How to Recruit New Salespeople

By Butch Bellah

As a new sales manager, try thinking of hiring new salespeople in the same way as sports teams do. When a sports team look to bring in a new short stop or a quarterback, they don’t put an ad in the newspaper, do they? No, they scout out players they want. So, why can’t you find the person you want instead of letting the person find you?

You can. You must make soliciting candidates part of your hiring process. Don’t just place ads and wait for people to come to you, spend a certain amount of your resources recruiting and soliciting candidates you identify as ones you’d like to talk to.

Although it’s easy to go out and poach someone from a competitor, that’s not always the best idea. If your competitor is willing to let someone go, he may not be worth having. Don’t think just because a salesperson comes from the competition he’s going to be an asset that adds lots of new business. Many times these job-hoppers are just looking for a place to cash their next paycheck.

If you place ads either in newspapers or online, create a company profile on LinkedIn and searching for applicants there. Look through the professional groups that align with the type of person you’re looking for; see who’s engaged in good conversation on there. You don’t have to pounce on day one, just lurk a bit and see who draws your attention.

LinkedIn (and other online forums) have groups and subgroups where professional people gravitate to discuss business and some of the challenges they face.

At the same time, visit some business mixers or organizations you targeted as a guest — look around and ask yourself, “Who in this room would I like to have representing my company?” Is that pretty simple? Uh, yeah! But, too many times hiring managers or HR directors want to make finding talent harder than it has to be.

Here’s the key to finding good employees: Approach and look for people who are working. Introduce yourself (or have your HR department get in touch with them) to see whether the people you’re interested in are interested in talking to you about your opportunity.

This is all designed to eliminate the people who have no business applying for the job in the first place as soon as possible.

Never, never, never give your phone number to jobseekers. They will drive you nuts — trust me.

One more approach is to ask your top performers who they know outside of work. Do they know someone they think would make a productive member of your organization? Birds of a feather flock together, and if you have a superstar salesperson, he doesn’t spend his free time with non-superstars.

Depending on your industry you may have luck with headhunters or employment agencies. Talk to others within your organization or perhaps industry peers and find out who specializes in your field.

Finally, don’t settle. Don’t let yourself get into a situation where you settle for less than your ideal candidate. Good people are out there; you just have to find them. You’re going to get frustrated, you’re going to get tired, you’ll read so many applications you’ll see them in your sleep, but hold your ground. Your next superstar is out there, and the reason he’s hard to find is the same reason you want him!

Remember, you have to move a lot of dirt to find a diamond, but you don’t go looking for the dirt!