Using a Thriving Job Market to Hire Good Sales People

I live in Broward County, Florida, where it announced that the unemployment rate has dropped to 2.8%.  After years of hiring top talent, an unemployment rate below 3% is not something I thought I would ever see.  I remember learning in school that 3.5% of people don’t even want to work – I guess some of those people have given up being out of work.

As an Outsourced VP of Sales working with many companies, I believe today’s unemployment rate for salespeople is probably close to zero.  A breathing, walking person with “Sales” on their resume will qualify them for an interview.

Given our amazingly tight employment market, what should a small business do in order to find more quality salespeople to grow?  Can you take the risk to release a low performer and try to backfill?

Prepare, Prepare and Most Importantly, Prepare!

A successful hiring search will require the following, at a minimum:

  1. Get your house in order; map the market and geography you need the salesperson to attack. Where exactly is the market? Who are the buyers? How specifically are you better than competitors?  A good salesperson MUST be able to tell your story, but you need to set them up for success.
  2. Take the time to clearly define the role and responsibility of the position. Before you can find that diamond in the rough, you need to know what kind of diamond you are even looking for.  How do you expect the person to act?  What pricing flexibility do you allow?  Will your company provide any legitimate leads?
  3. Talk money but forget the starting base salary of the last person you hired three years ago. This is a very different world and expect to pay at least 10% more, probably closer to a 20% increase.  Mentally process that figure before you start the search to avoid choking in front of the candidate during the salary conversation.  Reality should prepare you to move forward instead of holding you back.
  4. Don’t look for a unicorn. You know, that elusive candidate with 10 years in the industry, brings his or her own leads and wants to work on 100% commission. Open your thinking to what type of industries are like yours, either in how you work or who you sell to.  Then focus on behavioral and sales process competencies that match your culture and expectations.
  5. Build a 60-90-day formal On-Boarding Plan. Plan to spend 10 minutes during interviews sharing this plan with your best candidates.  Providing clarity and an ability to demonstrate organization – i.e. that you are prepared – cultivates confidence that you are capable and ready to lead the candidate to success.

Overcome Sales People Obstacles

Hiring good salespeople has always been challenging.  And today that is a massive understatement.  Instead of seeing it as an obstacle, approach it as an opportunity.  Take advantage of a very strong economy- don’t be afraid of releasing underperforming sales people thinking you won’t be able to find better replacements.

When you need to hire more salespeople, treat it like building a strategic plan for your company.  Bring your best people together to do the homework prior to starting the search.  Be prepared to share a great story, know who you are looking for and make a competitive offer within hours of identifying your best candidate.

Don’t let a fully employed economy scare you from growth.  Now is the time to build up your sales tool kit with quality sales people. If you could use some ideas or have questions on the process, contact me to learn more about seeing measurable results in your sales organization.