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The Key To Hiring Great Sales People Is Creative Sourcing

The funny thing is Recruiting overall is a challenge. No matter what the economic conditions, we are always navigating through the supply and demand waters. Today’s challenge, right now is not finding enough candidates, it is finding enough qualified candidates. KeenHire is as busy as we have ever been. Mostly we are helping growing organizations scale their Sales and Management teams. Top Sales people are not sitting on Career Builder or Monster or for that matter they are not even on Simply Hired waiting for the right job to pop out at them. Top sales people are networking, working, generating sales and focused on making the donuts. Direct headhunting is the MAIN way to find experienced, qualified, motivated top producers for your sales team.

The problem is that most VP’s of Sales and CEOs are stuck in the mud on where to find top sales people. They believe they exist inside a paradigm that sounds familiar to them, that looks familiar to them, a place they think they know and understand. However, when you think you know where to look and no one that you find hits your measurements, you might consider you are looking in the wrong place. Of course if you lay out the ground work for who ideal is and they happen to work for your industry, you know them, you know they are who you need, go for it. That being said, in our work we find that by the time you are talking to us, you have already exhausted your network.

Let’s say you are in the Staffing industry and you want to hire a top performer from the industry (because after all our industry is like no other); you want someone who already works in your territory, who has a book of business they can bring on over and who demonstrates the right behaviors, values and competencies to take your company to the next level. All that sounds great, except for their non compete and once you fight that and pay their top dollar rate they come on board and you soon discovery their success at their last company was due to something other than them making things happen. Maybe they were successful because they inherited accounts, or they landed one large elephant account and then fizzled; in actuality maybe they took your call because they were running from something rather than reaching for something. We have all hired the ‘perfect’ resume only do be disappointed by the less than perfect performer. Malcom Gladwell talks a lot about this concept in his book, “The Outliers”. It is not about the what, it is and always has been about the who.

Wanting to hire top sales people and hiring top sales people are two very different things. The astute VP of Sales remembers that he too has changed industries and did very well. She knows that hiring great sales people is more about hiring the right values, drivers, motivations, sales competencies, attitudes, behaviors and work styles than about understanding a specific industry. A smart person can learn an industry; a smart VP KNOWS he can not teach sales skills nor can she modify poor behavior and turn a sows ear into a silk purse.

The bottom line is we all need to be highly selective about who we hire to represent our firms as the world, our potential customers, our bank accounts are much less forgiving today then yesterday and it is only going to get more challenging to find and keep customers going forward. Hiring the right sales people makes all the difference.

Once you clearly define what right looks like (the numbers, the output, the results, the sales competencies & sales behaviors needed for success) in a sales role it is your responsibility to do the thinking and brainstorm where your candidates are today. They might be in the very narrow industry that you are in, or they might be in a very similar industry with a similar sales cycle selling to a similar buyer. Now that is a thought. Remember if you are wanting to hire a 10 point buck do not look in the kiddie preserve at the nature center. He is not there. If you are fishing for a 10lb bass you ought not be fishing in a blue gill pond. Your candidates are out there, it is up to you to expand your thinking and discover where they are and how to attract them to you. A good sourcing program can and will deliver high quality candidates who have what you need.


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