6 Things HR Directors Need To Know About Sales Recruitment

As an HR Director one of your responsibilities is in ensuring that your organisation hires the very best talent – and for the most part I’m sure that your team does this very well. However if there is one area where your recruitment strategy is perhaps not so effective, the chances are  it will be with Sales roles where you just don’t seem to be able to achieve the same results, despite the fact that you duplicate the process you use for filling other key positions.  The reason is, Sales is different – it requires a different process, different mindset and different tools.

Somewhere between 60% – 70% of new sales hires don’t make it to the two year mark, and the last thing you want is a mis-hire – given that the costs associated with this can be very significant. Not just in terms of direct costs (recruitment costs, salary, NI, training, etc.) but more importantly the cost of lost opportunity.  For more information on this please read our blog post – the high costs of a sales mis-hire.

To help ensure that your organisation hires the very best sales talent and avoids the high cost of a mis-hire we have pulled together this list of 6 things you need to know about sales recruitment:

  1. Recruiting Salespeople is different.  Sales recruiting is different from recruiting for every other function.  Most businesses follow the same methodology and process to hire salespeople that they use to hire every other function in the company.  This is not effective because the sales function works completely differently from every other function.  Salespeople are different and you need to adjust your recruitment process accordingly to hire the candidates who can not only sell but will sell for your company – within your competitive marketplace, against your competitors, within the dynamics of your sales cycle and within your business culture.
  2. You  have to know how to attract the right candidates.  Attracting the best sales candidates requires a robust understanding of your business drivers, your customers, the complexity and size of your sale, what they are going to be expected to deliver and the associated compensation model.  It also means finding candidates who have the ability to understand your business  and sales process quickly; and who already possess the specific sales skills and competencies they will need  to deliver against expectations.  You will also need to ensure that they don’t have any weaknesses which may prevent them from leveraging their skills.  No sense in hiring a surgeon who can’t stand the sight of blood!
  3. You have to know how to interview them.  Effective interviewing of sales candidates requires a different approach and takes lots of practice.  Most salespeople are skilled communicators and are often better at interviewing than the people who are hiring them.  Salespeople are typically good at building rapport and in presenting themselves in a favourable manner, which creates the impression that they are going to excel at selling your products and services.  You need an interview process that is specific to the sales function and really puts them through their paces.  You should also have a screening process that weeds out the unqualified candidates to avoid wasting your time and resources.  Ideally you should use a customised assessment that screens for sales skills, competencies and hidden weaknesses.
  4. 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 small bonus element?  Should you offer straight salary?  Should you offer a smaller basic salary with a commission for hitting targets?  Getting the compensation right will not only affect your success in hiring the right candidate but will also impact sales target and longevity.
  5. You need 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.  As a minimum you need to make sure your candidates possess exactly that.  Beyond this, everyone is motivated by different things and you need to know exactly what drives and motivates each of your salespeople.  Otherwise you’ll be struggling to understand why your fantastic new hire is not delivering against expectations.
  6. You have to know how to develop them.  Even consummate sales professionals need to be developed – in fact the very best candidates expect it. 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 tend not to yield good results.  In fact, they can be a waste of money and you might do more harm than good.  You must map their development plan to their needs and yours.  Many companies get this wrong, but you need to get it right.

If you’d like to find out more about recruiting stronger salespeople and sales leaders please get in touch.

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