The Shocking Truth about Sales Recruiting

5 Reasons Why You're Not Recruiting Better Sales Talent

Are you recruiting top software sales talent and running into roadblocks? You’re not alone. The sales function appears to be an easy role to recruit for on the outset.

Yet recruiting sales talent is one of the more difficult and time-consuming recruitment jobs around.

What separates sales recruiting from other functions? Consider these five factors before launching your next sales recruitment search:

1. Top salespeople are always in high-demand.

People who have a track record of sales success are vaunted. As an employer, when competing for the top 20%, you’ll have to contend with stronger brands, generous compensation packages, and high-growth opportunities.  

2. The sales talent pool is always in flux.

Unlike other professions, salespeople aren’t in the same role for their entire careers. They move into other sales jobs, functions, exit the profession, or open their own businesses.  

Moreover, exceptionally talented professionals move into leadership roles after two to five high-performing years.

3. It isn’t always easy to tell who’ll be your next top performer.

Some top reps have terrible LinkedIn profiles, resumes with typos, and frankly don’t interview well. Although they may have some skill deficiencies, they excel in the field with prospects and are consistently bringing in new clients.

On the other hand, some of the worst performing reps have professional LinkedIn photos, polished resumes that lack typos, and interview better than Barbara Walters.

They appear to have the right skills to win new clients, but lack the drive, motivation, or consistency to succeed in the role.  

4. Emotions and collective decision making dictate the hiring decision.

It can be hard to temper emotion with logic when hiring sales professionals. Unlike other professions, there isn’t a “best way” handed down over the years to evaluate who’s a perfect fit.

This can lead to hiring based on factors that don’t boost the chances of making successful sales hires.

For example, let’s look at the accounting function. It’s generally agreed that the best accountants graduate four year universities with strong marks and degrees in accounting. They immediately secure jobs with The Big 4 and get to work on passing their CPA exams.

After a few years of The Big 4 lifestyle (no sleep, heavy travel, and working 70+ hour weeks) they decide it’s time to go to work for one of their top clients. An industry specialization is developed, and a successful corporate accounting career begins.

Clear cut, straightforward and rather predictable.

If you need to hire a first-string accountant, you’ll look for this profile, along with a few years of experience in your industry. And you’ll be rewarded for your recruitment efforts with a 97% hiring success rate. Why?

It’s a proven profile.

It’s been used for more than twenty years to help the majority of the world’s most admired companies and the Fortune 500 hire top-notch accountants.

Unfortunately, making your best sales hires won’t be so cut and dry.

A top salesperson’s career path isn’t linear and predictable.

Chances are, you won’t have a proven candidate profile that drastically increases the odds of sales hiring nirvana.

This makes hiring for the sales department risky, daunting, and challenging.

5. Where one salesperson thrives, another fails miserably.

Some sales professionals are exceptional if plugged into the right environment. Others will survive and thrive no matter where they go.

Give some serious thought to your sales culture, sales cycle, support, executive leadership, solutions, clients, and compensation plans. How do they align with the candidates you’re looking to hire?

And remember, hiring the perfect salesperson can’t be boiled down to a simple formula.

One size does not fit all.

Humans are complex and hiring the top sales reps can’t be summarized by composite mathematical formulas. Sales hiring is one of the most difficult challenges a growing company will take on.

There are many variables that need to be accounted for when hiring the right salespeople.

And most likely you’ll need to lean heavily on sales recruitment experience and industry domain expertise.