The success of a business largely depends on the quality of its employees, and sales personnel in particular can make or break a company. Even if a business offers the best product or service, a salesperson acts as the vital link between the business and potential customers. Incompetent salespeople can hinder customers from making purchases, while skilled salespeople can open up new opportunities for the business.
McKinsey reports that top-performing employees can be up to eight times (800%) more productive than average ones, showcasing the significant return on investment in hiring and retaining top talent.
The Cheap Hire Barrier
One of the main obstacles to hiring skilled salespeople is the misguided notion of seeking cheap hires to minimize expenses or stay within salary limits. However, this approach is counterproductive when it comes to recruiting sales staff. Rather than focusing on salary bandwidths, the priority should be to identify talent that can bring value to the company.
Unfortunately, many human resource departments reject excellent job applications based solely on salary considerations. As an example, we recently witnessed a multinational HR department engage in negotiations over a $10,000 increase in base salary for a candidate with industry expertise, a successful track record, and exceptional sales skills. Regrettably, the HR department refused to extend the salary bandwidth, resulting in the loss of this highly qualified candidate. As a result, the company remains with an open vacancy for over four months, still searching for a cheaper hire.
Undesirable Sales Candidates
One of the toughest lessons for companies to learn is that many salespeople are proficient in being average.
While it may seem like mediocre salespeople are the only available option in the job market, it is unwise to limit a company's growth potential. Hiring candidates solely based on their interview responses, a friendly demeanor, and an attractive smile does not automatically make them qualified salespeople. In fact, anyone can put on a façade and perform a compelling sales pitch during an interview. The most successful salespeople, however, may not necessarily fit the stereotypical sales personality. They may be reserved and not demonstrate their sales skills during interviews, focusing instead on evaluating the company's competence and fit for their needs.
If a company is struggling to attract competent sales candidates, it's crucial to examine its brand, culture, leadership, and hiring strategy. Time should not be wasted on undesired sales candidates who do not align with the company's needs and standards.
Hiring Competent Salespeople
Although it may be challenging, there are competent salespeople available in the job market, and their numbers are greater than most people realize. However, the difficulty lies in the fact that selling requires hard work, and experienced salespeople are unlikely to choose a position that makes their job harder than necessary.
5 Problems With Your Hiring Strategy:
1. You don’t know what to look for
2. The role on offer is out of date
3. Your brand is dull
4. You don’t provide enough benefits
5. You offer no long-term growth
1) You don’t know what to look for
Change is a perpetual aspect of sales, with alterations frequently occurring in buyer behavior and sales environments. One significant change that requires attention is that the hiring processes that were effective for the baby boomer generation are no longer suitable for the millennial and younger generations that constitute the current sales force. Sales managers must prioritize adapting their hiring methods accordingly.
With a new generation of sales employees entering the workforce, particularly in technology and modern industries, traditional hiring techniques of recruiting industry veterans are no longer applicable. The landscape has shifted, necessitating a shift in approach to successfully attract and retain top talent.
Highly skilled sales professionals utilize prospecting techniques similar to those used in selling to identify and target companies they desire to work for. They seek out organizations that recognize the value of their sales teams and market specifically to salespeople in dedicated environments. As a result, it is improbable to find them searching for job opportunities on general job boards.
To attract top sales talent, it is crucial to develop a strategy and vision for the desired profile of a sales hire. It is also essential to involve the marketing department and promote the profile in dedicated environments where the sales community is actively searching for potential employers. The content should accurately reflect the culture and brand of the company and be posted on specialized job boards that offer content, training, and other resources for sales professionals.
Offer capable salespeople the opportunity to follow the company and be the first to know when job openings arise. Rather than relying on outdated recruitment models, modernize how you market for salespeople to increase your chances of attracting the best talent.
2) The role on offer is out of date
The changing landscape of buyers, sales processes, and sales organizations requires a modern approach to managing sales teams. However, traditional job advertisements fail to attract competent salespeople, especially those belonging to the millennial and younger generations. They quickly identify that the company is behind the times and disengage.
Recruiters often use job descriptions to write ads that are rigid and boring, which does not appeal to motivated candidates seeking career growth. Companies that prioritize job titles over industry experience, trainability, and career progression miss out on top talent.
Today's salespeople are selective and seek companies that allow them to advance in their careers. They value trust, meaningful engagement, mentoring, winning cultures, and rewards over filling out CRMs and meeting traditional sales quotas. It's crucial for companies to adapt their recruitment approach to attract top talent and stay competitive in today's market.
3) Your brand is dull
In today's job market, your brand is critical to attracting competent salespeople, particularly millennials and younger generations. They prioritize experience and online reputation, often making decisions based on social media reviews. To appeal to these top performers, it's important to cultivate a culture that is seen as engaging, fun, and rewarding.
Your company should prioritize people over outdated systems, promoting health, happiness, and rewards. Your culture will define the quality of candidates you attract, so it's essential to create a workplace that goes beyond just work and fosters a social environment.
Dull companies are a turn-off for competent salespeople who seek engaging and meaningful work experiences.
4) Your Compensation Plans do not Give Sales Enough Incentive
Offering larger incentives is a key factor in attracting and hiring millennials and younger generations, who have a shorter-term focus on career advancement, retirement, and building their asset portfolios. Competent salespeople are skilled in earning commissions and incentives, and a flat salary with minimal bonus is not enough to entice them.
Rewards and incentives are crucial in the decision-making process when considering a sales job, so it's essential for your company to be flexible and generous in your salary package offers. This is particularly important because your goal in hiring competent salespeople is to increase revenue, and they will apply that same goal to their earnings. However, honesty is critical in compensation, as negative online reviews can quickly damage your reputation.
To attract talented salespeople, demonstrate how others in your company are earning rewards and how they can do the same. Offer a salary package that includes a flexible schedule, training, and other perks, and then provide a competitive base salary and reward plan that exceeds expectations.
5) You Provide No Long-Term Career Growth
To attract millennial and younger sales candidates, it's important to showcase clear career progression opportunities within your company. Simply having long-standing leadership and stable reporting roles may no longer be seen as a positive attribute. These candidates want development opportunities, increased responsibility, and more complex customer accounts to manage in order to achieve career advancement and higher compensation.
To showcase your company's career progression opportunities, it's important to document them thoroughly, including potential promotions and rewards. Provide clear timelines for each level of advancement and communicate the career progression of current employees. This can be done through various channels such as LinkedIn and other social media platforms, job descriptions, and during the interview process. By doing so, you can appeal to the career-focused nature of millennial and younger sales candidates.
Finding competent salespeople who can deliver growth and forecasted revenue is a challenging task that requires a tailored hiring process. To attract the right sales candidates, it's crucial to be relevant in today's market and align your recruitment practices with the behaviour of modern salespeople.
As an employer, you must demonstrate that you value your sales team and engage with candidates using modern sales techniques. By doing so, you can differentiate your company from competitors and stand out as a desirable employer. Ultimately, attracting the best sales talent will require a forward-thinking approach that prioritizes innovation, flexibility, and adaptability.