Over Half of Salespeople Will Take a Pay Cut for Increased Flexibility: How to Attract Top Sales Reps When You Can’t Win the Bidding War

Sales recruiting is hard. When you combine a global talent supply shortage, younger professionals shying away from the sales industry, and increasing competition, it’s not easy to attract top sales reps. This is especially true if you’re a fledgling startup and simply don’t have the financial power to pay big salaries.

Fortunately, there’s a workaround that can help you snag A+ talent without having to shell out big bucks. And it all boils down to one thing — flexibility. Allow me to explain.

Sales Rep Salary Outlook

A few months ago, I wrote an article about sales rep salary in 2022 that discussed how much today’s salespeople earn on average. In it, I mentioned that the annual median salary is around $62,000. However, more talented individuals can earn closer to $90,000 per year.

And when you look at the overall trajectory of salesperson salary moving forward, it’s clear it’s not slowing down any time soon.

While keeping up with salary growth may not be a big deal for well-established companies with deep pockets and plenty of clout, it’s not always easy for smaller businesses that are just getting their footing. So if your company is closer to the latter and you can’t afford to write huge paychecks, you need to get creative in order to attract top sales reps.

This leads me to the crux of this article.

How to Attract Top Sales Reps with Increased Flexibility

While there are numerous strategies for winning the talent war without paying more, one of the most realistic is to create a more flexible workplace that helps salespeople establish a healthy work/life balance. According to a recent PwC study about the future of recruiting, they found “slightly over half (51%) of sales reps would forgo higher salaries for more flexibility. That’s even higher among women (53%) and those who have been in the workforce longer (56%).”

More specifically, sales reps are willing to give up to 12% of their salary to have great flexibility.

And there’s plenty of other data that echoes the same sentiment. In fact, a recent hybrid working study by the Harvard Business Review said “59% of respondents reported that ‘flexibility’ is more important to them than salary or other benefits.” By these numbers, it’s clear that offering more flexibility can be an effective way to level the playing field when you can’t offer as high of a salary as other companies.

What Types of Workplace Flexibility Are Most Effective?

There are two main types of arrangements that can create a more flexible workplace.

First, there’s telecommuting where salespeople can work from home or on the road either full-time or part-time. With COVID basically forcing businesses to embrace contactless communication within themselves and with their customers, telecommuting has rapidly evolved in a short period of time. That’s why it’s something to heavily consider adapting in at least some capacity if you haven’t done so already.

Fortunately, with an abundance of cutting-edge software available for nearly every industry, telecommuting is easier than ever. A sales management system, for example, allows you to automate workflows, assign leads to sales reps, track KPIs, and more. A video conferencing platform like Zoom allows for high-quality sales calls, group meetings, and sales demos. And project management software like Asana and Trello makes it easy to break large projects down and monitor them from conception to completion. You can get a ton of helpful information on managing a remote workforce in this previous article we wrote.

Second, there’s flexible scheduling, which according to the SHRM, can include the following arrangements:

  • Flextime
  • Compressed workweek
  • Shift work
  • Part-time schedules
  • Job sharing

While it can, admittedly, create scheduling conflicts, and you need to look at it from every angle before letting salespeople work whatever schedule they want, flexible scheduling can be highly effective for attracting top talent. It’s just a matter of figuring out what will realistically work for your company. Also, it will likely take some trial-and-error before you get it just right. But with a bit of refinement, flexible scheduling has the potential to work well for your company.

Note that flexible scheduling can create some challenges from a legal perspective. Managing benefits, workers’ compensation, and independent contractor classification, for example, can become more difficult when you’re not operating with a traditional full-time work week. That’s why you’ll need to fully consider all the legal implications before making any official changes.

This resource from the SHRM is extremely helpful for this and highlights everything to take into consideration before implementing flexible scheduling.

Looking Beyond Salary to Attract Top Sales Reps

Let’s be real. Salary is important. At the end of the day, talented salespeople will always want to be paid well. But it’s not the only factor that determines who they choose to work with.

Workplace flexibility has become increasingly important for many salespeople, and that’s not a trend that’s likely to end any time soon. While this won’t guarantee you’ll get every rockstar you want, it can definitely put your company on the radar of more talented reps and help get your foot in the door when you can’t afford to pay a big salary.

Find out how HireDNA can help you get a steady pipeline of pre-screened, qualified sales candidates to grow your team and thrive within your industry. HireDNA can cut your hiring time in half, and 92% of recommended candidates become sales leaders within their first year.

7 out of 10 Sales Candidates Will Apply to Companies That Practice Brand Management. Here’s Why.

When most people think of brand management, they think of it from the consumer side of things. And they wouldn’t be wrong.

The definition of brand management, according to Investopedia, is “a function of marketing that uses techniques to increase the perceived value of a product line or brand over time.” Further, “effective brand management enables the price of products to go up and builds loyal customers through positive brand associations and images or a strong awareness of the brand.”

But as we’ll discuss in this post, there’s a heavy overlap between brand management and sales recruiting. When done correctly, brand management can be instrumental in generating high-quality sales candidates that can be tremendous assets to your team. Here’s why.

The Correlation Between Brand Management and Increased Applicants

A few years ago, extensive research was done to identify the correlation between brand management and the likelihood of qualified sales candidates applying to jobs. Their findings were interesting, but perhaps the most compelling stat is that nearly 7 out of 10 “job seekers are likely to apply if the employer actively manages its brand.” Specific examples include responding to reviews, updating profiles, and sharing information on company culture and work environment.

And this makes sense. Being heavily involved with brand management tends to create a positive impression on sales candidates and shows them a company is invested and truly cares. On the other hand, never responding to reviews, for example, would give the opposite impression that a company is simply “setting it and forgetting it.” After all, if they’re not willing to actively participate in a digital conversation, potential candidates will have to wonder how much they’re invested in their employees.

Going deeper, a separate study found that “companies with positive brands get 2x as many applications as companies with negative brands, and they spend less on employees.” So in theory, if you had two sales companies competing with one another where one had a positive reputation because of solid brand management and the other had a negative reputation because of poor brand management, the former would get double the applicants and spend less on recruiting.

It’s not rocket science. Today’s salespeople are smart and savvy, and they can easily tell which companies take brand management seriously and which ones don’t. And the companies that win in this area have a massive advantage over the competition.

Some Other Compelling Brand Management Stats

To paint an even more detailed picture, consider these other stats.

  • “62% of candidates agree that their perception of a company improves after seeing an employer respond to a review.
  • Companies with bad reputations pay 10% more per hire.
  • 50% of candidates say they wouldn’t work for a company with a bad reputation — even for a pay increase.”

By these numbers, it’s clear that focusing on brand management helps improve the overall perception of sales candidates and can significantly reduce your cost-per-hire. Beyond that, it can potentially help you be more competitive even if you can’t afford to offer the big bucks to salespeople like companies with much deeper pockets.

A Real-Life Example

To get a better idea of what great brand management looks like, let’s check out a real-life example. Asana, one of the world’s leading work management platforms, has developed an excellent reputation since its launch in 2008. They’re known for providing a simple, intuitive, well-rounded platform that makes it easy for teams across a myriad of industries to manage projects and stay on track.

Asana, for instance currently has a 4.7 out of 5-star rating on Apple and a ton of great reviews.

Besides that, Asana has also developed a reputation as being a great company to work for, with 96% of employees enjoying their experience. For comparison, that’s 39% higher than your typical company.

Here are some specific reasons why employees love working for Asana.

And if you check out the application page for a commercial account executive, you’ll see that Asana succinctly explains why candidates should be interested in working at their company.

And if that wasn’t enough, they have an in-depth careers page on their website that discusses Asana’s culture, values, benefits, growth opportunities, and much more. You can check it out for yourself here.

Therefore, it should come as no surprise that Asana has consistently been a leader in the work management industry and has a knack for acquiring some of the best and brightest talent. Salespeople are naturally attracted to them for many reasons, with their strong dedication to brand management being a big one. So if you’re looking for a great template to base your strategy off of, Asana is one of the best.

Brand Management: The Ultimate Win-Win

Having a great reputation is obviously important for winning over customers and establishing loyalty. In today’s hyper-competitive climate, brand management is almost always a precursor to any type of long-term success.

But it’s also extremely important from a sales recruiting standpoint. I think most companies understand this on some level, but many don’t realize just how big of an impact it has. To recap, nearly 70% of sales candidates will apply to companies that emphasize brand management, and it usually results in double the number of applications.

So if brand management is something you haven’t fully invested in thus far, now is a great time to do so.

And if you’re looking to fill your talent pipeline with qualified applicants faster, check out HireDNA. It uses intelligent matching and science-based assessments to source top talent in your industry to cut hiring time in half and lower turnover by 33%.