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