Jump-Starting a Stalled Sales-Recruitment Program

By Sabrina Balmick

Every sales-recruiting effort needs revving up now and again. For companies facing recruiting challenges, this means rethinking not only who they hire but how they hire. After all, you can attract the best candidates, but if your hiring process isn’t efficient, you’ll lose more candidates than you ultimately hire.

While building an entirely new sales-recruiting process from start to finish is no easy task (and requires continuous adjustment), there are a few processes you can address in order to make the most of your candidate pool.

  1. Job Specifications: You can’t build a great sales team without understanding the strengths and skills that work best for your organization. A recruitment effort stalls partly because managers and their recruiting partners rely on stale job descriptions and rigid hiring requirements.Forget the bullet points and focus instead on your current team. What are its strengths and weaknesses, and where can you capitalize on opportunities? Venture into the field to observe your sales team’s day-to-day activities. This not only allows you to gauge your team’s skill sets in real time, but it also provides insight into any potential retention pitfalls, including why employees are staying with or leaving the company. With this information, you can better plan your hiring strategy to ensure that 1.) you aren’t churning and burning hires, and 2.) you’re providing them with the tools and training they need to sell and drive revenue.
  2. Sourcing and Recruitment Marketing: The best way to find salespeople isn’t by posting on job boards. Good salespeople are always looking for the next career opportunity, but they may not be actively applying for jobs. Still, they usually have their ear to the ground and are often open to chatting about a new job. To reach these folks, rally your professional and personal networks to spread the word about new opportunities, rather than simply post and hope someone applies. If you’re working with a recruitment partner, make the most of that connection to reach those candidates you otherwise wouldn’t have uncovered.
  3. Employer Branding: Employer branding reflects how others see your organization throughout the hiring process and employee lifecycle and ultimately affects your ability to attract candidates. With a strong brand proposal, you’ll be in a better position to hire and retain strong candidates.To build the strongest brand, start by asking tough questions about the hiring process. What’s your company’s reputation as an employer? Are employees providing a consistent stream of referrals? Are you an employer of choice or a last resort? How do candidates and competitors perceive your company? If your company’s reputation is less than stellar, is it fixable?Another key part of your employer brand is the hiring-manager interview, which is one of the best occasions to showcase your company’s strengths and unique selling points. Remember that interviews are not only an audition for the candidate but for the company also, so remember to sell the opportunity. Why would this candidate want to work for you? What does your company bring to the table that a competitor can’t? How can you help take your new hire to the next level?
  4. Resume Reviews: Keep an open mind while reviewing resumes. When revenue is on the line and you need a magic-bullet salesperson, it’s easy to become hampered by a checklist of attributes your next superstar must have. While there are some skills that may not be negotiable, you may miss out on hiring some otherwise great candidates simply because they didn’t meet all of your requirements.Consider what skills are necessary to do the job, and decide whether you’re willing to train on them. The answer might allow you to open up your candidate pool and hire faster – and the faster you hire, the sooner your new salesperson can begin selling.In addition, if you’re on the fence about a candidate, conduct a quick phone screening to see if he or she fits the bill and might be worth interviewing in person. The candidate may possess experience or skills that aren’t listed on the resume but may be valuable to your organization.

The hiring process shouldn’t be a static function that never changes. Like the sales process, recruitment must adapt to external and internal pressures in order to work efficiently. By making incremental adjustments, your sales-recruitment process could run more smoothly, and you’ll be able to recruit better talent.

Sabrina Balmick
Sabrina Balmick serves as marketing manager for ACA Talent, a recruitment-process outsourcing firm specializing in sales recruitment. She works closely with the company’s sales and operations teams to develop content and implement marketing programs that effectively reach and recruit qualified sales talent. Email her at marketing@acatalent.com.

Why Love (Not Money) Makes Great Leaders: Insight from Dr. Herb Greenberg

According to Dr. Herb Greenberg, founder of Caliper Corporation, great leaders are not motivated by money.

This is just one of the conclusions Dr. Greenberg drew from his extensive research on the qualities and characteristics that make great leaders, which he published in his book, Succeed on Your Own Terms (which eventually became a New York Times bestseller).

Among the hundreds of leaders interviewed for the book, Dr. Greenberg says that each had his or her own unique definition of success. “Each person knew exactly what he or she needed to do in order to feel like a success, short term and long term,” says Dr. Greenberg. “None of these leaders used money as a definition of success.”

Dr. Greenberg (who lost his sight at age 10) launched his own long and successful career with a single great idea — he was convinced there was a market for assessment tools that could help companies assess qualified candidates for job openings, including sales. In 1961, he left his job as a college professor and founded Caliper. He and his business partner began knocking on doors to spread the word about the value of a comprehensive personality test to assess job candidates in management, sales, and customer service. At the end of four months, they had nothing to show for their efforts but a string of rejections. “Many times, I woke up thinking to myself what have I done?” Greenberg told Inc.com in this video interview. In a blog post, he summed up his recollection of that time by saying, “The number of rejections, including being laughed at, cannot be counted — I can only say that we needed face masks to protect us from the doors slammed in our faces.”

Finally, Gail Smith, VP of Merchandising for General Motors, decided to take a chance on them. Just three years later, Caliper was performing assessments for 900 job candidates a month for dozens of clients. Dr. Greenberg told Inc.com that persistence was key to their success. “Fight through the failures, take the rejections … and we say this to anybody who’s looking for a job or a client. People are going to tell you ‘No.’ If you’re ahead of the curve, you’re going to hear ‘No, no, no.’ You need the ego strength to take that beating … and push forward.”

Today, Caliper employs more than 250 professionals in 12 offices around the world and is a recognized leader in using personality tests and assessments to predict success in management, sales, customer service, and even sports. In this video interview, Dr. Greenberg shares a story with Selling Power founder and CEO Gerhard Gschwandtner about a successful basketball player they interviewed.

“Everyone said he had all this talent in the world … but would never be Shaquille O’Neal or a Tim Duncan, or any of the great ones,” Greenberg says. “I said, “What’s holding you back? Why aren’t you as good as you could be?’ He said, ‘I hate this game.’ I said, ‘So why are you playing it?’ He said, ‘They pay me $6 million a year!’ But that’s what stopped him from being a great leader. Not loving his work.”

Watch the interview below between Dr. Herb Greenberg and Gerhard Gschwandtner and discover the top qualities that all great leaders share.

Stop Hiring the Wrong Sales Reps

According to Peak Sales Recruiting, the cost of adding the wrong salesperson to your team can total nearly seven times the annual salary for the position. Yikes!

How can sales leaders mitigate the danger of making an unwise hiring investment? One of the best ways to find out what’s really behind a stellar resume and great interview skills is to talk with people the rep has actually worked for or with.

That’s why some companies are now using confidential electronic surveys to gather feedback on candidates from multiple sources (such as managers, peers, and direct reports).

Many sales leaders might have felt burned in the past by glowing recommendations that turned out to be pie-in-the-sky endorsements, but the confidential nature of such surveys inspires candid feedback, say the folks at SkillSurvey. They have long believed that traditional phone reference checks are outmoded and insufficient to give sales managers a truly objective look at a candidate’s past performance.

Their automated survey is designed to provide a “360-degree” assessment of a candidate’s behaviors, skills and developmental needs — and the confidential request for feedback works: more than 85 percent of references respond to a reference request when the request guarantees anonymity.

When soliciting feedback from references, SkillSurvey asks about a candidate’s:

  • Ability to consistently meet or exceed sales goals.
  • Persistence when faced with objections or other setbacks.
  • Competencies in managing post-sale relationships.
  • Determination in locating qualified sales opportunities.
  • Ability to leverage technology (like CRM) for productivity.

To learn more about how how to efficiently and accurately assess potential sales hires for your team, join us on Wednesday, October 25 (2-3 PM Eastern) for a live Webinar, “How to Avoid the High Cost of a Bad Sales Hire.” Selling Power founder Gerhard Gschwandtner will be hosting, and panelist Jack Kramer, Vice President of Field Operations at SkillSurvey, will be sharing insight and expert tips.