ABR: Why You Should Always Be Recruiting for Your Sales Team (And How to Do It Right)

August 28, 2014

Smart sales leaders know recruiting for your sales team never stops being a priority. Learn how to build and maintain a steady pipeline of A players.

As much as we’d like it to be, finding, engaging, and recruiting A-players isn’t simple. Top sales talent is typically well compensated and not proactively searching for new opportunities.
That means that in order to meet the challenges of hiring the right people quickly sales leaders must make recruiting an ongoing priority — not just something they worry about when there’s an open role that needs to be filled. Sales leaders should always be on the lookout for top talent, and set aside time every week for recruiting activities.

Why You Should Treat Interviewing Like Building a Sales Pipeline

Renowned sales executive Jeff Hoffman argues that sales hiring should be treated no differently than building pipeline. After all, just like your best prospects and customers, top sales performers can leave your business at any time, and sales leaders must be prepared to immediately fill those holes as quickly as possible.
On that note, there’s rarely a bad time to hire a top performer. If you happen across a rock star sales candidate, it shouldn’t matter if you have an open position or not — your singular focus should be on how you’re going to hire that person. In our experience, nothing motivates an expansion-stage sales team more than seeing a parade of high-quality candidates interviewing with a sales manager, director, or executive. So, you should make it a goal to interview candidates every week, even if you aren’t actively trying to fill open roles.

How to Recruit Sales Talent

The Bait
Photo by: nist6dh
Because high caliber sales reps may not be actively looking, you need to be prepared to sell them before you reach out to them. What makes your company special? What can you provide that their existing employer can’t? Why should they want to work for you — the sales manager or executive — instead of their current boss?
Ultimately, great salespeople are attracted to:

  • Leaders with a clear vision and a great team
  • Compensation plans that incentivize and reward overachievement
  • Autonomy and account control
  • Team-wide (and individual) accountability
  • Access to resources
  • Clear expectations
  • Company cultures that present opportunities to move up the ladder
  • Company growth potential (everyone wants to get on a rocket ship)

While growing B2B SaaS companies can easily deliver some of those things (vision, autonomy, accountability, and culture), others will be harder to convey.
In recruiting, it’s vital to be able to understand and relay this value proposition to prospective candidates. Just like your customers, top candidates want to go with growing companies with real competitive advantage that are solving a real problem. You also have to keep in mind top talent is constantly being recruited. You need to beat out your competitors to get them on board, and that starts with understanding and relaying your company’s value proposition in a clear, compelling way.
The key is to remain focused on what makes your business unique and clearly communicate that value to prospective candidates.

Defining the 5 Pillars of Your Company Value Proposition

  • Who is your target customer/audience?
  • What problem are you solving?
  • How are you solving it?
  • How is your solution better or different than alternative options/competitors, and why is this important?
  • How can your provide this — who are your customers?

Be sure you can clearly explain why your company beat out competitors, provide specific examples and customer testimony, and above all else offer solid proof of the success of your company’s solution.
Beyond the value proposition of the product and company, know your employee value proposition. This is the value that employees get in return for their employment. TO attract top candidates, give a view of the culture, the employees – showcase what gets them up in the morning, and the benefits of working for your company.

Defining the 5 Pillars of Your Employee Value Proposition

  • What are your company’s aspirations?
  • What is the company strategy/vision for the next 6 months? 1 year? 3 years?
  • Why do people love working at your company?
  • What is the impact someone in this role will have on the team, and on the company as a whole?
  • Why is this opportunity between than another expansion stage tech opportunity?

If you can clearly communicate why the best candidates should join your company, it’s more likely that they will.

Where Should You Be Looking for Top Sales Talent?

Tower Optical binocular
Photo by: Ellie
The very best sales talent usually isn’t proactively searching and applying for new opportunities, so if you want A-players you can’t just post an ad on LinkedIn, kick back, and wait for the resumes to roll in. To find A-players you need to be proactive, and there are a number of tactics your business can leverage to find and engage top sales talent. These are three of the most effective tactics:

  1. LinkedIn: LinkedIn is a fantastic resource for building a pipeline of top sales candidates. But there’s one key caveat: Reaching out to candidates via LinkedIn is an art form. Be sure to tailor your message to each candidate’s background and skillset, and make a compelling pitch for your company. If you can get introduced to a potential candidate by someone you know don’t hesitate to ask. Just like in sales, a warm intro is always better than a cold InMail.
  1. Referral incentive programs: Often times, your own team is your best resource for identifying and creating relationships with top sales talent. Birds of a feather flock together, so there is a good chance that your top performing reps are friends with other driven individuals whether from personal life or previous employers. That said, you need to be proactive about asking for those referrals and you must be willing to incentivize employees to give you access to their networks. Consider making referral payouts less than an external recruiter’s fee and divide the bonus into two payouts: Half when a candidate signs on with the company and half if they’re still with the company after the 90-120 mark.
  1. Conferences and Events: I cannot tell you how many times I’ve spoken to candidates who say something like “I stopped by your company’s booth at ABC conference and got a great impression” or “I met Tom Smith at ABC conference and he spoke highly of the team and the direction of the company.” Get your reps out there networking at these events and meeting other sales reps in the space. Let them know what positions are open on the team so they can relay that information to whomever they meet. A players want to work with other A players, they learn from them and challenge one another. Networking is a simple and great tactic for employment branding and another route for employees to take advantage of the referral program incentive.
  1. External recruiters and staffing agencies: When you go this route, it’s critical to educate recruiting vendors on your company’s value proposition and its unique culture, and request that their recruiting team provides regular feedback.

Get a Jump Start with Sample Sales Interview Questions and a Free Hiring Assessment

Download our free sales interview benchmark guide. Inside you’ll find the necessary questions to ask to really dig into a candidate’s experience and assess them on the three key components — Drive, Selling Skills, and Personal Attributes — that ultimately separate the best sales reps from the rest.

Photo by: Flazingo Photos

Director of Talent

<strong>Carlie Smith</strong> was the Senior Talent Manager, Sales & Marketing at OpenView. She worked directly with hiring managers and key stakeholders within OpenView and its portfolio to lead vital searches and provided process guidance on recruitment strategy, including talent identification, strategic sourcing, relationship building, and competitive intelligence. Currently, Carlie is the Director of <a href="https://www.circle.com/en">Circle</a>.