3 Easy Ways to Increase the Quality of Your Sales Candidates

I like to think of the beginning of the year as a second holiday for recruiters. The office is buzzing, we’re about to receive budgets, new headcount, and we are eager for a fresh start. To kick off the year in sales recruiting, you’re calibrating with hiring managers, learning about their ideal sales candidate and starting to build your plan to find those purple squirrels. With that in mind, here are three ways to increase the quality of your volume sales recruiting:

 

Swipe right. Always.

Employee referrals tend to be one of the biggest source of hires for companies who are scaling their sales force. When a current employee is talking up their current employer to their friend, it’s natural for enthusiasm for the role to build in the prospective candidate. From the recruiter’s standpoint, you can go into a phone screen knowing the candidates have been briefed about the role by the referrer.

Problem: Your referral program is lacking candidates.

Solution: Encourage social media branding and keep your program top of mind while making your goals – theirs.

There is only so far we can go in carrying our message, which is why I encourage our new sales reps to update their social media profiles outside of LinkedIn. I do this by casually reminding them that they get a referral bonus if they submit someone who gets hired, regardless of where the conversation originated.

I’ve seen candidates submitted whose interactions started on Facebook, Snapchat and a curious uptick from Tinder. You smirk, but some of these candidates were great because they had such enthusiasm for joining our company that they put love on hold to connect with people who work for us to get referred. I can’t tell you how many times in the past year a referral was submitted because a referee “swiped right” on one of our employees due to their role at our company. Yes, I can, at least once a month.

That being said, keeping your referral program top of mind for your sales employees is key to keeping a consistent flow of candidates. But from their perspective, it’s very easy for an email that doesn’t help them make money have an automatic spot in the trash. One way to keep salespeople engaged in keeping an eye out for referrals is to make your goals – theirs. I found that referrals would spike every time an email went out updating the office on “our” now reduced number. By doing this, sales people tend to take ownership of the goal and strive to achieve it as if it’s a quota of their own.

Hey Team,

Listen, we have two spots left to complete our sales hiring goals for 2016. I imagine a countdown, and in 2017, an award-winning movie begins that features all of you guys (and your referrals) smashing your quotas. It’s going to be brilliant.

But before that happens, think long and hard about people you know that would be a GREAT fit in sales here. We are continuing to hire people who are just as driven to be successful as you are. PLUS you get a great referral bonus if they’re hired!

As always, feel free reach out to me if you have any questions.

 

Expect the Unexpected

Here’s how the conversation of the most surprising sales candidate given to me by a sourcer went:

Sourcer: Okay SO,

(My internal dialogue, ‘ugh…here it comes’)

Sourcer: …this candidate has no sales experience and their most recent job title is “cafeteria worker” BUT…

In volume sales recruiting, where the hiring managers set the blueprint of the “ideal sales candidate,” it’s easy to fall into the trap and stagnation of targeting specific companies, backgrounds and accomplishments day in and day out. Of course, recruiters and sourcers alike take most pride in finding the diamond in the rough, purple squirrel or whatever original fictional name you use. But to find those candidates we have to think outside the box, which can lead to candidates being passed along who fall way outside the lines of expectations.

The Problem: The candidates I’m receiving from agency recruiters (or internal sourcers) are nowhere near what we’re looking for.

The Solution: Raise the level of expectation for candidates being sent to you in anticipation of your recruiter thinking outside of the box.

The agency/recruiter or sourcer/recruiter relationship is built to bring in more quantity of quality for an interview through relaying the hiring manager’s expectations. By creating a smaller box inside the box was given to you, or rather raising the expectations of submitted candidates, you’re controlling the quality of candidates being sent to you. Through this, it’s a lot easier for you to accept a phone screen with an “Okay…BUT” candidate, having faith that the candidate will more than likely have qualities that fall within the hiring manager’s lines of expectations.

Oh, and the ‘cafeteria worker’ candidate was stellar.

 

So you DON’T want to eat Thai/Russian fusion?

One of the bigger discussions for “date night” in our household is where or what we are eating for dinner. I found out pretty quickly that this could last way longer than needed; I mean, we’re going where my wife wants to, why try and fight it. So instead of asking WHAT my wife wants, I typically lead with, “what do you NOT want to eat?”

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In volume sales recruiting, I’ve seen companies take the approach of ushering in as many interviews as possible, so long as the candidate meets certain criteria and hope they stick long term as a sales rep. One of the noticeable results in this type of sales recruiting is an uptick in turnover. When you focus on filling seats with warm bodies, your sales people tend to lose sight of the company’s vision when their desk is next to a revolving door.

 Problem: The candidates are not interviewing well and if they are, they aren’t staying long.

 Solution: Knowing what your candidate DOESN’T want is needed to “sell the story.”

One of the best pieces of advice I received when I first started in volume sales recruiting came when I asked my manager at the time, what skill they saw in “great” recruiters.

“Someone who can sell the story.”

This hit me like a ton of bricks because as a personal oath I never wanted to deceive someone into taking a role because I sold them on a story. At the time, I was focused on the candidate’s resume, or rather where they had been, as opposed to where they wanted to go. Like myself, she had held a consultative sales position in the past and as she elaborated, for one to ‘sell the story,’ you have to understand what the candidate’s needs and desires are first.

So I implemented what I found to be the quickest way from point A to B is to eliminate what the candidate DIDN’T want to do. Once I started implementing this question into every phone call I had, I was able to have more productive and frank conversations with my candidates. People I would have moved forward with based solely on their resume, now candidly told me they were ‘burnt out’ on cold calling or did not want to do “x” in the next step of their career. In full disclosure, you can then walk them through the good, bad and ugly aspects of the role. If their only response is that this job is exactly what they’re looking for, you can then begin to sell your company’s story. If the opposite is the case, then you’ve saved their time in not talking about a role they would hate and not be for very long. These conversations will allow you to identify candidates who are passionate about the aspects of the role, therefore producing a higher quality interview, hire, and longer-term employee. This ‘full disclosure’ approach will also give you the information needed to close the candidate at the end by pointing to what they said they want, don’t want and how your company fits into their plan.

 

What are some things you do to increase the quality of your sales candidates?

 

Note: this article does not in any way represent the thoughts, opinions, intentions, plans or strategies of my employer, or any other person or entity other than me.