Landing the right job candidate to fill a sales position can be challenging. Here are recruiting tips to keep in mind.
In high-impact positions like sales, the right hire makes the difference between exciting company growth or wasted time and money. There’s perhaps no team more important to the growth of your business than sales. And that’s especially true now. With the light at the end of the tunnel with COVID-19, brands with a strong and well-trained sales team are poised to come out of the pandemic stronger than ever.
Unfortunately, filling a sales position isn’t always easy. Monster’s 2021 Hiring Trends Report notes that sales job postings are growing month over month. That translates to more opportunities available to top talent—and more competition for companies looking to attract them.
But there's good news, too. A well-designed recruitment process puts you on track to hiring a great salesperson, despite the competition. It gives your business a chance to showcase all you have to offer—a dynamic environment, driven team and exciting corporate culture—to truly find the right fit.
Follow these recruitment tips to identify and attract top sales talent.
1. Start with a Sales Audit
Sure, you know you’re looking for a great salesperson. But what does that actually look like at your company? No two sales departments are alike, and you’ll want to take stock of where your team excels and what skills you’ll need in your new hire.
First, look at your top performers. What kind of sales tactics work best for them, and what skills set these team members apart? Do they make a well-rounded team, or do you need to bring new strengths to your salesforce? If your top performers are giving you everything you need, and you just need more of them, use their skills as a compass for how to fill a sales position.
If, on the other hand, you have some metrics you’d like to improve, or new strengths you want to bring to your team, take note of them now. If your team is skilled at upselling and retaining clients, for example, but you’d like to bring in more new accounts, someone who excels at that stage of the sales process might be the best fit.
This is also the time to take note of diversity on your team and identify perspectives that might be missing. Diverse sales teams are shown to better connect with customers, and hiring workers from all walks of life can foster a more creative environment. So recruiting talent that shares your department’s core values while also bringing fresh viewpoints can help your brand grow.
2. Craft a Job Profile for Your Sales Hire
Now you’ve identified what’s working on your team, and what you’re looking for in your new recruit. It’s time to take that information and create a job profile to use internally to identify the best candidates. Here are items to consider including in that outline:
- The job’s key responsibilities. What gaps in your team the new hire will fill, and what their day-to-day job will look like.
- The skills you’re looking for. This includes sales experience, as well as soft skills. What's working for your team right now? The ideal hire will share those skills and potentially add new ones.
- Other attributes that will help the team thrive. Instilling purpose in your hires leads to more engagement and better retention. So consider how ideal applicants should share your brand’s values and align with the company mission to truly engage with your team.
3. Screen Applicants for Success
Even with the growth in open sales positions, you can still anticipate dozens of applications. So keep the job profile in mind as you’re trying to fill your sales position. After you’ve narrowed down the basics, and filtered out applicants without the proper qualifications, look at how candidates sell themselves on their applications.
Pay special attention to candidates with:
- A carefully crafted cover letter. Good salespeople know better than to write a cookie-cutter cover letter, but take note of why they feel they’re a good fit for the position. Language that mirrors your job posting shows they read the job ad. But touching on other aspects of your business, like how they could fit into your company mission, suggests even more interest and engagement.
- Proactive questions. It takes confidence to reach out before an interview. So if a candidate contacts you with a thoughtful question or two to help them prepare, that signals they’re self-assured, engaged and a self-starter—a definite plus for a salesperson.
- A proven sales record that fits your job profile. While it goes without saying that your candidate needs experience, look for evidence of the specific skills you’re looking for. Success in an environment similar to your sales department likely tells you more than sales experience overall.
4. Make Recruitment a Group Effort
Finding the ideal salesperson is both an art and a science, and you don’t need to do it alone. In fact, you should actively include the sales team in the interview process.
The benefits are twofold. Fantastic team chemistry can entice a top salesperson, even if they’re fielding offers from your competitors. It also quickly identifies candidates that, while talented, may not be the best fit for your team. You’ll avoid a mismatch that could negatively impact your sales team and increase turnover.
Consider including team members from other departments, like marketing and customer service, as well. Taking into account different perspectives throughout the company leads to well-rounded interviews that’ll help you find the best match.
5. Delve Deep In the Interview
Most candidates come prepared for standard questions, like a time they overcame an issue to close a sale. So once you’ve asked more general questions—like "how do you approach prospecting?"—go into more detail. Ask questions about where their most recent leads came from and how they qualify leads. And even roleplay to see how they approach real sales calls.
That glimpse of how a candidate works in the field lets you see their true potential, so you can choose the best salesperson to help your company grow.