Sales Recruiters, Let Go of Recruits Who Will Never Join Your Sales Team

Sales Recruiters, Save your Sanity and Stop Chasing Salespeople who Aren’t the Right Fit for Your Company

If you’ve ever met an overly optimistic person, you’ve learned firsthand how optimism can murder your time and wreak havoc on your life. Although it seems wrong, there’s a dark side to optimism when it comes to sales recruiting. Sales recruiters who are endlessly optimistic will waste too much time on the wrong sales candidates.

Furthermore, good sales recruiters know there are simply some candidates who aren’t worth pursuing. Sure, they may look great on paper, have many of the right characteristics, and make your hiring manager giddy with excitement. But you have to trust your instincts, that little voice in your head that says, “this is a long-shot,” should be heeded.

Additionally, sales recruiters who are driven by emotion—which is all of us at different times—will take shots at recruiting salespeople who will absolutely never join the team. This could be due to pressure, a limited supply of skilled candidates, or lack of time.

sales recruiters clouded judgement.jpg

Impatience can cloud your judgment and cause miscalculations.

Clouded judgment negatively impacts situational awareness and finds a way to flub up the process. It’s not always easy to see how some candidates will never join the sales team. In fact, they will absorb endless hours of time only to result in non-hires.

Months will pass filled with interviews, calls, and meetings that lead to nowhere, which is every sales recruiters worst nightmare.

Unfortunately, many of these misses are predictable.

Sales recruiters Should avoid “almost-a-fit” candidates

Generally speaking, tightly qualifying candidates on the front-end will save time and prevent job offer turn downs. Sure, it’s normal and necessary to swing for the fences occasionally, but prioritize high-probability, high-match sales candidates.

sales recruiter recruiting strong fit.jpg

Recruit salespeople who see your opportunity as a strong potential fit.

Sales Recruiters Make the Match and Recruit Best Fit Candidates

If you don’t know who might see your sales opening as a great opportunity, strategize with your hiring managers, and by all means, mine them for target companies. Also, consider recruiting out of companies that have a reputation for being difficult employers. Find out which organizations are facing financial or implementation challenges.

Additionally, are there sales leaders who’ve recently left behind high-performing teams? These employees are certainly targets for potential recruits.

If you have to work too hard to convince your new recruit that your company is outstanding, you may have better options elsewhere. Moreover, sales candidates who need endless persuading won’t have the motivation to accept an offer and make it through the counteroffer process.  

Sales recruiters need to know when to cut their losses. Although it’s painful to stop chasing someone you’ve worked hard to recruit; you’ll need to exit these situations as early as possible and restart the process with another candidate.

sales recruiter matching.jpg

Sales recruiting is about Knowing Which Game Your Playing

Altogether, sales recruiting is a game of Go-Fish, not poker. If the match is there, it will reveal itself, and things will become relatively “easy.” Strong emphasis on relatively. But, if you find yourself bluffing, putting all your hope into the next move, or you keep going bust, you’re playing poker.

Qualifying candidates happens in the first interview and throughout the sales recruiting process; with this in mind, if at any point things start to go awry, it’s best to reevaluate the match. Remember, as a strong sales recruiter, you can disengage at any time during the interview process.

sales recruiter lighting fire to resume.jpg

Letting go is hard to do when sunken time costs are high, but essential even during the final interview stages.

Letting Go Is Hard for Sales Recruiters

Sure, it’s harder to do when you’ve already invested six weeks in the search. But the job of a good sales recruiter is to determine if there is a high-potential fit for the company and the employee. Hence, if the fit isn’t there, it’s best to keep recruiting.

How Do You Test Candidate Engagement?

Some people will tell you to listen to what the candidate wants, while others will advise you to pay close attention to the words they use. In fact, it’s a good idea to do both of those things.

But after thousands of interviews, the most reliable way to predict candidate engagement is to observe and note behavior. Without a doubt, give the most weight to the candidates’ behavior, not the words they choose.

sales recruter behaviour never lies.jpg

Behavior never lies.

The #1 Rule for Sales Recruiters

A candidate’s behavior speaks louder than their words. When the words don’t match the candidates' actions, always prioritize your focus on the candidates’ behavior.

Sales Recruiter and Sales Candidate Conversation

Sales Recruiter: “Do you think you’ll be accepting this offer at BestCompany? The letter says you have 48 hours.”

Sales Candidate: “Yes, I’m excited about it. I just don’t make quick decisions. I think it’s only fair that I have a week to evaluate the offer.”

Sales Recruiter: “That’s probably not going to happen. What else you have going on? You said you don’t have another offer, so I’m assuming you’re getting to a final interview with RocketShip Startup?”

Sales Candidate: “Yes, I have a final tomorrow. But I do like BestCompany. I just want to make sure I’m not selling myself short.”

Sales Recruiter: “Okay. Let’s say RocketShip comes with an offer for the same amount. Which position would you take?”

Sales Candidate: “Not sure. I’d need to really think about that.”

Sales Recruiter: “How long have you been interviewing with them?”

Sales Candidate: “Four weeks. I’ve met with everyone, including the CEO. I just have to interview with the Director of Product Marketing.”

Sales Recruiter: “If we can’t get you the extra week will you be turning us down? I’m not sure you’ll get it.”

Sales Candidate: “I’m really interested and think BestCompany is an innovative company. You guys are doing a lot of the right things over there. I think if you really want to hire me, you’ll give me more time. This is a very tough decision for me, but once I commit, I don’t look back. I think it’s only fair that I get the time I need. But, if you can’t, I don’t know what I’ll do.”

“Hopeful” Sales Recruiter Goes Through These Thoughts after the call ends

I must get more time for this candidate; we should be able to get more time. It’s only fair to have the time you need to make a decision. Maybe I can figure out a way to get a superb offer for Superstar, maybe I can beat the other company.

sales recruiter mistakes.jpg
The "Hopeful" Sales Recruiter Makes These Critical Mistakes:

#1. Ignores the fact that this person has been interviewing for FOUR weeks with the other company. They already know how they feel. They have met the CEO; they know what they think about the company.

2. The old fairness factor has emerged and is being used to cloud judgment. Being told what "fair is"--is a negotiating tactic. No one likes to think they are being unfair or being mistreated.

Of course, we all feel entitled to fairness. Chris Voss, a key FBI negotiator mentions in his book Never Split the Difference that the F-word is used to exploit the other side and gain concessions:

“When your counterpart drops the F-bomb, don’t get suckered into concession. Instead, ask them to explain how you’re mistreating them.”

sales recruiters meeting candidate.jpg

This is how an experienced sales recruiter might handle the situation

“Experienced” Sales Recruiter: Sounds like our superstar is holding out for BestCompany. Okay, got it. Superstar might be use our opportunity as leverage with the other company.

Of course, Superstar is smart, so we expect this, but we still don’t like it.

Behavior says this superstar is leaning towards the other company. Who else do I have that might be a good fit for this role? Immediately, I need to alert the hiring manager because this isn’t looking good. Let’s keep this recruiting process going, we can’t stop the search and put all our hope into this candidate coming on board.

Let’s assign this deal a numerical rating, to make things easier, and to help remove emotions from the situation. Since this deal has less than a 50% chance of happening, let’s rate it a 5 out of 10.

On the positive side, everyone on the team knows a 5 means it’s time to move on; there’s something about seeing a number that helps formalize the reality of the situation in everyone’s mind.

Unquestionably, assigning a low number helps dissolve hope, minimizes emotions, and gets everyone moving towards other possibilities.

sales recruiter gets it right.jpg

"Experienced" Sales Recruiter Gets It Right


1. On the whole, examine what the candidate has not done:
  • The offer hasn't been accepted.
  • They haven’t said they would accept the offer.
  • No requests have been made for anything except time.
  • Not one word has been said about negotiating the offer.
2. In fact, candidates who accept offers usually say, "BestCompany is my #1 choice." Even if they don't take the offer unless they get more money, more vacation time, a delayed start date, etc.., they will usually state that BestCompany is their top choice.

Naturally, everyone else the candidate is interviewing with receives delay tactics and hedges. BackUp Company is told what a difficult decision this is to make, how more time and consideration are needed before a final decision is made.

3. Equally important, a number is assigned to the likelihood of a positive outcome which helps qualtify the reality of the situation. In addition, "Experienced" Sales Recruiter immediately alerts the hiring manager because the probability of offer acceptance has dropped to 50%.

4. Furthermore, the sales recruiter continues recruiting and promptly gets back to working on the search. This is easier to do because the sales recruiter doesn’t drain their energy by hanging on to superstar until the fatal end. They move on and refocus their energy on starting more conversations with other potential recruits.

Strong Sales Recruiters Keep Filling the Talent Pipeline

“Hopeful” Sales Recruiter keeps wasting time and emotional energy by hanging on to the candidate’s every move. “Hopeful” sales recruiter does a lot of waiting for something to happen, which can lead to burnout.

On the other hand, “Experienced” Sales Recruiter continues to recruit more A-players into the talent pipeline. They immediately make the call to the hiring manager, letting them know this deal is as good as dead.

Although bad news, the call gives the hiring manager time to let go of the idea that Superstar will be joining the team.

The sooner the hiring manager understands Superstar isn’t coming on board, the sooner they can start focusing on other candidates.

Notably, regular updates keep the interview process moving forward until a winning candidate is hired. After all, multiple people are involved in any process, sales recruiters should expect plenty of setbacks, it’s how fast you can move on from them that help you recruit that winning candidate.


Sales Recruiters interview a sales candiate in waiting room.jpg

Questions to Consider During the Interview Process

  • How long does it take a candidate to get back to you about scheduling an interview?

  • Do they keep interviews, or do they frequently reschedule?

  • Are they invested in the interview process? For example, have they prepared a presentation or presented a 30-60-90 day action plan?

  • Are they enthusiastic about moving to the next step in the process?

  • Measure your new recruit's behavior to the ideal engaged candidate’s actions. If you find a big gap, it’s time to let go.

sales recruiters letting go.jpg

Sales Recruiters Should Know When to Move On

In brief, sales recruiters who learn to let go of candidates who aren’t responding will save loads of time. This time can be used to recruit candidates who are serious about your company and the position; besides, the more time you spend with uninterested candidates, the longer the search will take.

Also, if you’re behind the eight ball, call or email the sales recruiters at Optimal Sales Search. Let’s talk about your situation and find out if we’re the right partner to help you fill your most challenging sales positions.