5 Things You Must Get Right, Before You Recruit, to Secure the Best B2B Sales Talent

The success of your next B2B sales hire will be largely determined by the action you take in five key areas.

How well does your business attract, convert, support and retain high quality sales talent?

If you find yourself paying above market value for sales talent, overspending on recruitment fees or managing constant underperformance, you are not alone.

Factor into the mix on-boarding and training costs, lost sales opportunities, lost market share and delayed business growth, and the pain of not securing A-grade talent and setting them up for success quickly escalates.

In working with thousands of high quality sales professionals, ReillyScott has identified five key areas where even large, multi-national employers commonly fall short. 

#1 – The company story

Share a compelling story that personally engages target candidates.

Top level sales professionals, whether they are passive or active job seekers, are generally time poor and highly selective when it comes to exploring opportunities. A well-articulated, authentic and compelling company story that speaks to commonly sought-after employer traits will heighten the engagement of potential candidates. 

  • Communicate the company’s authentic journey to date – acknowledge known market perceptions (positive and negative) and provide honest explanations of any challenges relating to financial, cultural or competitive positioning.
  • Talk through the company’s purpose/vision/strategy – include detail relating to short, mid and long-term goals, realistic milestones and any resulting career advancement opportunities.
  • Promote the leadership team – focus on their personal and combined strengths, outline who they are, personality types, experience and the value they create for internal and external stakeholders.
  • Describe the sales team – include key people, size, structure, challenges, sales operations and culture. 
  • Focus on career opportunity –provide detail relating to real opportunities for career advancement, including realistic timelines and how career advancement will align with organisational growth. 

#2 – Presenting the opportunity

Focus on common “must-haves” for top sales talent when presenting the role.

There are a number of common prerequisites top sales talent look for when assessing a new career opportunity. 

  • The role has clear and realistic expectations – it’s vital that the role responsibilities and objectives are defined and everyone is on the same page regarding what needs to be achieved, by when and how success will be measured.
  • There’s an opportunity to make a significant and visible impact – the best sales people are those that operate with purpose. Articulate the key role the individual will play in realising the company’s overall sales strategy and growth targets.
  • It’s a great career move – with ample challenges, room to grow professionally over the next three years or more, and additional advancement prospects beyond.
  • A remuneration structure which reflects success –clearly articulating the remuneration and bonus structure is important, especiallywhen an uncapped bonus scheme, profit share and/or earned equity options are on offer. 
  • Their ideas and perspective are welcomed and valued –the ability to influence the overall direction of the team and wider business is engaging to top sales talent.

#3 – Sales operations

Establish formal sales operations and remove internal roadblocks to success.

Once you have engaged the interest of top sales talent, it is likely they will dig deeper to uncover potential road blocks to their personal success. 

To avoid being qualified-out by preferred candidates, focus on building a strong sales operation framework.

  • Sales processes must be efficient and well documented –all formal processes should focus on driving individual and team success without unnecessary effort or delay.
  • It is a team effort – all team members must be invested in creating success at a team level, while at the same time, supporting the personal achievement of colleagues.
  • The right technology – sales platforms including a modern CRM must support the ability for the team to operate at peak performance, and not present an administration burden.
  • Reporting metrics and requirements are clear – highlight reporting accountabilities which are non-negotiable but balance this with an open discussion in other areas (e.g. sales team meetings, territory plans, joint business plans, etc.).
  • Agreed bonus structure – details of the agreed bonus structure should be clear and easily-referenced so total annual earning potential can be realistically estimated.

#4 – The interview process

Design an interview process that converts passive talent.

Interviewing high quality passive sales talent is different. A structured but flexible interview process is imperative. The process must establish a positive impression and allow interest levels to build over time.

  • Appreciate the passive candidate perspective – while open to exploring specific opportunities, passive candidates are usually actively employed and therefore likely to disengage quickly if the process is inefficient.
  • Tailor your approach –you will need to carefully consider interview timing and location when scheduling meetings with passive candidates. It is also likely that resumes will not be up to date. Remain flexible in your approach.
  • Change your mindset –approach interviews with senior passive sales talent as you would a business meeting. Initial meetings with senior sales talent are often direct, purposeful, focused and productive.
  • Approach preferred candidates like prospective clients –do your research and address the candidate on both a personal and professional level to build deeper levels of engagement.
  • Encourage tough questions – you are dealing with high performing sales people, they are skilful qualifiers and will ask direct questions. They have a small window to determine their next career step.
  • Maintain momentum – avoid delays and indecisiveness. A well-conducted interview process should result in a confident hiring decision within weeks rather than months.

#5 – Support your claims

Be prepared to overcome scepticism.

Top passive sales talent have a healthy scepticism of claims made by prospective employers. To overcome this, build “proof points” into the recruitment process that support key elements of your offer and present a clear, organised and serious approach.

  • Create and share supporting assets – including detailed position descriptions, business plans, career advancement pathways, relevant marketing materials that detail product and service offerings, case studies, testimonials and a well articulated unique value proposition.
  • Present a documented commission, bonus and/or equity scheme –ensure all parties are on the same page with regard to remuneration and bonus structures prior to offer acceptance. Openly discuss any planned future activity that may influence change in this area. 
  • Involve appropriate team members in the interview process – including senior leaders of the business as well as colleagues or others in a similar position and encourage honest and open discussions.
  • Demonstrate the company’s financial situation – be as open and honest as you can. Not having a clear understanding of a prospective employer’s financial situation is a common, yet unspoken concern among passive talent, so providing assurance where possible will be viewed as a positive.
  • Bring preferred candidates into the bigger picture –where appropriate, involve preferred candidates in discussions about the future state of the team and business. Openly discuss challenges you are facing and gather their thoughts on future strategy and growth opportunities.

Sales Hire Ready

Focusing effort in the five key areas outlined will ensure you secure the best sales talent for your business.

Getting “sales hire ready” will fundamentally change the way you approach your B2B sales hiring process. Being “sales hire ready” sets you apart from your competition, allows you to attract a higher calibre of sales talent and, importantly, set all new employees up for long-term success.

When you are truly “sales hire ready” candidates will see:

  • An exciting company with a clear vision and mission
  • A competent and positive team with shared values and ambitions
  • A uniquely-relevant, challenging and high-impact role that supports career growth
  • A compelling value proposition
  • Strong sales structures in place that drive efficiency and maximise sales efforts
  • Increased earning and career advancement potential

The best passive sales and sales leadership talent won’t move for less. 

ReillyScott helps B2B companies drive sales growth through a mix of specialist recruitment and consulting.

www.reillyscott.com.au | 1300 160 007