graphic with a magnet attracting people

Effective sales recruiting strategies start with a well-defined Sales Success Profile based on objective performance criteria. Here’s how to consistently identify, attract and retain candidates with the talent and experience to become high performers.

As a sales manager, it’s pretty frustrating when you spend a significant amount of time and energy coaching and developing someone only to discover in the end that, well, it’s not you, it’s them. In some cases, it’s not about the salesperson’s knowledge and skills or even their passion for your products or services. We’ve found that there are a number of specific characteristics and capabilities that suggest whether someone is more likely to become a high performer

It seems like a no-brainer: How could you go wrong with sales recruiting strategies focused on hiring people with a passion for selling? With consistent, effective coaching, these are the salespeople who will be most likely to deliver exceptional value to customers and differentiate you in the marketplace. Identifying and recruiting the “right” salespeople may be your best opportunity to reduce sales burnout and cut retention issues later off at the pass.

How to Recruit Top Sales Talent

In our experience, an effective and deliberate selection process is essential to recruiting salespeople who will become top performers. Most sales leaders know this. They recognize that getting the “right people” on board—those who are most likely to practice a customer needs-focus—is mission critical. But despite their best efforts, they struggle to consistently hire salespeople who will ultimately measure up to these lofty standards.

The reason: Most organizations have not clearly articulated what characteristics are most predictive of success.

This problem cannot be overstated. Although there isn’t a one-size-fits-all profile, organizations often find it difficult to nail down the key dimensions that determine someone’s performance and success. It doesn’t matter how great of an interview you have with the person, if you don’t know what you’re looking for—if you aren’t clear on the pivotal qualities that drive sales success at your company—then you’re leaving a lot to chance.

The result is sales managers hiring the “wrong” people, high sales rep turnover, decreased productivity and job satisfaction, and lost revenue. The average annual turnover for sales teams is near 30%. And 2020 was such a unique year retention could be even more difficult this year.

Sales Recruiting Tips for Finding the High Performers

Effective sales recruiting strategies and processes start with a well-defined Sales Success Profile based on objective performance criteria. Ranking your best salespeople and identifying the qualities and abilities that lead to their consistent performance will help you identify new candidates with similar talent and experience to become high performers for you.

And when assessing the practices and behaviors of top performers, it’s important to go beyond just skills and competencies. Our studies have consistently shown that attitudes, beliefs and values—factors that rarely show up on a resumé—are the characteristics that most often separate top performers from everyone else. Put another way, success in sales has more to do with who you are than what you know.

Through our work, we’ve identified 18 key dimensions that impact the performance and success of sales professionals around the world. This is a good starting point for developing your own Sales Success Profile:

  • Goal Clarity
  • Achievement Drive
  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Social Skills
  • View of Selling
  • View of Abilities
  • Values
  • Commitment to Activities
  • Belief in Product/Service
  • Coachability
  • Contact Initiation
  • Approaching
  • Interviewing
  • Demonstrating
  • Validating
  • Negotiating
  • Close
  • Follow-Up

Review the list to determine which dimensions stand out in your top performers compared to the rest of your salespeople. Then prioritize the dimensions that represent the largest gaps between your high and low performers. After taking into consideration strategic and market challenges, you can further narrow it down to the 5 to 10 dimensions that are most predictive of sales success in your organization.

Three Stages of an Effective Sales Recruiting Process

With your Sales Success Profile in hand, you can now develop a concise but effective assessment tool for determining which job candidates are most likely to succeed. This will focus your interview team on asking the right questions based on a candidate’s individual scores as compared to your organization’s top performers. Those who score higher are more likely to have what it takes to become successful sales professionals in your organization, assuming that they reinforce their scores with responses that validate their job fit.

This assessment is part of an effective three-stage sales recruiting process:

  1. Focusing & Preparing: Qualifying the candidates and preparing for the interview.
  2. Behavioral Interviewing: Asking targeted questions that reveal experience, values, actions and results.
  3. Assessing & Closing: Using informed and unbiased decision-making, and selling your opportunity.

In this process, each stage enables the next, providing a seamless methodology that consistently produces predictable results.

Recruit A Sales Team That Will Help You Serve Customers Better

There’s no silver bullet for recruiting the right person for sales, and no process is entirely foolproof. But getting a better understanding of the most predictive traits for sales success in your organization will make a huge difference, not only in your ability to hire effectively but also in how you coach and develop individual salespeople to bring out their full potential. All those things will ultimately help you serve your customers better. And isn’t that the whole point?

The day-to-day performance of your employees and how they serve customers can be your brand’s primary differentiation. When you factor in the time, money and resources you have to commit to develop a productive new hire, establishing rigorous and disciplined sales recruiting strategies is a small price to pay for a big payoff later.

Interested in learning more about our Sales Success Profiles and the impact they can make on your salesperson recruiting and retention efforts? Contact us for a discussion.

About the Author
headshot for Bruce Wedderburn
Bruce Wedderburn

Chief Sales Officer

Since 2016 Bruce has led the Sales organization with a passion for creating impactful results for clients through the successful...
upward point of view on skyscrapers

Insightful Perspectives and Tips to Help You

Serve Your Customers Better
Don't Miss Out