Ask any sales executive about recruiting top-producing salespeople and you’ll often hear the same lament; the real challenge is just finding qualified candidates to interview. There are plenty of B-players out there, but finding A-players – the true sales professionals who consistently achieve their quota quarter after quarter – is not easy.
If, as a sales operations professional, you are involved in your company’s recruitment process, you are then faced with the task of figuring out how best to attract the right sales talent. A good place to begin your search is to take a look at your recruitment advertisements. Put yourself in the position of a top producing salesperson who is considering moving on to your next career opportunity, then read your ads and ask yourself these questions:
- Does your advertisement tell you why this is a good opportunity?
- Does it answer the question, “Why would I want to work at this company?”
- In short, does it pass the “What’s in it for me?” test?
If your answer is “yes” to all of these questions, you can stop reading; if your answer is “no,” you might want to read on.
It’s worthwhile to think of your recruitment ad as you would a billboard on the side of the highway. A billboard needs to attract drivers’ attention while they are simultaneously driving at 65 miles per hour concentrating on traffic and their driving. Similarly, your ad needs to get the attention of top-producing sales professionals who are scanning for the best jobs.
Try this. Randomly select five ads for sales positions posted on your favorite job board and put them to the test we outlined above. Here are the opening lines of five ads I selected at random:
- “We are looking for an experienced sales representative with a successful record of achievement to develop and to build relationships with key educational, Federal and State accounts and agencies.”
- “Establish, maintain, enhance, and update ABC Company sales environments and their associated data and configurations.”
- “ABC Company, the leading presentation agency, is searching for a bright Inside Sales Representative to work as an important member of the sales team by identifying leads, qualifying them, and scheduling meetings between decision-makers and our Account Executives.”
- “Purpose: To develop and maintain strong business relationships with assigned accounts, recruit new accounts, and educate consumers.”
- “A field sales representative with ABC Company is responsible for the sale of electronic components and custom solutions to original equipment manufacturers (OEM’s)”
Notice that none of these openings pass the “What’s in it for me?” test. It’s not surprising that neither did the rest of the copy.
What each of these ads fails to do is sell the benefits of working at the hiring company. Consider the intended audience: top-tier sales professionals (why would you want to hire any other kind?). These people know they are valuable and only want to work at a company that’s going to make it possible for them to be successful. Even in a soft economy, good sales professionals are in demand and need to be attracted by compelling ads.
Below are two examples of recruitment ads that pass the test by grabbing the attention of potential candidates. Using a section called “Why this is a Great Opportunity,” these ads each give a clear set of reasons to apply.
Why this is a Great Opportunity:
- Unique and valuable product offering with clear competitive advantages
- Growing, profitable company with opportunities for career advancement
- Management appreciates and recognizes sales team members’ accomplishments
- A lead generation engine that delivers well-qualified sales leads
- Excellent, experienced sales support staff
- Product management team that is attuned to the needs of the market and delivers what it wants
Why This is a Great Opportunity:
- You will be handed quality leads on day one
- You will represent a leading edge offering that can solve a wide variety of business problems
- The company has extraordinarily strong partner relationships and the highest-level certifications with Microsoft and IBM
- Company sales leaders have an unparalleled track record of success; they know how to build top-producing sales organizations
- Leading edge sales support and automation will give you the tools you need to succeed
- Strong customer referral network
To make this strategy relevant for your company’s recruitment ads, simply ask your first line sales managers, “Why would a top producing sales professional want to work at our company?” Then, ask your front-line sales personnel why they enjoy working there. Record their answers and start incorporating them into your recruitment ads.
Refine your recruitment ads to pass the “What’s in it for me?” test and be sure to clearly articulate the value of working at your company. Do this and you’ll soon find the quality of your candidates improving. Once you’ve started attracting top candidates, you’ll have taken an important first step toward building a winning sales team.
For a more in-depth discussion of building a winning sales team, we invite you to download a Sales Productivity Blueprint on the topic at the Sales Productivity Architects web site.