Product sales are the lifeblood of your business and selling your products requires top sales people. You could, for example, make the best widgets in the world. You might even have widgets with unique features that few, if any, of your competitors have. You can produce them quickly and you keep your costs down. Your staff are loyal and happy. All of that is great but if you do not have a team of killer sales people out there getting customers to sign orders, your business will collapse rather quickly.
Salespeople — especially the really good ones — are a quirky bunch. Great salespeople provide management with many challenges and a good number of headaches but they also bring in buckets of money, and that’s what businesses want, right?
The real challenge is finding, attracting and hiring top sales talent. And the bad news, I am afraid to say, is that it’s not going to get any easier. Workforce demographics are changing rapidly and in the next few (by 2020) years, over 50 percent of your workforce will be Millennials. As they grow in numbers, their younger siblings will start entering the workplace, the IGen.
Now generational theory is a discussion for another day but it is important to be aware of the challenges you can expect to face in the future. Millennials are not the lazy, disloyal and self-entitled people that they have been made out to be—well most of them anyway. They do however think and act very differently to earlier generations and will challenge your traditional ways of doing business.
So, how do you go about recruiting top salespeople? The best ones invariably are in a comfortable position and raking in the money and are not looking for a new position, at least not actively. Recruiting new sales talent will require a sustained, targeted strategy and concerted effort.
Here are a few pointers to make your strategy more effective:
Know your market
Just as your business strives to understand your customers better, you need to do the same with top salespeople. You need to have an understanding of how they think, what they want from a company and position and where they currently work. You also need to know a bit about their demographics. Where are they, how old are they and other relevant information?
One of the best tools for specialized recruiting that is currently available is LinkedIn. It will provide you reports with a wealth of information on where to find top salespeople, what companies they work for and a host of other valuable information. It is pretty straightforward to find and approach prospective recruits directly through LinkedIn or other social media platforms. In fact, recent studies showed that 70 percent of Millennials found their current job through social media. Over 30 percent of all Google searches are job-related.
Third-party job sites also work well and don’t discount the power of referrals. Some companies have started using webinars to attract a wide range of potential candidates and use their interaction on the webinar to shortlist prospects they wish to target.
Basically, you have to fish where the fish are.
Understanding what they want
You need to have an intimate understanding of what the talent is looking for. If you are employing Millennials, their motivation and drivers are different from previous generations. Money is obviously an important factor but there is so much more that employees are looking for.
Their work needs to be aligned with their goals and beliefs. They want to do something meaningful and significant. They also want to develop and learn. They also care about your company vision and mission.
Being digital natives, they will also expect the best technology available to them. They will want to use their own devices, have quality data speeds and job enhancing tools — Salesforce order management systems, for example.
The best way to make this work is to build an employer brand and perfect your internal recruiting communications. This means having a great career page, enticing and informative job descriptions and using compelling, quality content on social media that attracts interest and gets the right people following pages.
If your research has shown you ideal candidates to target for top sales people are not Millennials, they will have different motivators and needs. The key is to understand your target market and do some research into what drives them and how to attract them to work for your company.
Target Prospective Talent
Now that you have some understanding of what you are looking for, where to find them and how to attract them, you need to start targeting the selected potential talent.
As previously stated, this can be done directly through LinkedIn. It is important to personalize your message on LinkedIn as well as other social platforms.
The Interview Process
Expect interviews to differ dramatically from how they have been conducted in the past. If you have done your research correctly, you already know you want this person. Sure, you still want to engage with them and ensure they will fit the company culture and live up to the expectation you have developed from your research.
The old style of interviewing could bore many good prospects and turn them off your company. Don’t be surprised when they start interviewing you. They also want to make sure the company and management style is a good fit for them.
Using the information you learned in researching what drives and motivates them, you need to sell them on how and why your company can offer what they want. Try to establish if they have any specific, unique requirements that could sway them to your side. Often, these are not monetary factors so if you are able to accommodate a specific need, it could make the difference between getting the talent on board or continuing your search.
Close the Deal
As in sales, you need to close the deal. This is done by selling them on future growth prospects or other relevant requirements you have established during your research and the interview.
The best sales people will be in high demand from a number of companies. They will not be easy to recruit and simply throwing more money at the situation is not the answer. A fine tuned, strategic and informed approach is needed.
Once you have them, your next challenge is to hang on to them for as long as possible.