How to Find the Best Sales Candidates

“How can you help us find the best salesperson”? As a sales recruiter with more than 25 years’ experience, I can tell you there is only one sure way to guarantee to find the best available salesperson in the market and that is search or headhunting.

Let me explain; there are essentially just 3 ways in which any company, large or small can recruit:

You can find candidates through a CV database

You can advertise your role with paid media

You can head hunt, proactively approaching candidates – “Search”

  1. CV Database

Candidate databases of one form or another are typically maintained by a range of recruiters as well as, increasingly these days, by more and more employers and of course there are networking sites such as LinkedIn which provides a useful database,

Databases are at their most useful when looking out for the “competent” type of salesperson, relatively low risk/but limited potential; the very best salespeople will rarely show up on databases and on the odd occasion that they do, they rarely stick around on the books of a recruiter for very long.

Ask yourself, ‘How did this salesperson happen to show up on the recruiter’s database in the first place?’ What role were they pursuing initially and apparently, unsuccessfully since they are still looking today, that brought them to the attention of the recruiter? Not that this necessarily makes them a bad or less relevant candidate, but do you really want to hire someone else’s second or third best?

I have twenty thousand salespeople on my iPhone or stored in the cloud, all of them accessible from almost anywhere in the world? Why you might ask would I choose to do this after what I have said about Databases at the outset? The answer is simple, a database in the right hands provides a useful route through which the very best candidates might be identified and accessed through the effective networking of the most relevant contacts within that database. Networking works!

  1. Paid Advertising

Despite the enormous rise of social media platforms, recruitment advertising is still one of the more effective tools in the recruiter’s toolbox.

Today, instead of paying a lot of money for a ¼ page ad’ in a national newspaper, a short, sharp and sometimes rather pithy call to action delivered via a social networking site may well yield as many prospective candidates. The trick is knowing how best to write it and where best to place it!

Advertising is of course a passive medium. If your desired candidate is not even looking for a new job or just happens to miss the beautifully written post, then time is lost. In fact, the best salespeople are rarely looking for work – why would they? They have their own network and know how to work it!

  1. Headhunting

And then we come to Method 3, Headhunting. Properly applied there is no substitute for it. You might be the best networker or even be the best recruitment advertising copy writer. But, unless you have the skill, knowledge and credibility to first find and then to approach the very sales talent, then even your best efforts could still never guarantee that you will bring your opportunity to the attention of the very best candidate “in the market” rather than those who just happen to find themselves “on the market”.

Simply, that is what the head hunter will do for you and in an intensively competitive market where points of differentiation between companies are slight, why would you not work to make sure that you hired the very best?

So are you going to adopt the passive approach and just wait to see what reasonably talented salesperson bits on your job posts or are you going to strive to recruit the best?

The incremental additional cost of hiring a competent head hunter to proactively go out and find your candidate pale into insignificance when put along the business advantage gained by hiring the very best salesperson.