Step 1. Write a kick ass recruitment ad for a top producing sales professional
Surf the job boards as if you were looking for a sales position. Assess the recruitment ads that you read. Do they tell you why a top producing technology sales professional would be delighted to work at the company? Most don’t.
Make sure your recruitment ad answers the question, “Why should a top producer want to work here?”
Here are some examples:
- Significant annual compensation at goal
- Unique and defined competitive advantage
- Inside sales support
- Pre-qualified sales leads
- Excellent, experienced sales engineers
- Support team that is knowledgeable about the target vertical markets
- Customers who are raving fans and serve as great references for prospective customers to call
- Strong existing government contracts
- Comprehensive sales training programs regarding your products and services, target markets, and competition
- Proven ability to deliver what the sales team sells
- Ground floor position with opportunity for advancement – you will be one of our inaugural sales team members
You may be wondering whether top producers even look at recruitment ads. They do. Job boards are often the first place they go when pondering whether to step back into the market. They’re reading the writing on the wall and know their current position will be changing (e.g., a competitor is kicking butt, VP Sales turnover, new comp plan, territory reassignments). Rather than respond to a recruiter (top producers get calls all the time), it’s easier to be coy and surf the job boards to “see what’s out there.” Make your recruitment ad be the one they click.
Step 2. Write your position “sales presentation”
When speaking with candidates whose resumes appear to be a match to your needs, you only have a few seconds to “sell” the candidate on the position. What are you going to say?
Start with a compliment. Tell them what attracted you to them. What did you read on their resume or LinkedIn profile that made you want to call them? Flattery gets you everywhere, especially with top producing sales professionals.
Tell them why this could be an ideal position for them. Liberate some bullets from your newly designed recruitment ad and craft an opening sentence. For example, “Jim, I believe that we have an ideal sales position for you. We’ve got a huge market to go after with a compelling competitive advantage. This is a ground floor opportunity for someone with your track record. In addition to a stream of qualified sales leads, we’ve got a team of sales engineers who are second to none.”
Step 3. Move fast
Every smart sales manager wants to hire top producing sales professionals. So, when they become available, top producers are rarely obtainable for long.
Remember that you have competitors when it comes to recruiting top producers. You’re competing against all companies that may want to hire the same type of candidates you are trying to recruit—not just your direct competitors. For example, suppose your company sells molecular modeling software to scientists at universities. You might believe your competition for talent is the few other companies in the world that sell this type of software—not true. There are hundreds of sales executives at software companies who want to hire salespeople who have a track record of “selling complex applications to technical buyers.” Given the technical nature of selling molecular modeling software, you can bet that sales leaders at those companies will be vying for the same sales talent you are. The bottom line here is that you likely have more competition than you think.
Here’s how to move fast:
- Have a defined candidate sourcing, screening, and interviewing process ready to go
- Proactively reach out to candidates whose resumes look attractive, fast
- Move from phone screen, to in-person interviews, to offer letter rapidly; every day that passes is a day another smart sales manager may spot your candidate
- Make a decision – does this candidate’s competencies and prior experience match your “predefined” ideal candidate selection criteria?
Who is this guy and why does he know this?
As a sales consultant specializing in high growth technology companies, I’ve been observing how my clients attract and retain top producing sales professionals for over 20 years. Those who approach the hiring process as meticulously as they sell their company’s products, win the talent race.