A 7 Step Guide to Consistently Recruiting Great Salespeople

November 18, 2015

What’s a business without sales?

Not a business for much longer. Truth is, no matter how great your product is, if you don’t have people who can go out and sell it, you don’t have a company. And we’ve all seen the value of a great salesperson who can bring in millions of dollars for your company alone and catapult your organization to the next level.

The hard part is finding those people. The best salespeople almost invariably already have a great job, are already making a great salary and don’t make a habit out of applying for a position on a company’s career site.

Recruiting them takes a sustained, full-funnel strategy that includes everything from a great employer brand to a great closing offer. Here’s that strategy, outlined in seven steps:

1. It starts with knowing your market

The first part of getting great salespeople is understanding great salespeople. Where are they located? What do they want? Where do they work? What groups are they associated with?

Luckily for you, you can find all the information in LinkedIn’s talent pool reports. These reports will show you the best places to look for salespeople, what companies they work for and even survey data for what they are looking for in a job.

For example, let’s say you are looking for retail salespeople in the United States. The talent pool report will show where in the United States there is a shortage of strong sales talent (aka a bad place to recruit) and where there is a surplus of strong sales talent (aka a good place to recruit).

  • talent supply by region

As you can see, San Francisco and New York both have more demand for salespeople than they have salespeople to fill them, which means it will be a very competitive market. Conversely, Los Angeles and Atlanta both have less demand for salespeople and a lot of sales professionals, so they are better places to look.

Going beyond that, the talent pool reports will also show who the biggest employers of salespeople are in the area you’re looking at and what LinkedIn Groups they are a part of. They’ll even tell you what salespeople want in their jobs, based off of LinkedIn survey data.

As you can see, for the example of salespeople in the United States, primarily that talent is looking for excellent compensation and work/life balance.

  • what talent wants

2. And then building out your employer brand

Once you know where you want to recruit and what your talent is looking for, you can start building out your employer brand to find those people.

How do you that? Best way is to master your own internal recruiting communications: optimizing your career page, writing great job descriptions and, most importantly, creating great content and sharing it on social media so talent starts following you.

If you want to go further, you can focus your employer branding through targeted sponsored updates and do boots-on-the-ground recruiting in the exact areas you’re looking for great talent.

All of this will start bringing tech talent closer to your doorstep. One fact that illustrates the point – 70 percent of the people who follow a company on LinkedIn said they would consider working for that company.

3. Once you have your targets, it’s time to write great personalized InMails

So say you know you want to target retail salespeople in Los Angeles and, through your employer branding efforts, have gained a few followers in the area. What’s the next step?

The InMail, which is one of the most common ways recruiters first reach out to prospects. 

The key here? Make it personalized and centered around the needs of the candidate, not yours. For specifics, here are four examples of great InMails (and eight examples of terrible ones).

4. Use the interview to determine great salespeople from good ones

Alright, so your InMails are successful and you’ve set up interviews with a few salespeople. The interview is your chance to find out if these people are truly right for your company.

To do this best, science suggests a structured interview process that includes a work sample - perhaps have them pitch your product. As far what to do in that interview, here’s some advice on what questions to ask a sales candidate and here are five great questions to ask any candidate.

5. But remember, candidates are interviewing you in the interview as well

With highly sought after talent like salespeople, chances are they’ll be talking with multiple companies when looking for a new job. And the interview, as our stats show, is one of the key ways they’ll determine if they want to work for your company or someone else.

  • interview experience

So how do you create a great interview process? When surveyed, professionals said the interview with the hiring manager has the biggest impact on their interview experience, so train your hiring managers to make candidates feel as comfortable as possible.

Additionally, 49 percent of professionals surveyed said the most important thing to them during the interview is getting all their business questions answered, so be sure to clearly explain to candidates the functions and goals of the advertised position.

6. Close your candidate by selling the future

Let’s say the interview goes great and you want to give the candidate an offer. Be prepared to pay here, as more than 70 percent of professionals receive more money when changing jobs.

That said, the number-one reason people take a new job isn’t money, but career opportunity. So, yes, you’ll probably have to pay the candidate more money to take your offer. But more than that, you should also lay out a plan for them on how they can move up within your organization in the position and continue to advance their career.

7. Once you close a candidate, ask them if they know anyone else

The best source of hire is referrals, as it's both the least expensive and has the highest quality-of-hire. So, as you start hiring salespeople, the best way to continue that growth is asking those people if they know anyone else in their network that would be good for your company.

A few things to keep in mind when building your referral program: For a referral bonus, experiences work better than straight cash; and the real key to a robust referral program is marketing it well internally. 

Tying it all together

Great salespeople always have been in high-demand by companies and probably always will be in high-demand by companies. They never have trouble finding a job, and for that reason they are exceptionally difficult to recruit.

To pull it off, you can’t do just one of the seven things mentioned above well. You have to do all seven well. Hopefully, the advice provided here help you accomplish exactly that, and you can start bringing in that game-changing sales talent to your company.

*Image by Chez Pitch

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