So, you’re looking to hire a new sales rep? That’s great news! Unfortunately, with this incredibly tight labor market, finding qualified talent—particularly in sales—is a significant challenge.
Hiring salespeople can be tricky. If you’re planning on hiring a new sales executive in 2020, avoid these five mistakes:
1) Start fresh. All too often, employers reuse an old job post, stick it on Indeed or LinkedIn and wait for the resumes to come in. That’s not going to work. Today’s market means that talent has a choice of job options and they’ll know if your offer is old and tired.
Instead, try to think strategically about what you truly need—today and tomorrow. Assess what you will need in the future because the right hire can take you there. Most importantly, make sure your posting communicates that strategic vision. The goal of the posting is to make potential talent excited about the opportunity.
When developing your job posting, make sure it:
- Captures the true interpersonal qualities you are looking for.
- Is creative and catchy. Remember, you’re not the only company recruiting, so make sure your post stands out.
- Quantifies the responsibilities and requirements of the job. Don’t make candidates guess what you’re looking for.
2) Stop recruiting and start marketing. You will need to post your position online. But if that’s all you do, you’ll be lucky to find what you’re looking for.
With unemployment at historic lows, most of the talent is currently employed. That means you need to find them and convince them that your opportunity is worth checking out.
Start mining your connections, both personal and professional. Get your employees, clients and friends in on your search. Have your marketing pitch ready for those who express interest in your position. You’re looking to hire sales professionals, so you need to be able to sell them on your opportunity.
Cast a wide net. When it comes to recruiting, you must be willing to put a little elbow grease into your search.
3) Don’t go with your gut. Your gastrointestinal tract is not the best tool for making a hiring decision, particularly when hiring a salesperson who is skilled at persuasion. Make a hiring decision based on the one-third rule: one-third on experience, one-third on the interview and one-third on behavioral testing.
Behavioral testing can provide you with more data to evaluate candidates, including insights into their behaviors, motivators and values. How a candidate performs in a personal interview really is only an indication of one thing: their skill at interviewing. Remember, they are salespeople—they are trying to sell you too.
4) Be ready for sticker shock. It’s a talent-friendly market. Our recruiters find that if a candidate is actively searching, they typically have multiple offers on the table. You must be ready and able to take decisive action on hiring.
Qualified talent in the market today are expecting 15-20% more compensation than they did in recent years. Here’s a sample of recent trends in recruiting efforts:
- Entry-level Sales: $60,000 base, plus commission
- Mid-level CSR: $60,000
- Mid-level HR: $80,000
- Experienced Sales: $130,000 base, plus commission
Candidates ask for that much because they can get it—if not with you, then with your competitor.
If you want to know how much you’ll need to pay qualified talent, your candidates will tell you—and that’s the best indication of what the going market rate is for a vacancy.
5) Stop looking for unicorns. Recruiters never want clients to settle for inadequate talent. But sometimes, their bullseye for “perfect” talent is impossible to fill. Looking for someone with years of experience, willing to take $35,000 annually and living within 30 miles of your location? Chances are that person doesn’t exist.
If a solid workhorse will do, stop looking for unicorns. Here are the types of difficult conversations recruiters often have with clients:
- “Your pay is too low for the experience you’re looking for.”
- “If you can’t afford experienced talent, you may need to consider hiring someone with less experience.”
- “If there are only a handful of people within 100 miles of your company and none of them are interested in your position, you may need to consider remote workers.”
No one likes to have these conversations, but after screening hundreds of potential candidates without unearthing a unicorn, it’s unlikely that any will miraculously appear.
Ever made one of these mistakes? If so, now’s a perfect time to correct, redirect and start again.
Claudia St. John is president of Affinity HR Group, Inc., Big “I” Hires’ affiliated human resources partner. Affinity HR Group specializes in providing human resources assistance to associations such as Big “I” Hires and their member companies.