It can be a real challenge to attract amazing sales candidates, can’t it? Attracting candidates to your company and opportunity is easier when you realize why it’s so tough: it’s part sales and part marketing. You need the right message (marketing) and the right activities (sales) to entice those candidates to apply for your job.
The workforce agency, ManpowerGroup, recently reported that 36% of global employers reported difficulty filling their jobs—the highest percentage in seven years. The report also stated how the talent shortage affects the bottom line: 54% of those surveyed reported the shortage has had a medium or high impact on their ability to serve customers.
We’re in the midst of helping several clients hire new sales representatives, and there are many pieces to this puzzle. After interviewing thousands of sales candidates over more years than I want to admit to, there are a few things I’ve learned about recruiting and hiring top sales candidates that make it easier and more efficient.
Hiring and recruiting top sales candidates begins with defining the role and then crafting the right job posting.
The world of job posting has evolved. I remember when we posted jobs in newspapers. Every word mattered, and long postings were expensive! Being concise in your keystrokes is no longer a constraint with today’s internet postings. However, that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Now we have to consider which site to post on, how to have our job found, the right keywords, and how to get candidates to actually apply.
1. Do your homework first!
Determine the marketable compensation range and benefits (which include tools provided and schedule/location) that are expected for the type of role and level of performer you want. When these are mismatched, application volume is low. When we recently sought a sales candidate with a compensation package well below market, we attracted less qualified candidates and failed to fill the position. Our client wouldn’t budge on their range until continuing an active search for seven months! Who can afford to have open sales positions for that long?
2. Ensure your posts are searchable.
• Use a title that explains the job. With most applicants searching with keywords, your title needs to be found. Don’t use internal acronyms or jargon; use the words that describe the job. “Customer Acquisition Manager” won’t be searched as much as “Sales Representative.” After you’ve settled on a searchable job title, then you can be creative and unique in your description if you want to be. Review current job postings/ads from your competitors and companies who do a lot of hiring. Here’s a fun twist for finding keywords: a post for a resume hack using word clouds to find the most popular keywords.
• Keep your job description specific and easy-to-read by using bullet points or short sentences and paragraphs. Candidates will skim many ads; what will they notice with yours that will prompt them to read more?
• Clearly outline the knowledge, education, experience, and skill must-haves for this job. If you make it unrealistic, you will get far fewer candidates. If you make it too simplistic, you’ll turn away those who are looking for a challenge.
• Include as many specifics as possible about what you offer. Move beyond the ‘Great opportunity to be a part of our team.’ Make it more specific, such as ‘Career progression, ongoing training to help you succeed, commission tiers that reward top performers.’
3. Make it easy to apply to your job.
• Dedicate a specific email address for direct inquiries that is set up with an autoresponder, so candidates know their resume is received and what to expect as a next step.
• Clearly state what must be included for their qualifications to be reviewed: salary requirements, specific information on their background, and the proof you seek.
Making it easy for candidates to apply is important, yet you don’t want to be swamped with people who are not of the caliber you seek. For example, we require that there be a cover letter with two reasons why they are specifically qualified for our position plus a salary requirement. We’ve learned some candidates have a lot of time on their hands and apply to anything hoping they’ll get a call. While it is good for them, unqualified candidates waste our valuable time. At a minimum of 2 minutes for a quick review of each resume, even 30 off-the-mark candidates consume at least an hour of time.
4. Post your job everywhere you can afford.
While Sales Gravy and Career Builder are great, there are many economical ways to post your job. It’s free to post on your company website with a Careers page or Recent News. Mentions or promotions using your company’s social media channels and LinkedIn groups plus industry associations or organizations are great ways to get the word out that you are hiring. Inexpensive sites such as Indeed and Craig’s List (Yes it’s possible to find great candidates through Craig’s list) are also viable options.
5. Develop a long-range attraction approach.
• Build a pipeline by developing relationships with local universities, job agencies, influencers, and your employees.
• Ensure your company reputation is solid, as many of the posting sites allow for feedback on companies. Make sure you are an employer and manager your current employees find value in.
That’s how the attraction for amazing sales candidates starts. Now that you have candidates, what’s next? The selection process.
That’s for another post.
4 Success Drivers You Need to Know...and Grow
How do you strengthen this "Will" among your sales associates? How does the lack of drive impact your daily life? I discussed this and so much more on a recent virtual training event you can access below. It's valuable information for any business leader who needs to maximize performance of their people to grow their company.
Click here to access the replay.