7 Things About Sales Recruitment Most CEOs Don't Know

by Cheryl Powers

Sales hiring.

How hard can it be?

We just need them to sell, right?

Yet, recruiting high performing salespeople and sales leaders is one of the most difficult tasks a CEO will ever have to get right -- and keep right to stay successful.

There is much more to it than posting the ad, sifting through resumes, and hoping you picked the right one. The vast majority of ads are poorly worded, focus more on the company than on the role, and fail to attract qualified candidates.

People lie on resumes, your resume readers all read for different things (and they're usually the wrong things), and hope is simply not a strategy you can hang your hat on.

And don't think that placement firm is doing you any favors either. Their job is to sell you candidates.

There are things that you as a CEO or company president must know before you put your team through another failed sales recruitment initiative. Here are 7 to get you started.

Recruiting Salespeople is different

Sales Recruiting is different from every other recruitment function in your company. Most CEOs follow the same methodology and process to hire salespeople that they use to hire every other function in the company. This doesn't work because the sales function works completely differently from every other function of your business. Salespeople are different and you need to adjust your recruitment process accordingly to hire the candidates who not only can sell but will sell for your company - - to your ideal prospects, under your market conditions, at your price point, against your competition, within your ideal sales cycle, and within your business culture.

You have to know how to attract the right candidates

Attracting ideal sales candidates requires a keen understanding of your business drivers, your customers, the complexity and size of your sale, and your compensation model. It also means finding candidates who have the ability to learn your business quickly and who already possess the sales skills and competencies you need them to have to be successful. And ideally without the weaknesses which prevent them from leveraging their skill. No sense in hiring a marksman who's afraid to shoot a gun.


You have to know how to interview them 

Effectively interviewing sales candidates takes practice. Most salespeople are better at interviewing than the people who are hiring them. Salespeople are typically good at building rapport and keeping the conversation moving, which unfortunately creates the impression that they will have the ability to sell your products and services.You need an interview process that legal and puts the salesperson through their paces. And you should have a screening process that weeds out the unqualified candidates so you aren't wasting time with people who can't cut it. Ideally you will use a customized assessment which matched the candidate to your real world sales and cultural needs and that screens for skills, competencies, sales DNA, and hidden weaknesses that neutralize the skills.

You have to know how to compensate them

The compensation must fit the job and the person you hire must fit the compensation model. Should you offer mostly salary with a bonus for hitting certain targets? Should you offer mostly commission with a small salary? Should you offer straight commission? Straight salary? Getting compensation right will not only affect your success in hiring the right candidate but will also impact sales targets and longevity. It's much more costly to mess this up than it is to spend the time analyzing your perfect model.

You have to know how to develop them

Even the most elite salespeople need to be developed. In fact, the best of the best candidates expect to be groomed for mastery. Knowing exactly where to focus your development efforts, what weaknesses need to be addressed, and how to best train and coach a salesperson is critical to your recruitment efforts. One size fits all type training and development programs work about as well as trying to fit each person on the team with the same eyeglass prescription. It's a waste of money and you might do more harm than good. You must map their development plan to their needs and yours. Most companies get this wrong. You need to get it right.

You have to know how to motivate them

Great candidates will have the desire to win and the commitment to do whatever it takes to get there. You need to make sure yours do. But beyond that, everyone is motivated by something inside or something outside and you need to know exactly how each of your salespeople is wired. Otherwise, you'll be confused about why your incentive program isn't working and you will likely place blame the wrong place.

You have to know how to manage them

This is a big one. Four (4) out of five (5) Sales Managers are ineffective. One (1) in four (4) should not be in Sales Management. One (1) in three (3) cannot be trained or coached up to par. And only one (1) in fifteen (15) qualify as Elite Sales Managers. (This information is from a study of over 750,000 sales and sales management candidates from over 10,000 companies in multiple industries.)*

Most people in sales management roles have not learned how to coach salespeople and, therefore, spend no time doing it. Most sales managers spend more time selling in the gaps than they do managing and accelerating the performance of their team. The lesson here is that recruiting effective sales management is a precursor to recruiting a high performing sales team.

And here's a bonus

You have to have a recruitment process that works and you have to stick to the process. We teach a sales recruitment process that, when followed by clients, yields a 96% success rate. Most of what we teach CEOs and executives becomes uncommon sense after you do it for awhile, yet it can be hard for CEOs and their CHROs to let go of their old ways. The good news is, when they embrace the process and refuse to do it the old way miracles happen.

They will for you, too. You will consistently hire stronger salespeople and sales leaders who sell more, sell faster, sell value, hold margin, and stick around to celebrate.

Ready to have more of  what it takes to recruit top sales candidates? Join me for our next webinar on sales recruitment best practices.

© Copyright 2019 Cheryl Powers, Align Strategic All Rights Reserved

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