by Sabrina Balmick, Marketing Manager, ACA Talent
Recruiting talented sales professionals continues to be a challenge, even with all the great candidates on the market. Part of why sales hiring can be so difficult is because of the sales recruiting process, rather than the candidate pool itself. Recruiters may uncover strong candidates with the right skills for the job, but end up losing them to a complex or lengthy recruitment process.
Let’s look at some of the most common blunders and how you can put your recruiting process back on track
1. Broad recruiting focus. Instead of casting a wide net and reeling in droves of so-so fits, try fine-tuning your sourcing focus. Begin by developing detailed candidate profiles that adhere to the hiring manager’s requirements for a successful sales rep. Talk to managers about their most successful reps and find out what makes them tick, and how you can find those skillsets in your current candidate pool. In addition, don’t make assumptions based on a resume. If a candidate looks strong, but may be missing a keyword or two, schedule a phone screen anyway. Often, you’ll be surprised at what the candidate might have left off the resume, and you’d have missed out on a potential hire.
2. Fishing from the wrong candidate pools. This can be just as inefficient as casting too broad a net. Instead, diversify your sources and play to your strengths. Are your best candidates coming from social networking or job boards? Which ones work best? Are you finding strong candidates simply aren’t online? The biggest goldmine of potential recruits is your internal employee network, so publicize your open jobs and ask for referrals.
3. Boring job descriptions. Don’t rely on a laundry list of requirements in the job description to help you avoid the bad fits. While some candidates do self-select out of the process if they don’t believe they meet the hiring specs, many don’t. Instead, use your ads as an opportunity to sell the opportunity. Paint a picture of your great company culture. Use language that appeals to your target audience. If you’re looking for aggressive go-getters, use bold, energetic language that speaks to sales hunters. If you’re hiring a consultative seller, scale back your language to speak to customer-focus.
4. A long recruiting process. Companies trying to ensure that they’ve hired the right fits might unwittingly subject candidates to long recruitment processes that involve several layers of vetting. While this is highly effective for assessing executive-level candidates, it’s less so for entry- to mid-level job seekers, because they tend to drop out of the process and pursue other opportunities for a faster offer. For companies eager to seal the deal with strong sales candidates, tightening the recruiting process can help stem candidate fallout before the offer stage.
If you find this happening often, review your recruitment process and see where you’re losing candidates. Where can you make improvements? Where do candidates get stuck for days or weeks at a time? There should be a constant flow of activity that keeps the candidate moving through the process. Schedule interviews with key decision makers earlier in the process to shorten your hiring cycles and reduce your job vacancy rates.
5. Not measuring success properly. While you may know what’s happening on your desk, you need to know what’s going on with your pipelines in order to spot problems before they occur and put together a strategic, proactive plan to keep the recruiting motor running. If something isn’t working, the numbers will tell you.
Next, look at the hiring metrics that make a difference to recruitment. Do you need a certain number of hiring manager interviews before an offer is made, and why? How does adjusting this number change the outcome and how does it affect your hiring cycle time? Look at post-hire stats. How long does it take for employees to ramp up? What’s your turnover ratio? When are employees leaving and why? The better the information you track, the more accurate your metrics will be, allowing you to craft the most effective process for your organization.
Recruiting is always a moving target, subject to external factors and internal pressures. What worked last year, may not work this year. There may be technology advances that make your job easier and more efficient. Keep an ear to the ground and an eye on the horizon. Tighten your search parameters and your process, and you’ll be well on your way to hiring success.
How do you ensure your sales recruiting organization is not only surviving, but thriving? Email your tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.