What positions at a company align more tightly with the bottom line than sales jobs? Not many. Yet, a recent How to Recruit Sales Professionals survey by my company, Glassdoor, indicated that 68 percent of sales professionals planned to look for a job this year. That’s a huge chunk of the talent pool desiring to make a move.
When recruiting sales professionals, keep the following tips in mind:
1. Recruit salespeople on an ongoing basis. In the above Glassdoor survey, conducted in May and June, sales professionals indicated that the top reasons they leave a job are related to salary and compensation, career-growth opportunities and a company's culture.
Don’t wait until top salespeople leave to hurriedly hire their replacements. Otherwise, those hired might be merely be the talent available rather than individuals who are truly a great fit for the organization.
Develop a system to attract sales talent on an ongoing basis. That means building a careers website that promotes the company's culture and rewards and explains the type of staff being sought. It also never hurts to link to a job site offering authentic reviews of the company (as Glassdoor provides).
When individuals express an interest in working for the firm, ask for their sales results in past positions and their stories about winning tough accounts. Read through the resumes that arrive (even if there's no immediate hiring need) and keep a file on the apparent high achievers that would fit in well at the company. Sometimes when a true diamond in the rough surfaces, simply creating a position for that person proves worthwhile.
2. Offer referral incentives. Develop an incentive program for current staff members to refer contacts who might be the next sales stars. The people already working at a company are often the best ones to judge who might best fit into its culture.
And the promise of a cash reward for referring a person hired successfully will ensure that staff members will serve as active recruiters. At my company, referrals are No. 1 source of great hires. Candidates found this way tend to stay the longest and report higher workplace satisfaction.
3. Write a detailed job description. Not all sales positions are created equal. Someone may be needed to sell luxury goods to individual consumers or the hire might be targeted for marketing special equipment to large commercial customers.
Different types of selling require different skills and characteristics, so develop a detailed job description and be sure the recruiting team and other employees have access to it.
4. Use sales assessments. Successful salespeople often share many of the same specific traits and characteristics. During the interviewing process, consider requiring applicants to take a sales assessment or test that can quantify a candidate's demonstration of the characteristics sought. Some aptitude tests used for salespeople include TriMetrix and the Profiles Sales Assessment.
5. Offer paid training. Devise an offer so that if the company's sales positions are commission-only jobs, new hires can gradually work their way toward earning a livable salary. The package should include a paid training period and, if possible, a generous base salary for the first six months or year. Salespeople will be able to perform better if they're not worried about paying their bills and can focus on serving the company's customers and developing relationships with new prospects.
Glassdoor recently found a gender discrepancy among sales professionals in what they value in a compensation package. Women in sales report prioritizing health care benefits and company perks above the commission, which is the second most valued element among their male counterparts.