Here’s Why 60% of Talented Sales Recruits Fail to Complete Their Application

Here’s the scenario. You create a job ad to find a top level salesperson. To achieve this, you design an application for candidates to fill out so you can gather key information and add them to your database. 

But after posting the ad, you’re underwhelmed by the response, and you don’t receive anywhere near the volume of candidates you were hoping for. 

This is an issue encountered by more sales companies than you may think. And one of the biggest reasons is because a good chunk of talented sales recruits simply don’t make it all the way through the application. In this post, I’ll unpack why this is so common and how you can avoid falling into this trap. 

What the Data Says

There’s one very specific reason why nearly two-thirds of job seekers don’t complete their applications. According to 2020 research by G2, “60% of job seekers quit in the middle of filling out online job applications because of their length or complexity.” 

It’s really that simple. Most people don’t want to deal with the hassle of painstakingly answering a gauntlet of questions and meticulously providing detail after detail. If this happens, many will end up abandoning the application and looking at other sales job opportunities. 

But why do so many brands ask for so much information?

The Logic Behind Lengthy Applications

There are two main reasons why sales recruiters use long applications. One is simply to gather as much information as possible on candidates so recruiters can learn all they can about their experience, qualifications, education, and so on. 

The other is to weed out lazy candidates who aren’t willing to complete a lengthy application. Conventional logic often states that top tier talent is dedicated enough to complete an application in its entirety, even if it’s long winded. 

“But, in reality, the opposite is true,” explains user research manager Sarah Gregory. “Good candidates know their time is important and they have plenty of opportunities in the job market. Their tolerance for jumping through hoops is much lower than many employers think.”

And this totally makes sense. Elite talent are acutely aware of how much value they bring to the table. Many never even end up performing a formal job search in the first place because recruiters come to them. But if they do fill out an application, most will feel frustrated if they’re barraged by seemingly never-ending questions and needless complexity. 

So in many cases, asking candidates to fill out lengthy applications may do more harm than good and cause you to miss out on high caliber salespeople. 

Finding the Sweet Spot

This isn’t to say you should go to the other extreme and ask too few questions, as this can lead to a flood of under qualified candidates. The takeaway here is that you want to ask enough questions to get adequate information and filter out low level candidates, but not ask so many questions that you turn off talented sales recruits. 

In other words, hit the sweet spot. This, of course, will likely require some trial-and-error before you get it just right. But if you’re finding you’re not getting the number of applicants you want — the average job ad receives 250 resumes, by the way — the application will likely need some condensing. 

Also, make it a point to simplify it so you’re not asking job seekers to jump through unnecessary hoops. 

Other Ways to Optimize the Job Application Process

Besides that, I have a few other suggestions on making the job application process more pleasant and user-friendly. 

One is to allow candidates to apply through LinkedIn. You can, for example, include an “Apply with LinkedIn” button to a job ad, which looks like this. 

Given that many people are already active on LinkedIn (there were more than 774 million users as of mid-2021), this can take a lot of friction out of the process. To learn how to set up an “Apply with LinkedIn” button, check out this resource

And if you’re using LinkedIn as one of your main channels for posting sales jobs, you may want to consider using the “Easy Apply” feature, which lets job seekers apply with just a few clicks. This is a feature I actually use myself. 

While it’s not always a great choice for high level positions like a sales manager, it’s certainly worth considering for many sales rep positions. 

Also, never require candidates to create an account in order to apply for a job. This is something that’s become increasingly common as of late, especially with larger enterprises. But it can be a huge deterrent to prospects and injects pointless friction into the process.  

Finally, don’t ask recruiters for references on the application unless you absolutely need it. “Why not wait to ask for references when you reach the offer stage?,” notes talent management expert Tiffani Murray. “You don’t need to add that information burden to candidates when a high percentage won’t make it to an offer.”

Eliminating Unnecessary Obstacles 

The numbers don’t lie. 60% of talented sales recruits abandon an application when it’s too long or complex. 

If you’re not getting the number of applicants you’d like, this is one of the first areas to investigate. By trimming off extraneous questions and generally simplifying the application, it should make for a better applicant experience and keep a steady stream of talent coming your way. 

Looking to fill your talent pipeline with top tier sales reps? See how HireDNA can help using science-based assessments and intelligent matching. Companies that use our suggestions have a very high success rate, with a staggering 92% of recommended candidates reaching the top of the sales force within their first year. 

Sales Jobs Are in Demand, But Talent is Limited: How to Thrive in the Current Sales Recruiting Climate

We’re at an interesting point in history. Sales jobs have surged as the world recovers from COVID, with many paying quite well. But companies can’t seem to find enough young talent to fill open positions. 

Why is that?

In this post, I’ll fully unpack this phenomenon, explaining how the demand for sales jobs has increased, why recent grads are hesitant to become salespeople, and what you can do to make your company a more appealing place to work at. 

The Demand for Salespeople is High…

Let’s jump right into the data. Recent research found sales roles have shot up by a staggering 65% in 2021, totaling around 700,000 positions in the US alone. After huge layoffs at the start of the pandemic in mid-2020, sales jobs are definitely back, which is illustrated by this graphic. 

It should also be noted that many sales reps make good money. According to data from the US Department of Labor, those selling technical and scientific products earned over $108,000 in 2020

Companies are in dire need of talented salespeople, and this isn’t a trend that’s likely to slow down any time soon. As more and more people become vaccinated and with interest rates being slashed in many countries like the US, this has led to rapid economic growth across much of the world. 

Just check out this graph from the BBC that shows how the Dow Jones and other major stock market indexes have quickly climbed since the first vaccine was announced. 

Combine that with stimulus checks and the fact that many people have resumed their pre-COVID buying habits, it creates a climate where sales jobs are very much in demand. In fact, it’s arguably easier to land a position as a salesperson than it’s been in recent history. 

…But New Grads Are Reluctant to Get Into Sales

What’s interesting, however, is that companies are really struggling to fill these positions. There  seems to be a new sentiment among new grads where they’re just not as inclined to become salespeople as previous generations have been in years past. 

And it boils down to one main reason. Young talent largely equates this profession to working as a “sleazy used car salesman.” 

In an article on The Wall Street Journal, business education reporter Thomas Patrick articulates it perfectly saying, “Many young workers assume that sales work means convincing customers to buy with high-pressure sales tactics, and are turned off.” In other words, there’s the lingering perception for many recent grads that they’ll be burned out sitting behind a desk, cold calling leads all day, and trying to clobber them over the head to buy. 

That mental imprint is understandably a little cringy, so it’s easy to see why many companies are having so much difficulty assembling sales teams. The question is, how should you respond to this?

How to Appeal to Top Talent in the Current Sales Recruiting Climate

First, you need to understand the paradigm shift that’s happened in the sales world as of late. “Sales has dramatically changed in recent years, shifting from cold calls to potential customers to consulting with companies that often seek out products,” says Patrick. 

One term I use frequently is trusted advisor, where leads are far more receptive to salespeople they view as a consultant who’s there to help them find the right fit, rather than someone who’s merely trying to get the quick sale and jam products down their throat. Research has even found 88% of leads buy when a rep assumes the position of trusted advisor. 

So that’s the approach I recommend most companies take, as it aligns with the new era of customer empowerment, helps quickly build trust, and is simply more effective than outdated high-pressure sales tactics. 

Second, you need to let applicants know this is the approach you take. “Changes in sales accelerated during the pandemic, and businesses are trying to entice more people into the job by demonstrating that they don’t have to operate in a pressure-cooker environment (or work the phones) the way sales workers once did,” Patrick adds. 

I personally recommend making specific mention to this in your job description, letting potential applicants know they’ll take a more consultative role rather than a hyper-aggressive one. It’s also smart to work elements of this philosophy into the “about us” section of your website. This kills two birds with one stone because it should make your company more appealing to salespeople as well as leads who are considering buying from you. 

Lastly, focus on finding salespeople with legit selling skills and who exhibit signs of curiosity and empathy rather than those who simply have a ton of industry/product experience. This is something I covered extensively in another post that you can read about here. Given that not many people intentionally target sales as a career while they’re in college, but rather often fall into it, some of the best and brightest may not have extensive experience in your industry or selling your product. 

That’s why I recommend looking for people with the key traits I just mentioned, as well as others like ambition, tenacity, and initiative. Remember that you can always train someone on products, but you can’t teach “the it factor.”

Adapting to the Current Sales Recruiting Climate

Despite exploding job opportunities and solid salaries, there’s a reluctance among most young talent to get into sales. Something that’s mainly due to the perception of old school, hard-nosed sales tactics. But this is something your company should be able to overcome by taking a more consultative approach and seeking candidates that possess the relevant characteristics. 

Want to streamline your sales recruiting and find A+ talent without all the drama? See how HireDNA can help you find top-tier candidates using science-based assessments and intelligent matching. 

Everything You Need to Know About the Sales Candidate Experience

You hear a lot about customer experience in the sales world. Mountains of data and heaps of money are constantly being thrown at improving the customer experience. And rightfully so. It’s incredibly important. 

But another important experience that doesn’t receive anywhere near the same amount of attention is the sales candidate experience. It definitely should, however. 

In this post, I’ll explain what the sales candidate experience is, why it’s vital, the consequences of having a sub-par sales candidate experience, and how to improve your company’s approach in this area. Let’s jump right in. 

What Exactly is a Sales Candidate Experience?

It’s “the series of interactions that a job seeker has with your company throughout the recruiting process,” writes Toolbox. “These interactions include any communication that a candidate receives from your brand messaging, software systems, and/or employees.”

This can include everything from visiting your company website and filling out the job application to communication with HR team members and the actual interview. The sales candidate experience is what gives prospective salespeople their first impression of your company, heavily impacts how they perceive you, and factors into whether or not top candidates ultimately accept the offer. 

As a result, I can’t stress enough how important this aspect of sales recruiting is. 

Why You Need a Positive Sales Candidate Experience

Here are a few key stats that put things into perspective. 

  • “59% of candidates abandon a job application due to bugs, issues, or complexity of process.”
  • “42% of candidates with a negative experience won’t reapply to your company.”
  • “65% of candidates with a negative experience share them with their inner circles and publicly online.”
  • “38% of candidates who are satisfied with their candidate experience are more likely to accept a job offer.”

This data tells us that nearly 6 out of 10 sales candidates will ditch a job application if they encounter glitches or it’s too complicated. And that’s alarming given that 56% of sales candidates have encountered technical issues when applying for a job. 

That means you could potentially lose out on A+ salespeople because of issues with the job application process. 

It also shows that a negative experience will prevent more than 4 out of 10 candidates from ever reapplying and that 65% of people will share their poor experience with others. With the rapid rate at which negative publicity can spread on social media and other digital outlets, this can be a major blow to your brand equity. 

And if enough of it is spread around, it can erode the very foundation of your company where hardly anyone wants to work for you. 

On the other end of the spectrum, nearly 4 out of 10 sales candidates who have a positive experience will likely accept a job offer. So, if you have a smooth, streamlined job application, maintain good communication, respect the time of sales candidates, and so on, you’re far more likely to land the rockstars you really want. 

Besides that, 82.4% of those candidates are likely or very likely to share their positive experience with others. 

This is tangible proof of how critically important having a positive sales candidate experience is. Not only does it affect immediate hiring, it can directly impact the longevity of your business. 

For more details, I suggest reading this whitepaper by talent analytics platform, Talentgy. It features the data I’ve included, plus much more to really give you a sense of how crucial the sales candidate experience truly is. 

How to Improve in This Area

Here are some practical tips to start transforming your sales recruiting process today:

  • Optimize your website – This is often the first place sales candidates get a feel for your company and what you’re all about. So you want to ensure it looks great and they can easily find relevant information to assist them during the job application process. “Make it easy, and make it enticing! Ask yourself, ‘Is this something I’d want to take action on or find intriguing,” writes startup consultant Amy Volas.
  • Narrow down your list of candidates to the best of the best as soon as you can – This should ensure your HR team can devote more time to each candidate, not waste the time of those who don’t make the cut, and improve overall communication. A sales recruiting platform like HireDNA can help dramatically with this. 
  • Make your interview as simple and streamlined as possible – One of the most common points of friction is the interview. For example, asking extraneous questions, making it too long, or having multiple rounds of interviews when only one is necessary can be problematic. Make it a point to reduce complexities, and always look for ways to refine interviewing as you gain more insights. 
  • Be transparent throughout the entire process – Give sales candidates a timeline so they know what to expect when first reaching out to them, provide them with ongoing feedback (e.g. “You’ve been shortlisted to our list of top candidates”), and let them know upfront if you’ve chosen to move on with someone else. 
  • Equip new hires with the tools for success – Make onboarding simple and intuitive so new sales reps can get up-to-speed quickly without unnecessary headaches. This other post I wrote about new salesperson onboarding should be helpful here. 

Getting Your Sales Candidate Experience Where it Needs to Be

I see a lot of brands treating the sales candidate experience as an afterthought. But that’s a grave mistake. As we’ve just learned, it factors heavily into whether or not candidates complete the job application, the perception they have of your company, how likely qualified candidates are to accept a job offer, and your overall brand equity. 

So, the sales candidate experience is something you’ll want to be diligent about continually improving. 

Want to hire better sales talent, faster? See how HireDNA can help. 92% of recommended candidates are top achievers within their first year.