In this agile era, in which the biggest difference between two products or services often comes down to branding, businesses need to renew their focus on their strongest resource: their people.
Whether you’re an HR team lead or a sales leader, maintaining a high-quality salesforce is one of the biggest challenges you’re likely to face in recruitment or talent acquisition. The talents of qualified salespeople are highly coveted right now, and there’s a good chance that your next top-performer is already employed elsewhere. If not, she’s probably had her pick of positions at a host of great employers. How can you make sure that your company stands out as a destination for top salespeople?
In the old days, you might have used things like job boards or recruiting agencies to attract your sales talent. But as the war for talent gets more and more competitive, this tactic simply doesn’t cut it anymore—in large part because true sales superstars aren’t actively looking for new employment. Think rationally about how likely is for a high-achieving sales person to proactively apply for an open role with your company: probably close to zero. You should be aware that the star you are looking for is most probably too busy selling and exceeding targets for other well-performing companies.
So how do you convince someone who’s already succeeding at another company to come work for you instead? How do you position your job openings as so desirable that top talent in sales will jump at the chance to join up? For starters, you’ve got to ditch old school strategies and ways of thinking and embrace new tactics for catching the attention of your top candidates.
Step Outside the Mainstream
Take it from me: a big part of success as a salesperson comes from strong curiosity and an urgent desire to stay up-to-date. An important facet of your daily work in sales is to prospect the market, and this means constantly checking news and updates about potential future customers. This desire to stay informed includes things like traditional news articles and social media updates, but it also includes ads. If you’re being targeted on LinkedIn, Twitter, Google, YouTube, etc. as a salesperson, you’ll know that you’re being sold to, but your curiosity might be piqued. “You never know,” even for paid content that others might dismiss.
Paradoxically, this makes salespeople as a group more responsive to targeted social advertisements than many other demographics. After all, we’re talking about a curious profile always eager to learn more. Since they spend so much of their time social-selling, they appreciate a social campaign when it’s done well.
This is why the first step to hiring sales superstars is to move away from the job boards and towards social media. Your company should make a point of having a presence on the social channels most frequented by salespeople: LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram for starters.
Not only should you have a presence, but you should also have a recruitment-specific presence, i.e. a career-centric page in addition to your traditional corporate page. This gives you the ability to take a more active approach in defining your employer brand, attracting candidates, and drumming up interest. How do you this? By promoting content that’s relevant to your target audience—things that they can relate to and engage with. This is how you define yourself as a top employer for your future sales hires: by providing them with value in the places where they already spend their time.
Why Do You Do What You Do?
The advice above is relevant for all sorts of positions you might seek out, but here you might be wondering about how you should present your employer brand and EVP to salespeople in particular. What parts of your company’s story are going to be most engaging for this demographic?
For starters, you need to let your future sales superstars know why you do what you do. What problems does your business solve? How do you improve the lives of real humans with your product or service? Since you’re trying to attract authentic people who can relate to future customers, you need to be authentic about your story and open about sharing it with the world. Winners attract winners: great reputation attracts great talent, so encourage your winners to talk about winning.
You might communicate proactively about your position as a market leader (if you’re already a big name) and use this as an enticement to join your team. Conversely, you can highlight your position as a fast-growing business and focus on the unique advantages that comes with that kind of environment (rapid learning and growth, an opportunity to leave your mark, etc.).
Get the C-suite Involved
For most positions, prospective candidates would rather hear from workers lower down the totem pole, rather than C-level executives, because their most pressing interest in is the day-to-day lives and job duties of people like themselves. For salespeople, on the other hand, testimonials and interviews with leadership can be an extremely important tool for attraction—especially for more senior candidates.
Success in sales is all about being driven. You need to have a sense of purpose, and a company’s overall sense of purpose tends to come from CEOs and other members of management who are defining long-term strategic goals. Since the sales team is so critical in making those goals a reality, prospective candidates want to know what they’re up against. They want to be sure that they can align themselves with the company’s leadership.
In this way, showcasing an inspiring leader in your recruitment marketing—someone who earns respect and sets a positive tone within your organization—can be an important part of your strategy.
Proactively Discuss the Sales Career Trajectory Within Your Company
Salespeople are interested in continuous skills improvement and the potential to grow—both as professionals and in terms of their roles within a company. Unfortunately, many businesses still don’t offer sales professional the chance to do this. As such, your most promising sales candidates are probably evaluating you based on whether or not they think you’ll offer recognition for their hard work, a company culture that supports their efforts, and values that align with their own. If you want to encourage young, talented people to join your company rather than a competitor’s, you should be able to point to a pro-sales culture and talk about the importance of the sales team’s role within the company.
Have a Well-defined Compensation Plan
This might seem a little obvious, but top salespeople want to see that your compensation plan is clear, fair, and appropriate to the market you’re in. Not only will your next sales superstar be wary of companies that provide below-market-rate compensation, they’ll want to be sure that the incentives are in the right place, that it’s possible to succeed and get a large commission (if the compensation is commission based), and that won’t have to navigate vague or unclear rules. Compensation is, of course, important to almost all potential applicants, but with salespeople, there’s a lot more room to impress—or to disappoint.
Showcase Your Team
Even if most sales performers operate at a high level of autonomy, they also appreciate the importance of a well-structured, functional, capable, and diverse team. No individual can succeed without a team, and top salespeople know this. Take pride in your team and don’t be afraid to showcase them in your digital advertising. If your existing team is great, candidates will want to join up and become a part of it. Show them what they’re missing by highlighting past wins and potential future successes.
Sales is a battle, and you want the top talent in the business to get excited about fighting for your side. Why? Because a true sales superstar can help your business to grow and develop by using their top-level skills to proactively prospect, present, engage, and close deals. Given how important someone like this can be to a team, it’s critical not to waste time. Figure out what your next awesome sales hire needs to hear about your business, and go out and tell them!
About the Author: Adelaida Paponiu is the Sales Director (EMEA) at SmartDreamers, a recruitment marketing automation platform that helps companies engage with candidates across the web, powering up their employer brands and building brand gravity in the process. SmartDreamers was founded in 2014 and currently operates in Europe, the US and the APAC region.