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Sales Leadership
Hiring Salespeople in Today's Market - Recruiting Tips For Sales Team Hiring Managers
Sep 14, 2009 | Barrett Riddleberger lock

When I began my career as a sales consultant, my clients would have four or five qualified candidates for one sales job. We would assess all of them and help our client pick the best one. Today, the scenario is reversed. I typically see one top candidate with five job offers. Times have changed. If you think you can sit back and wait for premium sales talent to come begging at your door for a job - think again. It's a buyers market and many candidates aren't going to buy what you're offering as a career unless you make a good impression on them. Times have changed.

How well a hiring manager engages the hiring process is just as critical as how well your salespeople engage the sales process.

I've listed a few items below to help increase your odds of attracting top candidates in this new era of recruitment. Remember, this article is not about incentives, compensation plans or company perks. This is about how well you compete against the other job offers that your candidate has laid out before them.

Don't Hire Too Quickly - Instead, Engage the Hiring Process Quickly

I speak to hundreds of candidates each year. The top candidates continue to tell me the same things. They tell me they have six job opportunities, but every one of them is moving so slowly. In fact, they say that they had to give up on their first choice because the company they were applying to moved too slowly and they needed to make a move. So, they went with their second choice. Their first choice company called back and was finally prepared to make the offer, but it was too late. They lost their top candidate because they moved too slowly.

When a recruiter sends you a candidate, respond back right away. If a candidate contacts you directly, determine how you will proceed and then make the call to either invite them to an interview or remove them from the hiring process. Clear your desk of candidates quickly. Either move the good ones through the next steps of the process or you might lose them.

If you need to discuss candidates with others and can't get everyone together for a face-to-face meeting, get them together over the phone or on a video conference. Don't make the candidate wait, you may not get another chance if you don't move quickly.

Don't Get Enamored With Their Resume

The resume can be misleading. On one hand it can make a mediocre performer look like a superstar. At the same time, a top performer may have a mediocre resume simply due to the quality of companies they worked for. Remember, you're hiring a human being - not a piece of paper. If you don't believe me, think about all of the people who had a great resume who failed to perform. Likewise, many Sales Champions, I'll bet, didn't all have stellar resumes either. You've got to talk to them, asses them and discover their talent.

Remember, you're hiring a human being - not a piece of paper.

For example, if they've had only 3 years per job and they're 35 years old - don't get nervous. Plenty of Class A salespeople get hired by mediocre companies. Think about it this way: Why did you leave your last job? Was it because you wanted a better job with more money and responsibility? Did you leave because poor management decisions were affecting your life and career? Too many times we scrutinize someone's resume, but then give great leniency when we actually talk to them and learn about the dictatorial manager, the buy-out with the new corporate vision that everyone despises or the corporate slashing of compensation plans because someone up top wants to keep more money.

There are many reasons why a candidates resume looks the way it does. Take a closer look before throwing away.

Reduce Time by Conducting Preliminary Telephone Interviews

If you feel it's too time consuming to conduct lengthy face-to-face interviews, start the process by doing short preliminary telephone interviews. With the right questions, you can find out if they are "interview worthy" in three to five minutes.

Bottom Line: 

Don't lose out on a top candidate because you didn't respond quickly enough during the hiring process. If you lose a great candidate, you can't be sure when another top performer will come along. Unfortunately, you may get stuck with a mediocre salesperson. Times have changed. 

About the Author:

Barrett Riddleberger is an internationally recognized leader in the fields of sales recruiting, sales training, sales assessments and sales consulting. He also is founder of Resolution Systems Inc., a strategic sales consulting firm. His book, "Blueprint of a Sales Champion," details how organizations can find, train and retain top performing salespeople - even in a highly competitive market. An accomplished author and sales consultant, Riddleberger is also highly in demand as a business development and motivational speaker for organizations seeking to drive their sales force to greater levels of performance.

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