Sales hiring is arguably the most important thing your team will do to ensure revenue growth and organizational success. But finding and recruiting the best salespeople for the job is easier said than done, especially as the job market continues to evolve and shift to a remote-first environment.
Sales employees’ expectations have shifted dramatically, and sales recruiters and hiring managers have had to adjust their playbooks in order to attract and win the best candidates.
This guide will help. Below, we’ll provide you with tried-and-true strategies to find, attract, hire, and retain salespeople any time you need to grow your team. We’ll also walk through common mistakes we see during the sales recruitment process and tips to avoid them.
How Remote Work Has Changed Sales Recruiting and Hiring
According to Salesforce, 61% of sellers are confident their jobs will never be the same in a remote-first environment. Here are some of the major changes and takeaways sales leaders need to know about:
- Wider pool of sales employers and employees: Thanks to virtual recruiting and interviewing tools, location isn’t as much of a factor when it comes to applying and hiring. That means that both employers and employees have more options and competition.
- Need for top-notch tech stacks and training: Digital selling has technically been around for a while in the form of emails and sales demos, but it’s become much more widespread over the past two years. Sales organizations need to equip their team with the tech and training to keep providing customers with a great experience.
- Opportunity to identify recruiting and hiring issues: While the change has been challenging, it’s also provided companies with a window of time to notice holes in their hiring process. That said, we don’t recommend making large structural shifts without a plan. Instead, plug the gaps now and hold onto those learnings for when you can put a meaningful strategy in place.
Best Practices for Recruiting Salespeople (and Fixes for Common Mistakes)
We’ve organized the strategies and ideas below into five main categories, from essential to-do’s before you post your job listing to how to get a “yes” from your top candidates. Here’s a rundown of what we’ll cover:
- Before You Start Recruiting
- Finding Great Sales Candidates
- Assessing Skills, Experience, and Potential
- Interviewing Your Sales Candidates
- Converting Your Best Candidates
Let’s get started.
Before You Start Recruiting
1. Scope the Role
To optimize any sales recruiting strategy, you need to determine which sales roles you really need and why. This may sound obvious — you know you need to hire at least five more sales reps, for example, to meet the year’s sales goals.
But we recommend taking this time to fully evaluate your team’s needs and determine what’s missing at the moment. Think about the long term. Are there other gaps your new hire(s) could fill? Which skills are top priority?
Avoid this mistake: Hiring salespeople without thinking about the larger team dynamic. For example, you may need someone who can jump into more meetings, so maybe you should hire a Business Development Representative (BDR) instead of an Account Executive (AE). Or, maybe you want to move up-market and you hire an experienced rep, but don’t consider the kind of resources you’ll need to provide them to help them succeed with a smaller company like yours.
Consider how the person is going to slot into your current sales department and collaborate with others to drive results.
2. Create an Enticing Job Description
Next, you need to write an enticing sales job description that draws in qualified candidates and highlights the unique benefits of joining your team. Here are some tips:
- Make sure the job title is descriptive, professional, and up to date with industry trends.
- Format the job description so it’s easy to skim and enjoyable for candidates to read (bullet points and bold text works well for this.)
- Be clear, concise, and honest about the experience and skills you’re looking for and the benefits you offer.
- Present job responsibilities and expectations as opportunities to shine and grow, especially for entry-level positions.
- Emphasize how your company supports sales employees, from trainings to fun social events.
- Tell them what their next steps are (submit an application, go to your Careers page, etc.)
Avoid this mistake: Copying and pasting snippets from other company’s job descriptions. Instead, invest time in building your own great listing and using your company’s voice.
Finding Great Sales Candidates
1. Post on Job Boards
Job boards are always great for sales recruiting. LinkedIn, Glassdoor, and Indeed have remained three of the most popular sites with job hunters. Be sure to tag your job “remote/virtual possible” if that’s an option.
Avoid this mistake: Withholding salary and benefits information until deep into the interview process. As we’ve covered, organizations need to be as transparent as possible here. If it’s too low for potential candidates, it’s best that they know. That way, neither of you wastes time on applications and phone screens.
2. Attend or Launch Hiring Events
Virtual hiring events enable you to reach larger pools of candidates in less time. They also allow your hiring managers and recruiters to skip the hassle and cost of traveling to (or organizing) job fairs. Eager to meet sales-job seekers? Meet candidates through our bi-monthly virtual hiring events.
Avoid this mistake: Preparing for a virtual career fair or hiring event the same way as an in-person event. You don’t have a physical booth or merchandise to catch candidates’ eyes. Spruce up your website, Careers page, and social media profiles, and think about how you can wow candidates over a video call. If you have a list of attendees, consider reaching out ahead of time over LinkedIn.
3. Ask for Referrals From Your Current Employees or Peers
You may not need to look far to find a top producer! Tap into your social and professional network of partners, clients, employees and more to see who’s looking for their next exciting role.
If you’re asking for referrals from current team members, consider incentivizing them with bonuses and perks. You’ll make that money back before you know it: 82% of employers rated employee referrals above all other sources for generating the best ROI.
Avoid this mistake: Feeling compelled to give referred candidates a chance simply because they were recommended. If you know they don’t meet qualifications, thank everyone for their efforts and keep on searching.
Assessing Skills, Experience, and Potential
1. Screen Candidates and Evaluate Key Sales Skills
Hopefully, you’ve received a healthy number of resumes and applications. Now, it’s time to refine your applicant pool. Run through your list of criteria (experience, education, competencies, and nice-to-haves) to decide who you want to screen right away and who you’ll turn down. Who stands out?
Set up a phone screen to see whether they’re a fit. You can also ask second-tier candidates to complete a test or assessment before or after this step.
Avoid this mistake: Prolonging the screening process. Save your in-depth questions for the interview stage. Your phone screen should accomplish two things: One, assess whether an applicant can really do the job at hand, and two, answer their questions.
Let candidates know upfront what the hiring process will look like and give them an idea of when you’d reach a final decision. As we covered earlier, candidates don’t have time for lengthy, opaque hiring processes. Give them the roadmap ASAP. If not, your competitor will, and they may steal your candidate while they’re at it!
2. Look for Natural Salesmanship
As much as we’d like it to be the case, a candidate’s true potential won’t always be obvious on their resume. Helen Calvin, Chief Revenue Officer at Jellyvision, pointed out that a salesperson’s talent, grit, and resilience can matter more than their technical expertise at the end of the day. You can draw out these innate qualities during your interview, which we’ll talk about next.
Avoid this mistake: Valuing technical skills over self-motivation, adaptability, and coachability. A skill set can be a good indicator of success, but you could miss a real diamond if you’re too wrapped up in their resume.
Interviewing Your Sales Candidates
1. Ask the Right Questions
To find the right candidate for your sales team, you have to ask the right questions and ask them to answer the right prompts! For instance:
- Walk me through your sales process.
- Describe a deal you lost. What did you learn?
- Teach me something.
- How would your (former) supervisor describe you?
- What motivates you?
- How have you adjusted your sales process over the years?
Read our full list of the 25 most important sales interview questions and how candidates should answer, whether they’re applying to be a sales representative or sales manager.
Avoid this mistake: Trying to have the most unique or out-of-the-box interviewing process.. Unconventional questions and tests won’t make your company more memorable or attractive — a transparent, focused interview will.
2. Have 2-3 Stakeholders Join the Interview
Two or three heads are better than one. With this strategy, each interviewer can focus on different qualities, allowing your team to get more out of every interview. You’ll get a wider range of perspectives and voices and help your organization avoid hiring bias.
Avoid this mistake: Having too many interviewers or not deciding on your roles and questions ahead of time. Limit the number of people present so candidates don’t feel overwhelmed and plan what each interviewer will ask. These simple steps make your team look polished and create a comfortable environment so candidates can perform their best.
3. Address In-Person vs. Remote Selling
Remote and hybrid work options are now top of mind for employees in all industries, and sales professionals are no exception.
If you offer remote work options, highlight it right away because you’ve got an advantage. Remote selling, particularly if it’s a permanent change for your business, will certainly make you stand out.
If you don’t, that’s okay, just be transparent. You don’t want candidates to leave the interview feeling like they would have been left in the dark if they didn’t bring up the topic. In both cases, talk about how you’ll support employees and clearly explain your policies and expectations.
Avoid this mistake: Hiring predominantly remote workers if your team may change its mind in the next year or so. Nothing erodes employee trust like a broken promise, especially if employees feel like their health and safety are suddenly at risk.
Converting Your Best Candidates
1. Hype Up Your Employer Brand
Closing on your favorite candidates starts with making your company culture irresistible to them. The key here? “Show, don’t tell.” Don’t just say that you’re a pro-sales organization or a top-notch employer — prove it it’s in your DNA.
Introduce them to your best salespeople or talk about your professional development opportunities and success stories. Explain how you supported your employees through uncertainty. You can find more actionable ideas and inspiration in this post on awesome employer brands.
Avoid this mistake: Confusing “company culture” with a list of employee benefits. Company culture is all about the behaviors and attitudes of the people working for your business, both leaders and employees.
2. Offer Market-Leading Compensation
That’s right, not just market-rate compensation, but market-leading compensation! Reducing sales compensation simply doesn’t pan out in the long run. The reality is that salespeople are motivated by their earning potential (along with other benefits). So, make sure you’re offering attractive OTE.
We recommend going over how the candidate can achieve their OTE, how many reps hit quota last year, and what the top producer earned last year. That way, you aren’t just saying what the OTE for the role is, but sharing what people are actually taking home.
Avoid this mistake: Creating overly complicated sales compensation plans. Keep it simple and make it easy to understand base salary, bonuses, commission, and more. Your plans should be designed for transparency and serve as a morale booster — not twist your reps’ minds into knots.
3. Work With Them To Build a Clear Career Path
A defined career path is a powerful recruitment tool. It provides your final-stage candidates with a clear picture of the career opportunities waiting for them and the concrete steps they’ll take to get there — once they join your team.
By talking with employees about how they want to grow, or even sharing your standard career progression plans with them, you show that you care about their futures and invest in your teammates.
Avoid this mistake: Offering a one-size-fits-all career development plan. You can build off your standard career journeys, but the key is to work closely with each employee to carve out their unique path. Where do they want to be in a year, three years, or five years? To retain employees for the long haul, you need their buy-in.
4. Be Ready To Negotiate
It’s not just your candidates that are competing! You’re up against other companies as well. As you go through the interview process, don’t play all of your cards at once. Give yourself some levers you can pull later to convince candidates to choose you.
Avoid this mistake: Playing hardball for too long with your sales talent. If you’ve found someone you want to hire, it’s clearly for a reason. Find a workable compromise and it will pay off in the end.
Partner With Sales Assembly To Build the Perfect Sales Team
As you can see, there’s a lot to consider when it comes to recruiting the best of the best. You’ve got to invest the time, resources, and people-power, but it’s absolutely worth it to build an outstanding team.
The next step? Sign up with Sales Assembly to level up your sales recruitment process. Through our membership platform, you can access an entire pool of qualified candidates, regular online hiring events, and training programs — all the tools you need to scale better, faster, and smarter.
Chat with one of our team members today to sign up or learn more.