Surefire Sales Recruitment Strategies to Combat Talent Shortages

Google the phrase “talent shortage” and you get nearly 32 million results. It’s a serious problem that’s plaguing countless industries, with sales feeling the full impact. 

“Close to three-fourths (73.9%) of employers say there are, ‘too few qualified candidates,’” explains Michael Guta of Small Business Trends. Moreover, “77% expect a shortage of applicants in the coming year for qualified applicants.”

This is a topic I addressed in a recent post where I mentioned that sales jobs are in high demand, but talent is limited. I also briefly touched on how you can appeal to top talent in the current sales recruiting climate, but I’d like to elaborate on that more in this post. 

So on that note, here are some surefire sales recruitment strategies to help you overcome talent shortages and ensure you have a winning team of professionals. 

Start By Promoting In-House

While this won’t necessarily be viable for all companies, it’s definitely an option for some. If you’re looking to fill a high-level role such as an account manager, it may make sense to promote a salesperson from within who’s been with you for a while and who is vetted rather than looking externally. 

This kills two birds with one stone because it A) gives you instant access to talent where there’s built-in rapport and B) many salespeople will appreciate having the opportunity for career development. Promoting from within has proven to be an effective way to boost staff loyalty and increase retention. In fact, one study found employees who were promoted internally within three years of being hired had a 70% chance of remaining with their company, while those who were not only had a 45% chance of staying. 

So promoting in-house can be a good starting point for combatting talent shortages. 

Adjust Your Hiring Criteria

One trap I see many sales recruiters fall into is using the same narrow set criteria to find sales candidates that they always have. In my other post, for example, I mentioned how a lot of recruiters still focus solely on finding candidates with extensive industry/product experience. They’re reluctant, however, to give someone a chance who lacks this formal experience but shows signs of great promise.  

I’m personally a proponent of hiring salespeople that possess core selling comptentices, such as desire, motivation, and coachability, even if they don’t have a ton of direct industry/product experience. And I think taking this approach can pay dividends for many sales recruiters because it’s a great way to find some of the best and brightest sales reps — especially younger ones that are just coming out of college. 

While you don’t want to hire just anyone off the streets, now is the time to adjust your hiring criteria if it’s gotten too rigid and outdated. Keeping an open mind and being willing to give someone an opportunity can have a huge payoff.

Double Down on Remote Work

Having at least a partially remote salesforce is nothing new and something many companies have embraced in some capacity, especially in the SaaS industry. But if you’re continually struggling to find talent, remote work is something you’ll want to focus on more intently. There are three main reasons why. 

  1. A larger talent pool – If you’re only hiring salespeople to work in-house at a brick-and-mortar office, you have a small talent pool of individuals in your immediate area. But if you’re recruiting digitally for remote sales positions, you can hire reps from all over the world. 
  2. COVID-proof infrastructure – Although we’re a long way from the COVID trough and conditions have improved dramatically with vaccinations, it’s still a concern and will likely remain one for the foreseeable future. The bottom line is many people are uncomfortable working in a physical office because of the threat of COVID, but working remotely solves that, which should make your business more appealing. 
  3. Flexibility – Being able to work remotely is an enticing proposition for many salespeople because of the flexibility it offers. The chart below shows that an overwhelming 98% of people would like to work remotely, at least some of the time, for the rest of their career. So needless to say, this can be helpful from a recruiting standpoint. 

Offer Childcare Benefits

One area where COVID has been particularly disruptive is with childcare. Although most schools and daycares have reopened, many parents still struggle with childcare — especially when it comes to dropping their kids off and picking them up because of the nationwide bus driver shortage. So offering relevant benefits can be a great way to entice many salespeople.

Women, in particular, who often bear the brunt of childcare responsibilities are interested in employers that offer these benefits. The Harvard Business Review chimes in saying, “Employers could tap into this vast talent pool by partnering with providers of day care, after school, and drop-off/pickup services to help employees with children juggle their work and home schedules. Yes, it might also involve some out-of-pocket investments, but think about it this way: How much is the lost revenue or higher attrition rate among your workers costing you?”

If your business is the one among your competitors that offers amazing childcare benefits, this has the potential to give you a massive edge in the recruiting battle. 

Ensuring You Have the Talent You Need

The past couple years have been challenging to say the least. Today’s companies have had curve balls thrown at them that were impossible to anticipate, with COVID and talent shortages being two of the biggest. But like finding success in any other branch of business, staying ahead largely boils down to adaptation. 

By following the right sales recruitment strategies, you should be able to get your company back on track and ensure you’ve got A+ talent, regardless of market conditions. 

Looking to hire better sales talent, faster? See how HireDNA can help you build a stronger team and eliminate 96% of hiring mistakes. 

40% of Salespeople Say Prospecting is the Most Difficult Part of the Sales Process. Here’s What to Do About It.

There’s a lot involved in the sales process. HubSpot breaks it down into these seven key steps

All of these steps present a certain level of challenge. But hands down, prospecting has been chosen as creating the most difficulty for reps. In fact, “more than 40% of salespeople say this is the most challenging part of the sales process, followed by closing (35%) and qualifying (22%),” HubSpot explains. 

Given that so many reps have such an issue with this critical first step, for this post I’m going to tackle how to streamline prospecting so you can make it ultra efficient and keep a steady stream of quality leads coming. 

Develop Prospect Personas

Similar to customer personas where you define segments of your buyers, a great starting point is to create prospect personas that accurately represent the decision makers you’re looking to reach. 

“A well thought out prospect persona helps you to focus on both of the following,” writes sales process expert Marylou Tyler:

  • “The decision maker’s factual variables
  • The decision maker’s personality variables that impact the prospecting/selling process.”

If, for example, you’re selling a B2B SaaS product, you may primarily be going after higher level individuals within a company, such as account managers, executive directors, or COOs. They would have more sway within their organization as compared to a customer service rep, and you would likely get much further speaking with them. That covers the first part of prospect personas with the factual variables. 

As for the personality variables, you’ll want to look at things like:

  • What key pain points they’re likely experiencing
  • What motivates them
  • The best time to reach out to them
  • The criteria they use to evaluate potential vendors
  • Potential objections

You may also want to check out this resource from Business 2 Community, which outlines how to create a persona matrix to ensure you cover all the bases. 

Once you have your prospect personas fleshed out, you’ll have something tangible to reference, which should go a long way in helping your salespeople target the right people and use the optimal approach. 

Identify Top Outreach Channels

“Back in the day,” there were only a few outreach channels to choose from. Mainly phone, face-to-face networking, and paper mail. These days, there are a wide variety of options, including social media, text, chatbots, and SEO just to name a few. 

This graphic from LeadMD shows just how many ways there are to communicate with prospects. 

As you can see, it’s pretty overwhelming. Without a clear cut strategy, your outreach is likely to just become “busy work” and miss the mark. That’s why you need to be super specific about which channels you want to use and personalize your outreach for each individual prospect. 

This in itself is a science, but here’s a simple strategy I suggest that involves two main steps. 

  1. Analyze what’s worked best for you in the past based on quantifiable data and select the small handful of outreach techniques that are most potent. Then focus on those. 
  2. Do some sleuthing for each prospect to see which channel they’d likely prefer. Maybe, for instance, they’re highly active on LinkedIn, which would make this network a great choice for outreach.

This should prevent your salespeople from having a “spray and pray” mentality and greatly increase their chances of starting meaningful dialogues with quality prospects.

Leverage Referrals

Your salespeople have a 30% higher chance of converting a referral than they do an average prospect. And in the long run, referrals have a 16% higher lifetime value. 

But even though data clearly shows referrals are incredibly potent, it’s a highly underutilized prospecting strategy for most reps. In fact, 58% of salespeople say they ask for less than one referral per month, and 40% say they rarely ask at all. 

If this is an area where you’ve been lacking up to this point, I highly recommend developing a referral program, which you can learn all about here

Batch Prospecting Tasks

The concept of batching where you complete similar tasks in one high concentration session has become incredibly popular in recent years and for good reason. It helps you achieve a high level of focus and minimize disruptions, which almost always leads to better results than completing tasks at random. 

Studies have found that “we need at least 15 minutes to get fully concentrated on one task after switching to it,” and “if we quickly change from one task to another, we lose about 40% of productivity, because our brain still lingers to the previous task for a substantial amount of time.”

Batching can apply to numerous areas of business, and prospecting is no exception. I suggest having your salespeople block off a certain period of time each week (2 to 3 hour sessions tend to work well) where they focus solely on prospecting tasks. That way all of their energy goes toward this vital yet difficult stage of the sales process, and they’re not bouncing around to other duties. 

Turning Prospecting Into a Science 

The fact that 40% of salespeople struggle with prospecting shows that it demands more attention than any other stage of the sales process. Implementing the strategies above, such as developing prospect personas, picking the right channels for outreach, capitalizing on referrals, and batching prospecting tasks should put your salespeople on the right track to turn a weakness into a strength. 

Underwhelmed with your current sales team? Find out how HireDNA can help you find A+ reps by sourcing top talent and combining intelligent matching with science-based assessments. 

Sales Salary Negotiation: An In-Depth Guide for Employers

Negotiation is found everywhere in business. And a sales rep’s salary is no exception. 

According to recent data from G2, “69% of men and 51% of women say they would enter into salary negotiations with an employer.” So this is something you should be prepared to do.

By understanding a few core principles and applying best practices, you should be able to hire rockstar sales reps, while staying on budget. Let’s get right into it. 

Start with Job Salary Research

Just like with nearly any type of negotiation, whoever is armed with the most knowledge tends to have more leverage. So the first step is to figure out what the average salary is for sales reps in your specific industry. 

Say, for example, you’re in SaaS. These reps earned, on average, $48,250 per year as of October 2020. However, those in the bottom 25% earned just $38,000, and those in the top 75% earned $59,000.

Having clear data gives you a baseline of how much you should pay a potential candidate based on their knowledge and experience and provides you with something concrete to point to if a candidate wants to know how you came up with your figure. 

Assess the Candidate’s Value

Next, you need to determine just how badly you want a particular candidate. Maybe you’re dealing with a next-level salesperson with an outstanding track record for success. Someone you’re personally headhunting and are certain would be a massive asset to your company. Or, maybe they look solid, but it wouldn’t be the end of the world if things didn’t work out. 

Assessing a candidate’s value and having a clear view of what they bring to the table will impact your negotiation and how high you’re willing to go. So go ahead and figure that out ahead of time, ideally quantifying with a 1-10 ranking of what their value is. 

Pinpoint a Salary Range

Once you know the average salary for a salesperson in your industry and how much you want a particular candidate, it’s time to pinpoint a salary range. Here you’ll need to determine what your ideal salary is and the maximum amount you’re willing to pay a salesperson. 

Say, for instance, you’ve found an A+ rep who could be a legitimate game-changer to your sales team. The ideal salary may be somewhere around $46,000. However, you may be willing to go as high as $55,000 if that’s what it takes to land them. 

So here’s what your salary range would look like. 

Having this articulated before beginning formal negotiation gives you a firm, quantifiable reference point so you 1) increase the likelihood of reaching a favorable agreement and 2) ensure you don’t go beyond your limit. 

Don’t Start With Your Best Offer

Up until this point, the steps of the sales salary negotiation process have been preliminary, involving research and analysis. From here on out, the following steps will revolve around the actual dialogue between you and a candidate. 

Perhaps the most important thing to remember when you’re throwing out an initial number is to not start with your best offer. You by no means want to lowball them with a ridiculously small salary, as this can create friction and derail your efforts. But you don’t want to offer your max salary right out of the gate because this leaves you with no wiggle room and can result in spending more than you need to. Besides that, an elite candidate may feel you’re not all that interested in them if you’re not willing to go higher than your initial number. 

I personally suggest starting at or around the low end of your salary range. So, if it was $46,000-$55,000, you’d want to start around $46,000.

Anticipate a Counter

In some cases, a candidate may go ahead and accept your initial offer right off the bat. That’s certainly possible. 

However, it’s not something you should expect. As in the art of any effective negotiation, you should anticipate a counter and know how to react. 

Remember that making a counteroffer isn’t something that should be seen as rude or disrespectful. It’s simply something any smart, savvy candidate will do. This shows they know their value, and it can factor into them being a successful rep if they’re ultimately hired. 

And given that 74% of employers have room to increase their first offer by 5-10%, a good chunk of candidates will look for more. So be prepared when they push for a higher salary. 

This brings me to my final point. 

Know Your Limit

There will likely be some back-and-forth where you each throw out numbers, moving from the two extremes of salary figures to something closer to the middle. While you’ll probably end up going higher than the initial number you threw out, you definitely need to know your limit. 

Again, this goes back to the salary range you identified earlier where you’ll want to consider the max salary you can pay and not exceed it. Based on our example, $55,000 would be the limit, where you would need to walk away from any further discussion at that point. 

When you get in this territory, it’s important to be transparent about what your company’s budget is and set a firm limit. From there, it’s up to the candidate whether they want to accept or reject it. If all goes well, you’ll be able to come to an agreement that works for both parties. 

Finding A+ Salespeople with Sound Negotiation Skills

Although negotiation won’t be part of every hire, it’s something you’ll likely encounter at some point and should be prepared for. Understanding what the basic process looks like and best practices to follow should ensure you enter negotiation with maximum leverage to increase your chances of striking a fair deal and adding top talent to your roster. 

Learn how HireDNA can help transform your sales hiring and attract the best and brightest reps in your industry. 92% of recommended candidates become top performers within their first year, and 96% of hiring mistakes can be eliminated with HireDNA.