Sure, technology can help heat up your metrics, but only talent can sell your brand like hotcakes. In the ever-shifting market, talent spells the difference between sales organizations that are well-positioned to win the future and those that struggle just to survive the challenges of the present.
As customer centricity, account-based selling, and artificial intelligence redraw the contours of business, talent will become more crucial to keeping pipelines full, flowing, and fruitful. If your organization lacks the will to attract, recruit, and retain excellent sales professionals, then you are just exerting futile efforts at postponing failure to a later date.
After all, only sales professionals with the right skills and mindset can drive meaningful conversations with prospects and orchestrate the outcomes customers expect. Today’s consumers — especially in the B2B space — are empowered buyers looking for trustworthy consultants who can help them achieve success. They are not keen on taking cold calls from desperate sellers who primarily engage people just to make a sale and meet quotas.
Now more than ever, business organizations need buyer-focused sales professionals who possess the character and the competencies to deliver high value to both the customers they serve and the companies they work for.
In a highly competitive talent market, the process of finding, hiring, and keeping these high-performing sellers can be quite challenging.
Forward-looking enterprises with ample war chests implement aggressive recruitment and retention strategies for top sales talent. These enterprises already deploy many excellent professionals on their sales floor. Given the emerging business realities, these highly competitive companies simply couldn’t afford not to.
For one thing, businesses improve profitability by as much as 30% when they hire top-notch candidates, according to a Gallup poll. In the B2B space, moreover, corporate clients have nearly unlimited access to information about alternative products, and virtually nothing prevents them from brand-hopping at will. If your sellers lack the skills at building effective solutions and at keeping these solutions relevant throughout the customer lifecycle, then closing deals and reducing customer churn will both be very difficult. Which, as you well know, leads to diluted revenue, profit margins, and morale.
Hiring anyone just to fill the vacuum wouldn’t do, either. In fact, poor hires cost a lot more in direct and collateral damage than not hiring in the first place. A bad hire causes your team to lose a substantial amount of time, money, and energy, with some estimates placing financial loss at hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars per year just for one bad hiring decision.
Meanwhile, the challenges of selling as a field also cause most people to shun sales as a career option, even compelling a significant number of practitioners to shift their line of work. Either effect further trims the number of competent sales professionals in the market.
If your organization plans to recruit the best sellers, there are a few places you would want to check out.
Your social and professional network covers your family and friends as well as acquaintances from grade school, the fitness club, and the workplace. Your network will likely include a number of competent sales practitioners, professionals who enjoy working with people, or individuals who are good at articulating value and convincing others to view things from a particular perspective. You can reach out to these people and probe whether some are open to working in a sales organization with you.
If gleaning potential sales superstars from your network doesn’t work as planned, you can always request for referrals. Just like you, your friend or acquaintance knows somebody who works as a high-flying real estate agent or someone who has an uncanny ability at persuading people. Unless you have other options with higher odds of success, referred candidates would be worth checking out.
Industry events such as seminars, trade shows, workshops, and conferences are premium opportunities for relationship building. They’re also great for sniffing out and assessing potential hires.
The planet’s largest professional network is perhaps the best place to build a shortlist of potential sales hires. The site’s powerful search functions can help you find qualified (but often presently employed) sellers in your particular market niche. You can also post job ads and reach thousands of professionals who meet your standards and qualifications.
If you need an entire brigade to fill your sales floor, then you can go beyond LinkedIn to other social media networks such as Facebook, Instagram, SnapChat, and Quora. Hundreds of millions of people visit these networks regularly to communicate their message and join conversations that matter to them.
Leverage the good relationships you’ve built at your alma mater. For open internships at your sales organization, your old campus may just be the hunting ground you need. Go beyond your college to other academic institutions in the area if you need to create a larger talent pool.
Job sites such as Monster, Glassdoor, and Indeed.com provide the online interfaces that connect recruiters with job applicants. Like LinkedIn and specialist career marketplaces, job recruiting sites offer the best success rates for your staffing needs.
Online career marketplaces such as Rainmakers attract the best employers and the top practitioners in a specific field. When these parties meet, excellence happens.
Staffing your sales organization can take the offline or online route, or both. Depending on the situation, you can get the best of online and offline recruitment to benefit the final makeup of your sales team. So, make the best of in-person meet-ups during events and conferences. But don’t forget to put your best foot forward when hunting for talent online.
Sales recruitment is not only a challenging task, but one whose impact can create a powerful chain reaction far down the road. If you’ve hired the right people, then expect positive outcomes to pop up here and there. But if you enable bad candidates to come on board, the damage in terms of time, money, and morale can be devastating. Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh once claimed that bad hires cost the company $100 million.
So take sales recruitment seriously. Hire specifically for the task you need done but never discount character and motivation. Technical skills should always go hand-on-hand with attitude. For experienced roles, consider the candidate’s professional selling history, relevant training, and certifications.
Don’t settle for less. Do your homework as a diligent recruiter and the rest will follow. Remember, nothing else can move your business further than highly motivated talent.