Finding top sales talent is not a battle — it’s a war. Consider Axon, the Seattle-based business that bought Teslas for new employees to incentivize interest in their company. While extreme, this shows the need to differentiate your company to attract and retain top talent.
This means discovering candidates who not only align with the culture that you work so hard to create, but who can also bring in revenue. So, what are some of the top-of-funnel things that you can do to find the best candidates and make sure they choose you? Here are 3 crucial steps.
1. Limit Your Wish List
We all want a salesperson that crushes their quota, knows the exact sales methodology that your company uses, is an expert in your industry, has great charisma, can hit the ground running without training on day 1 and accepts the compensation package that your company is offering. Unfortunately, unicorns are difficult to find.
It’s great to have high expectations for people you want to bring in. However, it’s important to find a balance between reality and excellence. Therefore, it’s really important to focus on three main skills (once you’ve found a solid resume) that you are looking for so that you are not diminishing your chances of finding great talent. A great start for defining those three main skills is looking at your company values.
Here are examples of core values from successful tech companies in the Silicon Valley and how they could potentially fit into your wish list:
Critical Thinking: This is pretty self-explanatory. However, if you want a little extra push on how to identify if someone is a critical thinker you can use the following habits explained in the Eight Habits of Effective Critical Thinkers.
– Candidate is more concerned about getting it right than being right
– Candidate avoids jumping to conclusions and rushing to judgment
– Candidate does not accept information at face value
– Candidate avoids over-analysis which leads to paralysis in decision making
– Candidate is a continuous learner and works to stay well informed
– Candidate shows willingness to consider alternative ideas and opinions
– Candidate uses critical thinking on him or herself
– Candidate has a distinctive behavioral style
“Don’t be Evil:” This is one of Google’s well known core values. What they mean is that they are looking for someone who will put long-term gains and user satisfaction above short term profits. In a nutshell, it’s to check someone’s “moral compass.” The way around digging deeper into this is by asking interview questions like, “Describe a situation where you did not agree with what the outcome was and what you did about it.”
Passion: When you bring in a candidate, you want someone who is so passionate about what they do that it becomes infectious to others around them. This is someone who gets excited about celebrating their own wins as well as others, and is someone who always strives for excellence. You can dig deeper into someone’s passion by asking them to share something that they really care about and having them explain it to you.
2. Send Effective Recruiting Emails
Salespeople receive an overwhelming number of emails from recruiters. Make sure your first one is memorable so that they do not ignore all future emails from you. Whether you are using your work email or social media to reach out, keep the following in mind:
Keep it vague. The second you put the position in your first outreach email, you will decrease the response rate because the candidate will feel pigeon-holed into that role. It’s also a possibility that their resume says one thing but in reality their job function is different. For example, industry standard for an AE is a salesperson that does the full sales cycle with help from BDRs and/or SDRs. However, some companies use this term for people in marketing, while others use it for account managers. Therefore, there is a certain degree of assumptions to be made based off a LinkedIn profile, but there is always more to the story.
Keep it short. Salespeople are high in demand and are probably receiving a dozen emails from recruiters and managers each week. The longer your outreach the higher the chances are that the rep will not read it. The average attention span is about 8 seconds, so make it count!
Customization. Make sure the subject line is customized. How many times do you see “High Growth Tech Company Looking for Sales” or “Best tech company to work for”? The more you can customize your outreach the higher your response rate. We’ve seen a 10% jump in response rates on LinkedIn when just the subject line is customized. Imagine the impact once the body is customized as well!
Timing. I’ve found the highest conversions to my outreach campaigns to be in the morning between 7am and 9am.
Be original. If you can have your CEO or VP of Sales send outreaches to key candidates it can really help jump the response rate. This not only shows how impressive the candidate’s background is because the CEO sent them an email directly, but also that senior leadership is really invested in bringing top talent into the company.
3. Remember That Finding a Good Match Goes Both Ways
We always talk about how the candidate needs to conduct themselves during the interview process. However, it’s also important to hold ourselves accountable as recruiters and managers to making the whole experience a positive one. This is not only about us finding our next sales superstar, this is also about the candidate finding their next dream workplace where they can not only utilize their current skills but grow as well.
Here are some of the ways that you can hold yourself accountable:
Be engaged even if it’s going south. It’s not uncommon for hiring managers to be disengaged during an interview when the candidate is not a good fit, but it’s important to remember that as a company you have a brand name and reputation to uphold (no one wants a negative Glassdoor review that can damage the company’s integrity). Therefore, still being engaged during the interview even though you realize the candidate might not be “the one” and providing constructive feedback when it’s over can help soften the blow and uphold a positive company perception.
Always give constructive feedback. 94% of talent wants to receive feedback after an interview, but only 41% have received interview feedback before. Whether it’s positive or negative, providing constructive feedback post-interview will help you stand out.
Don’t move meetings or be late. Candidates are typically interviewing with multiple companies at the same time. That one reschedule can result in them getting an offer with someone else – and the candidate accepting it, too.
For an amazing final touch: If you find your superstar candidate and give them an offer, have your team send the candidate a congratulations email expressing their excitement for them to join the team. This is a great way to make the candidate feel special. Bonus points: have your CEO or VP of Sales send one as well.
Don’t let the talent war discourage you. While hiring a good salesperson is practically as competitive as sales itself, following these three tips is sure to put you in a good spot.
And if you’re an amazing sales rep looking for your next opportunity, check out our careers page or drop me a line in the comments below – we’re hiring!