Before You Hire Your Next Sales Reps…

Today, a sales position is the most challenging one to fill in the vast majority of businesses. A strong economy leads to increased frenzy for more sales. This is good, but the war for talent in the sales arena has also been rising up to nuclear levels - and the pool of GOOD sales reps has not been catching up with the demand. If you are planning to increase your sales force, here is a simple checklist to follow BEFORE you even post your job ad.

Most industries currently complain about a serious shortage of sales people - the average being around 35%. What it means from a "recruitment marketing" viewpoint is that you are going to see more cross-industry migrations of sales reps. You will want to make your job offer attractive to sales reps who do not necessarily have experience in your industry but possess the fundamentals of salesmanship.

The following checklist should help you get prepared to be competitive! Go through it BEFORE you even start writing your ad. And avoid the mistake of starting your next recruitment mission if you have not cleared/checked each point on the list.

  • Mission statement. Make sure you have and show a mission statement for the company that is highly inspiring, customer-driven and shows clearly that "it is not just about the money." You might think that good sales people are only money-motivated - big mistake. Top sales people are purpose-driven and are good at selling something they LOVE to sell. Money comes as a reward for doing a good job.
  • Your future. Before you promote the job, promote the company first, mostly in terms of future. Where are you going, what does the future look like in your business? No good sales person will join a company that shows no bright future and/or can't show a strong expansion plan.
  • What are the challenges? Be clear on the challenges of the job - do not hide anything. Apply the "Law of Transparency." Scare candidates - the meek will run away and the tough ones will appreciate.
  • What are the rewards? Be clear on the compensation package. Ensure you have a written policy on commissions and bonuses that leaves no room for confusion, mis-interpretation or disagreement. Lack of clarity on the reward system will kill performance-driven applicants' interest.
  • Be competitive. Good sales reps are good negotiators and know their value on the market. Do your research before you put up an offer. You can have access to many compensation data for sales reps on the web, across many industries. Check for example http://www1.salary.com/Sales-Salaries.html.
  • Be attractive. Review the attractiveness of your company by asking yourself the question: WHY would someone want to join our team and fight for it in front of potential clients? Put yourself in a candidate's boots who arrives for an interview: what will he or she be attracted by and what could make that person run away?
  • Review your on-boarding process. If you are hoping to hire great performers who will show sales instantly without your help, forget it. Sales people need babysitting, whether you like it or not. The care and attention you show within the first month will dictate your retention success.
  • Review your training plan. Most companies make the horrible mistake of overwhelming their newly hired sales reps with technical and administrative training material that seriously reduce their excitement within the first two weeks. Allow them to win fast on the job by defining what they should be able to produce, in what sequence and within what time frame. For example, you can't ask a new sales rep to close deals when he has not yet been able to make a good product demo. And you can't require them to do good demo's before they are able to make qualified appointments.
  • Realize it is not about the product. Great sales people do not always excel on the product, but they always excel on personal relationships. They are "people" persons who understand that the first thing the customer buys is TRUST. So before you plan to provide lengthy technical training to the newcomers, get them to meet or talk to customers, users and everybody in the company.
  • Prepare your execs and staff. If they are not excited at the idea of growing the team with future champs, your best candidates will feel it and run away.
  • Make a good first impression. When a candidate shows up for interview, ensure that the receptionist is informed and makes a great "first impression." Sales people are emotional and will show instant resistance to lack of good manners, lack of smile and/or lack of interest. Make them feel welcome and important.
  • Remember: People do NOT work for a company, they work for someone! Whoever the sales rep will work for is the one person who will have the most impact on the candidate's decision to join… or not. You might have everything in place but here is an unfortunate observation: people do not quit their job - most of them quit their boss.

As a second reason suggested by BHR, poor levels of retention have forced organizations to look outside for new, fresh talent. Per the Census and Bureau of Labor Statistics (see blv.org), 95% of hiring today is done to fill existing positions - most of them caused by voluntary turnover.