Closing a sale can be difficult and it can be even harder to find the sales applicants that are capable of doing so. A great candidate on paper may have been spoon-fed by a friend or relative in his or her previous position. Hiring great salespeople is extremely competitive. Even in the tech-savvy San Francisco Bay area, sales jobs outnumbered programmer jobs by 65,000 to 20,000 on a major job board. Let’s explore the common problems of hiring sales staff that can impede your hiring process.
Common Problems of Hiring Sales Staff
When interviewing for sales positions, there are a number of common mistakes that HR hiring managers make. Shrm.org posted an article that listed these common assessment errors:
Sure, it’s a cutthroat hiring environment in sales. However, that doesn’t mean that you should act hastily to hire a promising candidate. An unfilled position is better than making the wrong hire, which costs money and limits your ability to hire an even better candidate.
Trusting Your Gut Over Technology
Recruiting technology can help to narrow your choices and shore up traditional screening techniques such as checking references. It’s important to include all the steps no matter how appealing a candidate may be. Unless you’ve actually worked with a person, your gut instinct is practically worthless in sales. Salespeople can make a great first impression, but that needs to be reinforced by hard data.
Overselling the Job
Overselling is always taken as a sign of weakness. Great salespeople won’t be impressed, and lazy salespeople will misinterpret your efforts as an easy gig for them. Sales take extraordinary effort, and the work is never easy. Don’t sugarcoat the job or exaggerate the difficulties.
Hiring Like-Minded People
People are different. If you hit it off with an applicant, that doesn’t mean he or she will be successful. The candidate might have a sales background that’s comparable to yours, but he or she might not have learned the same lessons. Top producers approach sales in radically different ways, so don’t limit your hires to like-minded people.
Delaying Corrective Action
If a new hire isn’t a good fit, it makes no sense to delay taking corrective action – such as assigning a mentor, providing additional sales training or terminating the person.
Creating an Appealing Environment for Sales
Building a strong sales culture can help attract top salespeople to your company. Word gets around, and you can publicize your company’s sales culture to get even better results. Managing your salespeople so that can spend more time on selling instead of paperwork is a big draw for many salespeople. Giving them the tools that they need to succeed is also a critical factor in attracting talent.
How to Find Top Sales Talent
The most important recruiting strategy is to build a network of business contacts. The greater your network, the more qualified resumes will arrive at your desk. Keeping a pipeline of sales hiring leads is critical for any organization that relies on sales. Some of the top resources for building a sales referral network include:
Your Own Files
Using recruiting software and applications like predictive index software, which helps to assess a candidate’s strengths and weaknesses, you can search your own files for likely candidates that you might have passed on previously. It’s important to look for sales talent constantly even when you don’t have immediate openings.
Current Sales Staff
Your existing sales staff members likely know some talented salespeople in your industry. Staff referrals usually rank among the best hires because employees know the candidates and the company.
The strongest social media platform for business is LinkedIn. Top professional salespeople look for jobs and post resumes on the platform. LinkedIn allows you to search for candidates using keywords, demographic profiles, industry experience, and other criteria.
Inbound.org is an ideal resource for companies that want to hire indoor or inbound sales staff. Candidates on this platform generally have greater experience in digital technologies and software certifications such as Hubspot.
Local Business Groups
There are many local business groups in your community that make excellent sources of sales candidates. Join the local chamber of commerce and other business groups. Many cities have regular business lunches where people from different fields connect over lunch.
Niche Job Boards
Top job boards like Monster.com and others are great hiring resources. Niche job boards are also excellent resources for finding sales candidates. You can post your openings on job boards and check on people who are looking for jobs. Social recruiting is becoming increasingly popular, and you can use recruiting technology software to manage and screen your applications, which is especially helpful if you get too many from social media marketing.
Your existing customers are one of the strongest sources of referrals for sales jobs. Your regular customers know your company and its products, so they can make intelligent referrals for sales staff.
Business networks like BNI are a great source of sales candidates. BNI is the world’s largest business network, and the membership benefits include increased networking opportunities – such as the ability to attend 52 networking meetings a year – and access to professional development programs. You can get sales hiring referrals from all over the world.
Community groups, local colleges, churches, and synagogues almost always have a designated manager or jobs ministry that helps people find employment. Most colleges and universities have job placement offices. Reaching out to these offices is a simple way to expand your outreach efforts.
Offering incentives for referrals that result in a new hire is a great way to get quality hiring leads. Employees that come from referrals are proven to stick around longer and be better cultural fits.
Writing Appealing Descriptions
Writing the best possible job description generates substantial hiring benefits. Your descriptions can be posted in marketing, on job boards and on your website to attract top talent.
Salespeople Are Found, Trained and Cultivated
There may be a few natural salespeople, but you can’t rely on finding natural superstars. Good salespeople are developed using your company resources, product knowledge, and teamwork. Using recruiting software, arranging third-party assessments of candidates, and building a strong professional network and internal sales culture are the most important steps to successful sales hiring.
At Sprockets, we specialize in finding the right applicant for the job. Our affordable assessment services provide unlimited monthly assessments for just $99 per month. Unlike other companies, we don’t follow generic assessment guidelines but create a customer-specific assessment based on your business’s operating style.
Bonus: Before you begin your next hiring cycle, prepare for successful interviews.