Sales Recruiting vs. Sales Hiring: Growing Your Sales Team in 2022
A pandemic, a lockdown, a recession, and more than a few supply chain issues are just some of the hurdles that companies will need to overcome to restore their sales growth in the year ahead. Sounds like an insurmountable task, to say the least, but one that can often be accomplished by rethinking and reengineering the sales infrastructure — the foundation for building a scalable and repeatable sales model.
Prior to the current environment, companies were too busy running their businesses to really delve deep into their operations. They weren’t necessarily looking at the needed elements to build their sales capability. After months of instability, however, all that’s changed. They’re now evaluating whether sales engagement strategies will work in a post-pandemic world. They’re watching how customers or clients have moved to a hybrid sales model — that, or entirely “virtual” for all sales interactions. They’re even evaluating how the overall sales process has changed. Honestly, the list goes on and on.
More importantly, many businesses are now wondering whether they have the right salespeople in the right sales positions. We can certainly attest to that. Many of the businesses coming to us these days want our team to verify whether their current salespeople have the skills to both do the job and support future sales growth.
Companies are in the midst of retooling and reassessing their sales infrastructure to do that and also position themselves to attract great sales talent to build their sales capability. The problem with this is that the talent shortage is real. For companies looking to add to their sales teams, this poses a unique challenge. Finding qualified talent was already a struggle prior to the pandemic, the recession, and so on. People just aren’t as comfortable entering into what many believe to be a challenging role.
Higher education hasn’t helped matters. Most colleges and universities don’t offer courses on “selling.” It’s often chalked up to a trait that someone is born with, and post-secondary education is there to support the chosen industry. However, people can learn to be salespeople, which makes hiring and recruiting key to building a salesforce for the future.
Though interconnected, hiring for sales and recruiting for sales are two different functions, both of which have varying degrees of success. It all comes down to the approach. Companies need to understand what they’re looking for in an ideal candidate. From skills and background to traits and education, great salespeople can be found in myriad specialties and industries when taught and provided with the proper tools and structure.
Sales Hiring Explained
By and large, hiring is the as-needed process of finding and evaluating candidates to fill vacant roles. Many organizations fall short when hiring for sales because they are losing more salespeople than they can bring in to replace their losses. It’s a reactive approach to talent acquisition, with few (if any) success metrics attached to the process. New additions to the team may interview well but might not necessarily be a match for the organization.
If a company ends up with a bad hire, that can cost at least 30% of the employee’s first-year earnings. Beyond the financial impact, bad hiring decisions can also take a toll on company morale, erode employee engagement, tarnish the brand reputation, fracture the sales pipeline, and even damage organizational culture.
At Sales Xceleration, we define hiring a bit differently. The term refers to all the tools needed to employ a solid, capable hiring strategy, and it involves many moving parts:
Job descriptions should do more than communicate the details of the job (e.g., duties, responsibilities, skills, qualifications, and so on). It should spark interest in job seekers. Focus on the talent you want, and then craft the description to that individual to help readers envision themselves in the role. Use clear, concise language, making sure to avoid any confusion or inconsistencies.
Sales skill set summary
A skill set summary is just as it sounds: a list of competencies, knowledge, experience, and both hard and soft skills that are needed to be a success in the sales role.
Ideal candidate profile
An ideal candidate profile is similar to the skill set summary in that it details the required skills, competencies, knowledge, and experience required for the sales position. This document, however, goes deeper into the personal qualities, past achievements, and other characteristics of the ideal recruit.
Effective interview strategies go beyond a series of stock questions and should entail follow-up inquiries to an applicant’s responses. They should also involve behavioral interviewing techniques. Asking for specific examples of skill, ability, or knowledge usage can provide insights into not only how the candidate would respond to certain situations, but also their personality.
Beyond sitting down to talk with candidates, other beneficial components to the interview and screening process include employment tests and assessment tools. In fact, a study out of Michigan State’s business school found that both tactics were more accurate indicators of success than interviews alone.
Probably one of the most essential components to the sales hiring process, an onboarding plan spells out exactly how to introduce a new hire into the organization. It describes the prior-to-start activities, orientation, materials, training schedule, first-day priorities, first-week priorities, and a number of other elements. By systemizing the process, employers ensure nothing is ever missed and that new salespeople can get up and running as soon as possible.
Outreach channel selection
Online job ads can certainly work for many positions. Hiring for sales talent isn’t often one of them. Not that employers should avoid posting an open position on job boards, but you’re often better served by using a multitiered approach: networking, targeted ads, employee referrals, recruiters, and even talking to the salespeople who call on the company that you respect. You should also consider looking outside your particular industry for talent with transferable skills.
Much like any of the other components of the sales hiring process, extending a job offer often works best when employers establish a system. Having a hiring system in place can improve the chances that a candidate will accept the offer and prepare your team for the inevitable negotiation process. Consider extending the offer personally; detail the salary, benefits, perks, and expectations in writing; and include examples of the bonus and compensation structure.
Hiring for sales is more than a simple process. It’s a critical element that requires attention to detail and more than a little diligence to find the perfect fit. Because it’s a process in which success metrics aren’t established, it’s easy to end up with team members who aren’t a match but simply “interviewed well.” Leave nothing to chance by preparing each and every component before even soliciting and evaluating candidates for an open role.
Sales Recruiting Explained
By definition, sales recruiting involves continuous research and sourcing activities to establish a talent pipeline. Should an opening suddenly come about, companies need only go to their backlog of potential candidates to fill the role. Theoretically, the recruiting process will bring the most qualified of candidates to your operations.
At Sales Xceleration, our definition isn’t much different than that.
Recruiting is the process of searching, screening, and identifying great sales talent that closely matches client needs and sales role profiles. Sales Xceleration prefers to be involved in the sales recruiting process from the very start as the hiring manager on engagement so we can:
- Conduct exploratory sessions to fully understand the company, its culture, the industry, and talent needs.
- Assign a dedicated talent manager to the account who will serve as the point person and guide the employer through all phases of the recruiting process.
- Create ideal candidate profiles that are customized to the organization based on the preferred skill sets, background, attributes, personal qualities, past achievements, and other traits essential to success.
- Develop a customized talent acquisition strategy to locate not just ideal candidates but those perfectly suited to the organization as a whole.
- Build a custom, sustainable road map for the entire sales recruiting process to ensure the talent pool never diminishes too low.
- Offer insights into how the employer can improve the scope, stature, and territory of the sales position to make openings more attractive to top talent.
- Source a roster of passive job seekers and all elite talent not often found on job boards.
- Engage in active discussions with talent to provide details on the opportunity and “sell” them on pursuing new positions at the employer.
- Employ behavioral interviewing techniques, assessment tools, and mindset evaluations to gauge all candidates’ fitness for the role.
- Offer our suggestions for the top five candidates, finalize the choice, and then allow the employer to extend the job offer to the new recruit.
For Sales Xceleration, our Breakaway Sales Recruiting process offers the focus necessary to source and secure great sales talent based on defined success tactics.
Where to Focus Your Attention: Sales Hiring or Sales Recruiting?
With hiring focused on immediate needs and recruiting focused on future needs, onboarding someone now means hiring should be the focal point. If you are sourcing for the future, turn your attention to sales recruiting.
That said, Sales Xceleration embraces both approaches. For us, hiring for sales is the “macro” term. Sales recruiting is the “micro” term. Prior to launching Breakaway Sales Recruiting, we worked with outside recruiting firms. Yet today, our advisors use Breakaway to find great salespeople who are a solid fit. We believe recruiting is really a supplement of the overall sales hiring process. Hiring is the major deliverable we provide to customers, whereas the recruiting process is a sub-element of the hiring module.
Our value is that we own and drive both.
This is critical for our clients, as many of our customers come to us due to previously not hiring the right person in the right role. Early in our client engagement, we assess each sales contributor. In many cases, we need to replace some of the current sales staff with talent that’s a great match in skills, background, and personal attributes.
Ensuring Sales Growth
Ensuring sales growth all starts with a meeting with one of our advisors. In our experience, current sales teams will need an assessment to gauge whether a change is necessary for the talent makeup. Not every team member will be suited for the role, the company, or the culture. You always want to strike the right dynamic. Otherwise, a bad hire can shake the sales infrastructure to its core and delay the path to real sales growth.
We created Breakaway Sales Recruiting to solve for the need to recruit vs. hire for sales talent. Our experienced SX advisors will help you build a focused, talented, and capable sales team that will be accountable, disciplined, and tied to success metrics that drive real sales growth. To learn more about what Sales Xceleration can do for your business, please contact us. A member of our team would be more than happy to discuss your needs and explore your options for any one of our customizable solutions.