When it is time to hire new salespeople, hiring managers often just dig up an outdated job posting and add it to the “Careers” section of their website. Later, during the interviews, they are surprised at the lack of qualified salespeople seated on the other side of their desk.
But to obtain great talent, you need to understand how to attract it. The job market contains copious amounts of “white noise”. These are the descriptions that do not garner attention or motivate the best candidates to apply.
1. Ask Your Sales Team
These people know better than anyone else in your company what it takes to succeed. They can tell you the traits you should look for in potential candidates and what level of experience they should have. Your current sales team can also reveal the kinds of knowledge and skills that would be helpful for the job. It is important to understand the profile of your most successful salespeople and use that to craft the job post description. Before you turn to outside sources, look in your own backyard to get the best feedback on writing a job posting for salespeople. Then, use a personal assessment tool like DISC to help you see what characteristics cause the top salespeople to stand out.
2. Get Feedback from Clients
Have the clients periodically fill out performance reviews for your salespeople. These can be just short lists of questions that request ratings on how your salespeople perform, with an “Additional Comments” section to let the clients add any extra information about improvements they would like to see. This gives your customers the chance to let you know which attributes your current sales team currently lacks.
Suggestions do not necessarily mean that a salesperson is failing to keep the client happy, but looking for constant areas of improvement helps your team develop a stronger bond with the client. Plus, these comments help you look for job candidates that have the requested skills.
3. Focus on Skills, Not Character
It is tempting to write a job description that mentions which character traits you want in a new salesperson. Words like “outgoing”, “self-starter”, and “charismatic” often appear on a sales job posting. The problem with focusing mainly on character traits is that many salespeople read the posting and immediately convince themselves that they have these traits, even if that is not the case.
If these traits are important to your sales team, keep them in mind during the interview. You will learn quickly when talking to the potential hire if they actually fit the character description. Outgoing people will not sit quietly through an interview, stumbling through their responses. Self-starters take initiative and can give you examples of how they successfully completed a previous project by demonstrating leadership abilities. Instead of letting job candidates tell you who they are, let them show you during the interview.
Write the job posting to highlight the skills and knowledge needed to perform the sales job. Discuss what technical knowledge, if any, that the salesperson will need to excel in the position. The more precise you can be in the posting, the better. Specific skill requirements weed out candidates that are not qualified and save you time in the hiring process.
4. Narrow Your Recruiting Pool
Think about where you place the job posting. While it obviously will be on the company website, what other outlets can you use to find the most qualified candidates?
A good way to find places to advertise for the job is to look at local companies that are similar in size and do not overlap into your industry. There are most likely dozens, if not hundreds, of businesses that are looking to hire salespeople. See where they place job postings and investigate the resources to see if they are a good fit for your posting.
One valuable source is LinkedIn, where you can see profiles for hundreds of sales professionals and find people that meet your hiring requirements. While not everything will be a perfect fit, you will find a few valuable hiring resources during your search.
5. Avoid Using Clichés in the Job Posting
Steer clear of clichés, such as “detail-oriented”, and mix it up by mentioning more direct and focused requirements. This prevents candidates from either feeling uninspired by your post or applying when they are not actually a good fit.
Don’t be afraid to ask a few questions in your job posting to qualify the most interested and capable candidates. For example, ask qualified applicants, “What makes you a great salesperson?”
Highly motivated employees will craft thorough and detailed answers to demonstrate their ability to solve problems in your industry. Those who do not respond to the question might have simply skimmed the job posting, revealing quite a bit about their “detail-orientation”.
6. Highlight What Makes Your Company Different from the Competition
Truly skilled salespeople are in high demand. If your industry is highly competitive, your company may be going up against other businesses to recruit top talent. Write your job posting with this in mind and include information that makes you stand out from your competitors. In essence, what makes your company different and better? Answering this question in the job posting may be enough to lure gifted salespeople away from your rivals and convince them that your company provides an excellent environment for salespeople.
7. Have Someone Else Proofread
After reading and rereading your job posting several times, you eventually will have trouble editing. Look for someone to review the posting that has an entirely different perspective or personality than you. Not every person that applies will be just like you, and sometimes having a coworker that views things in an opposing light read over the posting prevents you from deterring experienced candidates. Examine your coworker’s constructive criticism in to determine whether these changes can make your job posting better.
Hiring the right salespeople involves more than simply pasting a stagnate description on your website. Take your time and implement these changes to get responses from the best potential candidates. You cannot rush the hiring process when looking for great salespeople, but you can prevent time-wasting mistakes that dissuade talented sales professionals from applying. Follow these tips to write a posting that will attract highly skilled salespeople and find the perfect fit for the job.