Sales recruiting strategies for small businesses on how to hire top-performing salespeople

Here are 9 ways that you can improve your recruiting strategies

A business is only as good as its reputation and its ability to get people to buy or engage with its products and services. Getting this reputation out into the world and establishing your brand as a trustworthy, engaging and vibrant business to work with and purchase from is a crucial part of your overall sales and marketing strategy. People have more choice than ever these days when it comes to selecting their suppliers and service providers.

Hiring effective sales people is, therefore, a top priority for any business seeking a steady stream of customers. There are many sales recruiting strategies out there, so here is a round-up of ten of the best sales recruiting tips to help your team grow and thrive.

Plan your perfect salesperson
sales strategy is everything

Before you even pick up a single sales candidate’s CV, it is essential to plan what you actually want to see in your new salesperson or people. Building up a profile in the form of a “person specification” of the ideal candidate will help firm up your aspirations when it comes to who you want to attract to work with you and represent you externally. Do this well in advance, so that you have lots of time to develop a deep understanding of what you need in your new sales team.

Always make sure, too, that you feel confident that you know how to recruit sales executives who will work for your company’s individual needs and become a long-standing asset who is popular with customers, senior management and peers alike. Whether that means working up the ideal job specification first, pinpointing the most desirable behaviours and attitudes or researching the best places and times of year to look for your new talent, the proof of your recruiting success really will be in its planning.

Personality matters

When planning your perfect salesperson and assessing the kind of person you would like to hire, take plenty of time to decide on the type of personality you are looking for. Important factors that can help you decide how to recruit sales associates to include whether they can demonstrate the following personality characteristics:

  • confidence
  • resilience
  • competitiveness
  • persistence

These character traits are all key when it comes to recruitment, however, you shouldn’t stop your analysis here. Go deeper into your list of desired characteristics, to include areas such as the ability to get on with a wide range of people in all kinds of situations, an enthusiastic, ‘infectious’ personality that endears itself to those around them, the innate talent to be pro-active in seeking out sales opportunities and

strike the best deal. Not to mention a whole load of self-belief that rests the right side of arrogance. To get a better idea of these various traits in action, if there are any salespeople amongst your acquaintances or a sales recruiter who routinely gets great results for their candidates, whom you especially admire, take some time to work out what it is about them that makes them so successful in their career.

They may be willing to chat with you about how they do their job and what they love best about it. These answers will offer valuable insight into what makes them tick and how their personality suits the industry they are in.

Sell your business

Top-quality salespeople deserve top quality services, products and brand names to sell. If you want to attract and hire the best people through your sales recruitment strategy, you must make sure that potential candidates know how good your company is. So, ensure that you are describing your company in the best possible terms, emphasising the many advantages to working there, as well as the benefits your products and services bring to customers.

Keep all company information up to date, including all online content; this is most likely the first port of call for potential sales candidates and recruiters to look up information about you – as well as print advertising, brochures, exhibition materials etc. You need to sell yourself and the benefits of working for you just as much as your interviewees must sell their own sales skills to you as a potential employer.

First impressions count
sales person getting ready

This is true for employers just as much as potential employees so following on from the quality of your online and written branding materials comes your actual offices or venue that you choose to conduct interviews. Again, this must reflect the quality of your own products and services so that candidates can feel confident that they will be selling a quality brand. Show that success is celebrated – have achievement certificates and sales figures on display if relevant and possible, and don’t forget to show how your employees are treated with a quick tour for candidates of the kitchens, staff room, canteen and other rest areas. Dress appropriately for interviews, with smart business attire that matches expectations set for your particular industry and shows candidates that you take your business and their potential new role with you extremely seriously.

Money talks

In the highly competitive world of sales, it is crucial to offer the right motivation and incentives to attract top salespeople. The age of a ‘job for life’ is well and truly over, and people are far more likely to move for better working conditions and rewards than in previous times.

So, offering the right financial rewards from meeting and exceeding sales quotas will be a key part of the package you are prepared to offer your new sales team. Candidates are becoming more and more savvy, with clear ideas on what they are prepared to accept in the way of salary, sales incentives and added extras, such as company car, health insurance, and other employee benefits.

Be proactive in your search

Finding the right salespeople will take effort on your part, far beyond simply placing a job posting or advert on a job board, sitting back and hoping for the best. You need to do your research to find out where to hire salespeople, how top candidates and sales entrepreneurs looking for their next role.

Make sure you are using social media to its full advantage, especially business-related platforms such as LinkedIn. Advertise sales positions on social media, but also use it to shout about successes in your company, new product or service launches and any employee achievements that could be of interest to potential candidates.

While you can go through the entire search process using in-house resources, using a top sales recruitment agency or head-hunter can really help you save time at this point, as well as offer you added reassurance that your strategies are going to attract people who have already undergone initial scrutiny as to their suitability for your advertised sales job. A good sales recruitment agency will work either alongside your existing HR or recruitment resources or take the lead in the whole process, just as you prefer. The latter approach can prove invaluable especially for sole traders seeking to expand, or small- or medium-sized businesses that don’t have a large in-house recruitment budget or function.

Beware anyone who seems too good to be true

Don’t fall into the trap of hiring someone solely because they are available to start straight away. There could be all kinds of reasons for their seemingly miraculous freedom of movement, not least the possibility that they were ‘let go’ from their last job due to underperformance or dishonesty.

Always request and follow up references from previous employers or training establishments and trust your instincts if something doesn’t feel right. Don’t let yourself be rushed or brow-beaten into making a decision straight away if you would prefer to think about it for a bit first. This is, after all, a significant investment you are making, not only in financial terms but in furthering or potentially harming your business’ reputation.

Of course, not all salespeople who can start immediately will be problematic, but it is always wise to do your homework before committing to a solid job offer. If in doubt, a reputable sales recruitment agency will be happy to screen CVs, check facts and carry out extra research. They can also gather references and testimonials on your behalf and check that you are doing things in the right way, for example by reviewing your recruitment strategies for sales vacancies within your company.

Don’t wait until the last minute

If you wait until a salesperson hands in their notice or your profits start to suffer before putting feelers out for new salespeople or even entire sales teams, then it could well be too late.

Recruiting people in a hurry can lead to cutting corners in research, missing key red flags when it comes to potentially troublesome staff and not leaving yourself enough time to plan ahead or to look into people’s career backgrounds and references properly.

It is worth keeping an eye on your longer-term sales recruiting strategies and always knowing who could be in the market for a new job. This should already be part of your longer-term business forecasting and planning, as sales teams will need to keep pace with any product development you are working on.

Also, make sure you foster good, long-term relationships with key sales recruiters and agencies who can help you with recruiting sales professionals whenever you need them.

Let candidates shine

While it is advisable to have an idea of the type of person or people you would like to join your sales team, never go into the recruitment process with too fixed an idea so that you disregard potentially excellent people for spurious reasons. Look “beyond the CV” and put people to the test during the interview process with some practical tasks to allow them to show you their skills, even if you are initially veering towards another choice.

You never know what sales talents people can suddenly reveal during an interview or practical task. Adding diversity and variety to your sales team can help keep it vibrant and forward-thinking, so give all of your shortlisted sales candidates the chance to show you who they really are.