butterfly of sales recruitment

How to get sales recruitment right

How to create an effective recruitment process to bring a new salesperson into your business.

Be certain what kind of salesperson you want. There are different types, and they require a different mix of skills and attributes. You can read more about this in our March blog – ‘How do I recruit the right salesperson?

Define the attributes you need this new salesperson to have.

Using the job description for your sales role, identify the attributes a successful salesperson needs to possess in order to succeed. Some may be about specific experience and knowledge. Others may be about their personal attributes. Perhaps a particular level of resilience or interpersonal skill that the role demands. You’ll definitely need someone motivated by achieving results!

Be really clear about what are your ‘must-haves’ for your salesperson role and what are your ‘nice-to-haves’.

Also be clear about what you don’t want. What are the red flags for you that signal the person isn’t suitable – for your clients, for your business culture or for your team?

Knowing when to say no thank you is as crucial as being able to recognise real talent when it walks through your door or pops up on Zoom. If you are creating a sales team that values high levels of collaboration, or you have long-term client relationships predicated on trust, then an answer that indicates the result matters regardless of the body-count, should make you stop and think twice about cultural fit and appropriateness.

But only if you’ve thought about this before you begin the interviews.

Do your research.

Check out recruitment sites and look at how jobs are described, titled and renumerated. It’s tempting to give a job a fancy title, but if that title attracts the wrong people, or folks you’d love to have but know you can’t afford, then you’re wasting everyone’s time and risking the reputation of your business too.

Explore. There are the well-known and obvious job sites such as Indeed. There are also sites that are far more niche or focussed upon a certain demographic or sector. If you look beyond the obvious, it’s likely you’ll not only pick up great ideas for how to shape your advert, but also come away with a broader view of where you might find the sales talent you’re searching for.

For example, there are thousands of extraordinarily talented women out there. Well-trained, vastly talented, flexible, creative with inquisitive minds. Highly successful salespeople who just happen to be mums too. Often returning to work after maternity leave. If you’re able to shape the role to accommodate flexible working hours or geography, it’s likely you’ll gain immeasurably from the expertise you acquire.

Plan your recruitment process before you run the advert.

How do you plan to recruit? Are you going to test for aptitude or numerical skills as part of the recruitment, and how will you do this? How many rounds of interviews or presentations or assessment are you going to use? What are you testing or searching for in each one, and who’s going to do it all?

You can use an agency which will cost you hefty fees but will take the strain out of filtering and reviewing candidates. Choose your recruitment agency with care. They are not all equal – either in the talent they will put in front of you – nor in the way in which they represent themselves or your business.

You can do it yourself. It’s more effort; it takes patience; but assuming you get it right – it will cost you less than using a recruiter. It allows you to personalise the experience your candidates have of you and your business. It helps you stand out from the crowd. But you will have to trawl through more CVs and resign yourself to some smash-and-grab applications, when you’ll shake your head in disbelief and wonder.

You can also work with a sales coach who knows how to recruit and can take all or much of the strain away from you. This offers a blend of the first two options.

Write the right advert.

Not just a copy and paste, but something that sells you, your business and the role you’re recruiting for. Tell your own story and explain how this sales role fits within your business and what the key elements of the role are. Think about your company values and culture and reflect this within your advert.

Write it. Put it down and then go back with fresh eyes and interrogate it anew. Is what you’ve created going to attract all relevant talent or accidentally freeze out some because of your wording or how you want the job done?

If you shaped the role or worded the advert differently, could you tap into sources of talent that would offer you greater diversity or deeper expertise? Both make a significant difference to how successful businesses are.

CVs are not fortune cookies!

They are closer to the warnings printed in tiny writing at the bottom of investment adverts. “Our past performance is no indication of your future returns. You may get out less than you paid in” Hum.

There is virtually zero correlation between what’s in a candidate’s CV and their likely success working for you. Don’t waste your time or theirs by shaping an interview that is no more than a gentle jog back through their history.

Competency or attitudinal-based interviews will give you a far greater indication of capability and how they might fit within your business. Planned and well-executed consistently across all of your candidates, you have a significantly greater chance of finding the right candidate and making the best decision.

CVs can provide some indication of these. A CV that lists job responsibilities but lacks any indication of the sales results actually achieved or the sales targets associated with previous roles, may be an indication that a candidate isn’t as results orientated as you might need them to be. Or it might just be that they aren’t well versed in CV-writing.

A poorly constructed CV with errors littered across it may well be an indication of how much that candidate pays attention to details or is concerned for the quality of materials they create. If the role you’re recruiting for involves the creation and submission of proposals to your clients; this will matter.

Don’t be tempted to settle for the best of a bad bunch. ‘Warm and vertical’ aren’t criteria for a good recruitment. Re-visit your ad and where it was posted and be prepared to begin again. Yes, it will take more of your time and more of your money. But nowhere near as much as it will having to deal with a poor recruitment that actually joins your business. The fallout will be much more costly.

Remember to enjoy it.

You’re recruiting because you’re growing or enhancing the sales capability in your business. It’s something to be celebrated.

If you feel anything other than energised and excited by recruiting a salesperson, consider getting help to ensure you make the best decision possible for your business.

What next you ask? Take a look at our how to be an effective sales manager or the articles we post on LinkedIn.