Tired of Sales Turnover? 6 Tips to Hire & Retain Top Sales Performers

Published on Feb 27, 2017

Have you ever been disappointed by hiring a salesperson that didn’t work out?

If the answer is yes, you’re not alone. Finding “rock star”  salespeople that fit your culture and consistently reach their numbers is hard to come by.

In fact, according to an assessment of over one million sales candidates by the Objective Management Group, only 26% of sales professionals are successful. That means 3 out of every 4 candidates hired in 2017 will not meet their goals.  

To help you overcome these costly hiring challenges, here are six tips for selecting, hiring and retaining top sales performers. 

1. Create the Ideal Candidate Profile

The ideal candidate profile should provide a detailed account of the skills, experience, personality characteristics and other qualifications that are essential to the position. More than a job description, the candidate profile serves as an internal document used to evaluate each candidate to accurately score compatibility. 

Criteria to include:

  • Ideal location 
  • Product/industry knowledge 
  • Personality characteristics
  • Selling skills (hunter, farmer, consultative sell, etc.) 
  • Compensation range and structure
  • Travel requirements
  • Quotas and performance goals

To ensure everyone is on the same page, outline your ideal candidate profile with your hiring team before you begin the recruiting process. Recruiting will run more smoothly and you will know exactly what type of candidate you’re looking for. 

2. Develop Your Recruitment Strategy

In today’s competitive landscape, it’s becoming harder to find quality sales talent. Be sure to have well-defined strategy in place. Know exactly how you plan to pursue, attract, and select your candidates. 

Your recruitment strategy should demonstrate your value to candidates and show why the opportunity you are offering is better than your competitors. 

Here are some things to consider when demonstrating your value: 

  • Are your products top-of-the-line in your industry?
  • Is your compensation package highly competitive?
  • Can you offer a top performing territory?
  • Do you provide a great sales environment with a winning culture?

Remember, quality salespeople are also examining your organization to determine if it’s the right fit for them. 

3. Take Time to Proactively Source Candidates

It’s no secret successful salespeople are rarely searching job boards to find their next opportunity. Posting your job description and waiting for candidates to pour in won’t get you the results you’re looking for.

Tactfully pursuing candidates is a great way to gain an edge in your market. It gives you the opportunity to expand your potential candidate pool, and puts you in a better position to recruit the best talent available.

LinkedIn is a great tool to use for sourcing candidates.  Use the search capabilities to enter the criteria from your ideal candidate profile.

Although sourcing can be time-consuming, it’s worth the effort. While every person you connect with may be a viable candidate, but this correspondence should not be viewed as a waste of time. Making new connections and asking for referrals will help to expand your network and fill positions in the future. 

4. Use a Sales Assessment to Screen Candidates 

Sales assessments are most effective when used at the beginning of your screening process. It allows you to quickly weed out candidates who aren’t a fit.

Personality assessments are great, but they only provide one piece of the puzzle. Using an assessment specifically for sales will help to identify the sales DNA of your candidates to accurately gauge selling skills.

Use an assessment that allows for customization to the sales role. For example; are you looking for a hunter with great prospecting skills or a farmer who quickly builds relationships. Know what skills are most important to you and make sure your candidate possesses them.  

If you are recruiting for sales positions and need help identifying the right person to hire, sign up for a Free Trial Assessment

5. Prepare for the Interview Process

One of the biggest mistakes hiring managers make is not adequately planning for the interview process. Preparing questions in advance is a great way to ensure your interviews are well-organized and you’re able to collect all the necessary information to make the right hiring decision. 

As you begin to outline your interview process, start by determining what steps your process will include. Be sure to also consider:

  • What interview format is best (phone, Skype, in-person, etc.)
  • Who will be involved in each step of the process?
  • What are your objectives and goals for each interview?
  • What are next steps after each phase is completed?  

Having a defined interview process will keep candidates engaged and will allow for faster hiring decisions. There’s nothing more frustrating than losing a great candidate to another offer because you moved too slow. 

6. Provide a Structured Onboarding Program

Did you know 35% of companies spend $0 on onboarding?(source

The average cost of a bad sales hire exceeds $115,000. An onboarding program to ensure your new hire’s success must be a top priority. In fact, organizations with a standardized onboarding process experience 54% greater new hire productivity, in addition to a 50% greater new hire retention.

When done right, your onboarding program should provide your new salespeople with the right tools, knowledge, and resources to be successful. It should be tailored to the needs of the individual and tie into a long-term developmental program that provides continuous coaching and training. 

Your onboarding program should include a 30-60-90 day plan that focuses training on your industry, tools, products, and processes. An effective onboarding program will maximize new hire potential by preparing them for success. 

Break the cycle of high sales turnover by having a systematic approach for hiring and retaining top sales talent. 

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