Having the right, high-calibre sales and sales leadership talent in place is critical to seeing through proactive sales strategies. Getting the talent piece wrong will cost you in more ways than one.
Sales Talent Sourcing
Raise the talent bar
Most sub-200 headcount B2B companies are reactive hirers and default to traditional, low-cost/low-reach/quick-turnaround recruitment methods when needs arise.
Though employee referrals, job boards, contingent recruiters and the like can be effective at times, these generally access a small fraction of the market, and deliver mainly B and C-grade talent.
Breaking the cycle of low-impact hires, lack-lustre sales and slow business growth requires A-grade sales talent. And they need to be methodically sought out and engaged – for most companies, it takes time, effort and skill to get them to the hiring table.
What completing 1,000+ talent searches has consistently shown
In most ANZ B2B markets, there are typically 100 or so individuals with the necessary experience to be a potential match for any given role. Of that pool, 20 or so will be A-grade.
Of that pool, at any given time, five (or less) tend to have the combined ability, culture fit and motivation to fully align.
To field your most competitive sales team, you need to proactively engage the entire market to find these few, every time you recruit. These are the “best fit” hires who make a transformational impact on business.
It’s an investment but the alternative will cost you more
Proactive sales organisations do not settle for less than best-fit, A-grade sales and sales leadership talent.
They are happy to engage specialist search firms and pay above-market salaries to secure these difference-makers because they appreciate the positive cultural impacts, time savings, competitive advantages and financial returns they bring are exponential – often delivering 2-3x revenue of lesser-fit talent.
They’re also keenly aware that not doing so puts their competitive standing, growth timelines, company morale and investments in other areas of the business at significant risk.
Sales Talent Selection
A-grade sales talent excel in interviews.
Well researched, and with a history of longevity, achievement and promotion behind them, they can:
- Easily share sales results vs targets over the past 3+ years
- Speak in detail about prospecting and pipeline management metrics
- Talk in-depth about your market, past wins and where they see opportunities
- Evidence their success claims and provide credible references
- Expertly qualify your business objectives and how they can help
They’ll also ask challenging questions to ensure it’s the right move for everyone.
However, top sales employers are careful not to get caught up in positive impressions. To separate “best fit” talent, they dig deeper into prior experience, personality traits and career motivations and look for strong alignments across all three to the opportunity on offer.
Prior Experience – Other Insights
- Sales Targets – similar size, frequency
- Client Base – relevant markets, decision makers, influencers, transferable relationships, etc.
- Deal Values – similar range handled comfortably, especially at top-end
- Sales Cycles Managed – similar stages, points of influence, timeframes, sales approach (transactional vs solution)
- Sales Processes Managed – similar core KPIs worked to; % accounts given; % self-generated leads delivered; % own quotes/tenders completed; etc.
- Size of Territory Managed – used to similar call plans, travel requirements
- Technology – familiarity with CRM and other key tools used
- Technical / Industry knowledge
- For Sales Leaders – Size and Composition of Sales Teams Managed; Management Style and People Development approach etc.
Soft Skills + Culture Fit
To get a more accurate gauge on hard-wired personality traits and any gaps in alignment to the role and culture, top sales employers incorporate aptitude and personality assessments in their selection process, along with informal / off-site meetings and deeper questioning.
Where in their careers were they the most successful, happy, fulfilled?Why? What was surrounding them at the time?
- Size of company
- Stage of company
- Culture of company
- Size of team
- Type and scope of role
- Sales processes managed
- Style of manager
- Level of autonomy given
If it’s sounding similar, it’s more likely they’ll enjoy the same success, happiness and fit in your business.
And why do they want this?
For best-fit talent, this is much more than a job to be won. It’s a uniquely aligned career move at just the right time. A rare opportunity to maximise impact, growth potential, earning potential and career satisfaction in a business with mutual values and ambitions.
Top sales and sales leadership talent won’t move (and stay) for less.
Sales Talent Conversion
Winning preferred candidates
Having strong sales strategies, operations, leadership and talent in place enables proactive sales organisations to remain “sales hire ready” – capable of attracting, supporting and retaining A-grade sales and sales leadership talent.
They also appreciate securing top passive talent requires a different approach and design their interview processes accordingly.
They buy-in differently
Top passive talent are open to exploring select opportunities but are unlikely to jump through hoops early-on and are not quick to leave stable, well-paying positions.
To convert preferred candidates, a structured but flexible interview process that makes a positive impression and enables interest to build over time is required.
- Are accommodating early on with interviews times, locations, CVs, etc.
- Change their mindset from interview to business meeting
- Approach preferred candidates like prospective clients
- Speak directly and encourage open dialogue, tough questions, etc.
- Have a compelling company story, vision and position overview to share
- Formally document and share bonus schemes, career paths, L&D opportunities, case studies / point of difference claims, growth plans, investments made, etc. to back up talk and demonstrate they’re serious
- Keep momentum, act decisively and make competitive offers
A sense of purpose and urgency
A-grade sales professionals operate with confidence, purpose and urgency and seek out employers on a common mission who do the same.
How authentically this connection occurs during the interview process, especially with the hiring manager and CEO, often makes the difference in winning top talent.
ReillyScott helps B2B companies drive sales growth through a mix of specialist recruitment and consulting.
www.reillyscott.com.au | 1300 160 007