As the ‘war for talent’ continues to heat up across many industry sectors it can be a real challenge for employers to recruit top talent – perhaps especially so across sales & business development disciplines, where it has traditionally always been tough. With this in mind some employers run the risk of losing potentially great hires by being too rigid about only wishing to see candidates who ‘tick all the boxes’ of their brief.
The limitations of a tight brief
When hiring, your process may dictate that you need to stick to a brief that is absolutely water tight in its requirements. The person you are looking to hire must meet certain pre-defined criteria – they must come from a specific sector, have a particular type of background, experience or systems knowledge. Although having a tight brief may seem like the best way to ensure you get only the best candidates, based on our experience we have a slightly different view.
Within the sales sector in particular this can limit the choice of candidate, as the best talent may not come from a specific background or a particular sector. A sales person with the right attributes in terms of ability, cultural fit, attitude and drive can often quickly learn the specific market/technical knowledge and deliver outstanding results, whereas a candidate fitting all of the requirements of your brief may not have the core attributes necessary to succeed – and, crucially, this is much more difficult to address.
Talent is found in all sorts of shapes and sizes and actually the risk for an employer in hiring a sales person from a different sector is potentially marginal compared with the upside.
When starting a new role, a sales person is often taking on risk by giving up his or her own business at the same time. As a sales person’s function is to build solid business relationships to ensure customers are spending money with them, they build a portfolio of loyal customers which they may lose when changing position, particularly to a different industry sector. Most sales people look to their commission or bonus for the real money, and this is where they value themselves. To move to a new employer, sales people take the risk of reducing their earnings as they work to build up new business.
So do you continue searching for that ideal candidate or do you widen your brief by taking a look at a proven sales person with the right flair but who doesn’t necessarily tick all those boxes?
We have worked with many very tight specifications on behalf of clients, many of which have been successful. However, we have also spent a considerable amount of time identifying top talent in other areas, with the right attributes, and introduced them to our clients based on our knowledge of the clients business and of the candidates transferable skills. In almost every case these have been the candidates that our clients have been most impressed with.
Whilst the war for talent continues to heat up, having a flexible specification can mean the difference between recruiting or missing out on a star performer.