The #1 Way to Find Top Producing Salespeople

AndyMillerToday’s post is by Andy Miller, CEO of Big Swift Kick, a sales consulting and performance firm that helps companies drive more deals. He is a Selling Power Top Consultant and Vistage top 50 speaker.

As you have probably noticed, the last 12 months have been a time of brutal competition for top sales talent. To win this competition, you must be strategic with your recruiting efforts. 

If you’re looking for the best candidates, don’t get lost in the usual listing services. There are – literally – hundreds of places where you can find the candidates you want.

We informally surveyed 200 sales managers and asked them where they found their best sales talent. Here is a rank order list of the best sources they reported:

  • Referred to us (externally or internally) (47%)
  • Worked for a competitor (14%)
  • Responded to online ad (12%)
  • Contacted directly by the sales candidate (9%)
  • Came from internal promotion (4%)
  • Worked for a supplier/service provider (3%)
  • Recruited from a university (3%)
  • Came from a customer (1%)

Notice the survey. The number one source of candidates is referrals at 47%. Analysis of 14 million job applicants by SilkRoad found similar results with 52% of hires coming from referrals and internal sources. 

Your sales team and other employees are a great resource for locating new sales talent. Create a robust sales-candidate referral program and offer incentives for referrals and for ultimate hires. Ask employees to talk about the opening on their social networks (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) To supercharge your candidate referral pipeline, you can also: 

  • Ask new employees for referrals during the onboarding process.
  • Create a contest for employees to compete for the most referrals.
  • Allow non-employees to refer candidates (clients, vendors, past employees, etc.).

Offer a finder’s fee but spread it out over time. For example: $50 for every applicant, $100 for every qualified short phone interview, $250 for each 1-hour video interview, $500 upon hiring, and $1000 after they pass the probation period or reach a specific objective.

You can also promote your job opening where your target applicants hang out online. Consider appropriate professional associations, meet-up groups, LinkedIn groups, Facebook communities, and other digital resources. We’re big fans of veteran resources—especially wounded warrior programs. 

In today’s market, “always be recruiting” to continuously attract top sales talent. Keep in mind:

  • Sales jobs have some of the highest churn rates of any position. 
  • With the “great resignation” happening in the United States and Europe, plan on creating a bench of potential hires.
  • Keep any great potential hires in your orbit. Add them to your social networks. Invite them to events. Send out email announcements to your potential list when you have openings.
  • Pay attention to your online reputation on sites like Glassdoor, because sales candidates will check you out before applying for a position. 

We had a client with two strong candidates both pull out late in the recruiting process because of some new complaints on Glassdoor. The client was going through some growing pains and didn’t keep an eye out for disgruntled employees. If they had, they could have preempted the negative postings or set proper expectations during the interview about the company’s growth and frustration. 

The bottom line is that finding top salespeople takes work. Be strategic in your efforts, always be recruiting, and leverage referrals as your best source! 

For more information on how to hire top performing salespeople click here to get your free Guide to Hiring Salespeople. If you want more secrets to hiring top performing salespeople that haven’t made it to the business world, order my book “The Science of Hiring Quota Busting Sales Teams”. It’s based upon 85 years of research by industrial psychologists and the data analytics of 2.1 million sales people.

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