Do you need to hire a sales team? When it comes to building a great sales team, savvy businesses follow a variation on the perennial sales mantra: “Always Be Closing.”
For hiring and building a team, the refrain is (or should be): “Always Be Recruiting.”
Why? Because (a) companies thrive or fail based on their sales volume; (b) the most talented sales reps are always in short supply; and (c) you never know where your next rock-star salesperson will come from.
Furthermore, notes Inside Sales Box, the urgent need to replace a gifted, departing salesperson “can force you to compromise and the ones hired might be merely the talent available rather than ideal candidates who are a great fit for the company.”
In other words, filling a sales position in great haste is frequently a recipe for disaster.
For a more systematic approach to recruiting the kind of high-performing sales team for your business, consider these steps:
Determine your company’s genuine need for salespeople.
What are your personnel needs in terms of sales?
Heinz Marketing defines “personnel needs” as “the number of new salespeople depending on sales growth targets, distribution strategies, changes in sales force organization, and sales force turnover.” Armed with this information, you can avoid hiring when you don’t need to, but in a more positive vein, focus more closely on the type of salesperson your company needs.
Tap into your professional network.
Traditional approaches to hiring have their advantages, but an alternate first step (or in addition to “normal” recruitment activities) is to reach out to people in your professional network for referrals–colleagues, vendors, current and former clients, even your own employees.
Once you compile a list of prospects, contact these individuals (even if you don’t have a job opening and/or they’re not looking to change positions). Let them know that you know they’re out there. Staying in touch with your top two or three candidates means you’ve got a functioning pipeline to call upon later on.
Craft job descriptions that stand out from the rest.
Simply put, a generic job description is likely to attract generic job candidates. Meaning, what you’ll get is individuals with some talent and experience. BUT they may also be lacking the specific traits and knowledge your sales team demands.
Job postings, by and large, are incredibly boring to read. Stand out from your competitors by taking time to craft a sales job description that taps into an applicant’s hopes, ambitions, and desire to make a difference.
Without in any way falsifying the nature of the open position, look for ways to describe it that’s different from flat statements like, “We need new associates to boost sales of our products.” Instead, build into the description answers to questions like these:
- What’s unique about your organization?
- What’s the typical length of employment for sales team members?
- Do you provide a competitive pay and benefits package?
- Would you describe your workplace environment as “fun” or “challenging” or “inspiring?”
- Are there genuine opportunities for sales reps to advance within the organization?
All of these considerations should be added to the job description. But be sure it’s done in a way that’s certain to catch an applicant’s eye.
Identify the skills you want.
Hiring the right salesperson isn’t achieved through a “one-size-fits-all” approach to recruiting. Skills, rather than sales experience, is often regarded as the most desirable trait for a candidate to possess. Soft skills–those centered around successful customer interactions–may be more valuable than the number of years a salesperson has been in the game.
For example, it’s tempting to “hire someone who made the most calls at their last job,” notes Capterra. “But if your product is a new idea in the marketplace that requires a lot of education, an ability to educate prospects” is more important than call volume.
Tap into LinkedIn’s powerful resources.
LinkedIn offers an advanced resource for recruiting sales reps and other types of workers. Its advanced search function enables you to compile a list of preferred candidates through filters. These filters include job title, zip code, and education, among many others. The popular site’s premium accounts bring even more powerful resources into play. The premium features include an expanded search through the entire LinkedIn network of applicants.
Promote your company and its culture wherever you can.
Enterprising businesses do everything in their power to boost their reputation as an “employer of choice.”
To achieve this, they devote a ton of space on their website to relay the story of the company’s culture. These businesses maintain a steady stream of news and updates on their social media platforms. They also consistently let their followers know that the organization is great to work for, and always welcomes new applications.
Assuming your strategic recruiting efforts have paid off, now you have a handful of quality candidates to interview. As we have noted elsewhere, here are key interviewing mistakes to avoid:
- Going into an interview without becoming familiar with an individual’s educational and professional background
- Relying on questions that require only “yes” or “no” answers, as opposed to open-ended questions designed to get beneath the surface
- Lacking a systematic process that applies to all applicants (confirming interview, scheduling, what to bring to the meeting, questions asked, etc.)
- Failing to include others in the interview process, such as HR, department managers, and employees who might be working with the chosen candidate
- Doing most or all of the talking, when the real goal is assessing the candidate’s personality through his or her answers to questions, their body language, level of interest demonstrated in the conversation, and so on.
In other words, “going by your gut” in deciding to make a job offer is a surefire way to bungle the interview and selection process.
Great salespeople are out there. Some are “passively” waiting to be recruited. It’s up to you and/or your HR team to let the world know you’re looking for them. More importantly letting them know that, if hired, they will be treated like superstars within the organization.