Remember the good ol’ days when you could place an employment ad, or “spread the word,” and receive 100+ resumes for your open jobs? I sure do. Now it seems every day I hear sales leaders, business owners, and executives lament over how, “Tough it is to find high performers.”

Today it seems there are many businesses who should post: Desperate Company Seeks High Performing Salespeople in the personal column. The problem is… they won’t be alone in their search.

Job OpeningsWhen it comes to the need for sales reps, these stats from the Alexander Group’s 2016 research tell the story:

  • 50.9% of surveyed companies increased sales headcount in 2015
  • 49.3% plan to increase headcount in 2016
  • 11.7% is the estimated average turnover rate for 2016 – quite low!!! Meaning those employed are staying put.

The demand for sales talent is high. The demand for GOOD sales talent is even higher. So much for internet purchases replacing the need for sales reps.

Last week I had the privilege of working with a high level group of business leaders. We spent a morning discussing hiring top sales performers. Each of the 16 companies was seeking sales pros and shared these hiring challenges:

  • Finding driven individuals who are “hungry”
  • Making the time for the many activities necessary to hire well
  • Difficulty in finding C-level business development reps
  • Creating a comp plan that works to recruit and retain, one that is matched to the level of expertise needed
  • Toughness in finding technical sales
  • Upgrading the skill and expertise of the team

Sound familiar?

These are the challenges of many and they have led to key current trends in hiring. From my observations and research, here are the top  common hiring trends and how you can  attract your next sales superstars:

  1. Proactive efforts needed. Gone are the days of posting and waiting. Today it’s its ABR (always be recruiting); a twist on the old ABCs of selling (always be closing). Here are several effective proactive approaches:
    • One leader has a second business card which he hands to people he is impressed with. The card prominently states, “We hire people like you.”
    • Everyone in the company is a potential recruiter and networker. This means educating people how to do so effectively and having a system in place for communicating status updates. One caution: be prepared to spend time with current employees who are unhappy that someone they referred was not hired.
    • Go beyond college recruitment fairs and get involved to drive the sales programs at universities. The professors are looking for real-time opportunities for students to see what a sales job is really like, speakers in their classroom, judges for their competitions. They need companies to work with them to drive interest in careers in sales.
    • Identify community programs that may have the types of people you need. Get involved personally or identify someone within the company who can.
    • Network everywhere! There really isn’t a bad place to network.
    • Social media. LinkedIn is always good for professional contacts. But go further! Two Facebook friends posted about opportunities at their company in the last week.
  2. Outsiders sought. Look beyond your industry, the same old universities, and specific education requirements. Which jobs or college majors have parallel skill sets, attitudes, or interests? Think about who would think YOUR job is way better than the one they currently have? Better hours, advancement opportunities, compensation, and prestige are all powerful motivators to consider a career change.
  3. Training and effective onboarding plans needed. It’s not often we hire in someone with exactly what we need. Resources need to be budgeted for and utilized to define, implement, and monitor onboarding and training initiatives. The time and energy spent by a few people upfront decreases the efforts and lost sales after the right person is hired. The days of, “Here is your account list and how to use our CRM .” is long gone. (Don’t smirk, it still happens every day!)

It’s time to step back and review what you currently do to attract high performing salespeople. Determine whether it works at the level you need or not. Then, create the plan that stretches your efforts.

A proactive plan and consistent execution will move you from “desperate company seeking high performing salespeople” to “growing company seeking high performing implementation and service teams.”

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.