8 Common Sales Recruiting Mistakes

Sales Recruiting Tips

Are you hitting roadblocks in the hiring process? Recruiting good sales representatives who stick around can be a difficult task. Whether you're having a hard time finding enough candidates with the qualifications you need, or getting them to come to interviews and take the job, there are a few things you can do that will dramatically increase your recruiting success. 

Here are eight of the biggest sales recruiting mistakes you might be making, and easy ways to avoid them.

#1 Only Hiring from Industry

While at first it may seem like hiring sales reps with the exact experience you need is a no-brainer, it can actually be a big mistake. You may be unnecessarily narrowing your hiring pool by requiring experience in your specific industry.

Unless your product is extraordinarily complex, industry experience is NOT the most important qualification for a sales rep. Instead, you should be looking for reps with sales experience in any field, especially experience in outside sales, although retail, customer service and phone sales can also work. You also might want to take a look at your education requirements. Sales skills aren't generally taught in universities anyway, so if you require a degree you may be passing over candidates who spent those four years working in sales instead, while paying for education (and student loans) you don't really need. If you've been requiring a college degree, you might want to widen your requirements to include candidates who have only a high school diploma. 

#2 Lack of Organization

Sales recruiters have a lot to keep track of. Because most sales teams hire on a constant basis, the sheer number of candidates coming in (and often going straight back out) the door can be overwhelming. If you're trying to maintain a sales force of 40 people, you need to talk to at least 50 per week, interview 30, and hire ten of those.

If you're still trying to keep track of that many people in your head (or your email account), it's probably causing you more stress than it should. Just like there is CRM software like Salesforce for keeping track of sales prospects, there is recruiting software to keep track of job candidates. Recruiting software solutions like Smartrecruiters or Jobvite can not only help organize all the people you need to remember, but also allow you to collaborate and communicate with other members of your team when it comes to interviewing and hiring. These companies also enable you to easily recruit and gather resumes directly off your website.

#3 Waiting for Candidates to Come to You

The days of placing an ad in your local paper and then waiting for prospective reps to file in your door are long gone. If you aren't out there proactively seeking candidates to fill the positions on your sales teams, then you should start today.

You should of course be listing your jobs on sites like Monster and Careerbuilder, as well as whatever industry-specific or local websites are pertinent to your business. But you shouldn't stop there. Many sales reps post resumes on an ongoing basis, whether or not they are actively searching for a new position. Most of these job sites have a search feature that enables employers to search for resumes that match certain parameters. LinkedIn is also an excellent place to search for candidates for more senior sales management positions. Here at Netpique sales outsourcing, we find the hunting model of recruiting indispensable. 60% of our new sales reps come from searches on job sites. 

#4 Under-Utilizing Current Employees

Have you ever had a current employee recommend a friend for a sales position? If not, you are missing out on a great source of potential recruits. Good sales reps often have friends with similar skills, and adding a friend to the team can improve morale for all and ease the transition for the new recruit.

One of the things you can do to get your reps to recommend people for positions is simply to regularly remind them to do it. But it often also makes sense to offer an incentive to get them really thinking about whom they could recommend. At Netpique sales outsourcing, we offer a $50 bonus to the referrer every time we hire on a new rep who was recommended by a current employee.

#5 Leaving Candidates to Their Own Devices

The reality is, the position you are offering is probably one of dozens or even hundreds that a potential candidate has applied for. Just as he or she needs to make sure to do things to stand out to an interviewer, you need to make sure your company stands out to the candidate.

One of the best ways to do that is to go the extra mile as a recruiter. You are most potential sales reps' first contact with the company, so the impression you make is important. You are the one who shows them what your company's culture is like. Be friendly, nice, and helpful. Let candidates know that they can come to you with questions or concerns before the interview, or even after. That way, if they get lost on the way to the interview they'll be more likely to call you for directions, rather than simply blowing it off.

#6 Neglecting the Fact-Checking

You have an incredible prospect with a great resume who came across as a complete rock star in the interview. You're sure she or he will be an amazing addition to the team. So do you really need to check those references? Sorry, but yes.

Unfortunately, while the two may be somewhat related, great interviewing skills don't necessarily translate into good selling skills. And you'd be surprised how many people flat-out lie on their resumes. It is imperative to get outside feedback on prospective candidates to confirm your conclusions and alert you to potential red flags. Your research should include fact-checking things like university degrees and employment timelines as well as calling references and conducting drug tests and criminal records searches. If it all seems like too much work, you might want to consider outsourcing your sales recruiting to a company like Netpique sales outsourcing. 

#7 Asking the Wrong Questions in the Interview

If you're not careful, you can end an interview without knowing much more about a candidate than you knew at the beginning. The worst thing you can do as an interviewer is to talk too much, spending all your time telling the candidate about the position and company, rather than finding out about him or her.

Instead, focus mostly on asking questions that will draw out your prospect and encourage him or her to talk about past experiences and challenges, and how he or she reacted to them. Avoid questions that can be answered with one word or sentence. Ask open-ended questions that require explanation and elaboration. Be aware that sales professionals tend to give practiced answers to the most common interview questions. To get beyond the rote responses, ask follow-up questions like "why did you choose to do x?" or "what steps did you follow to accomplish y?" to draw them out further.

#8 Setting Bad Expectations

The other part of an interview is your chance to present the opportunity to your prospective rep. Don't paint it all as sunshine and roses if it isn't. Setting unrealistic expectations will damage your and your company's credibility, and result in reps coming on not understanding what the job entails, and likely quitting or being terminated within a few days or weeks.

Be positive and upbeat, but give potential recruits a realistic picture of what the job will actually be like. Set appropriate expectations for number of hours worked per day, and days per week. If you will be expecting evening or weekend work, make that clear from the outset. Be sure that they know that the job involves hard work, rejection, and a hunter mentality, and that they are comfortable with the expectations you have set. Don't forget to also talk about the positives; if you have great benefits, a robust sales training program, and plenty of opportunities for employee development and promotion within the organization, tell them that.

Fixing these mistakes in the flow of your sales recruiting process will help you find more candidates, screen them more effectively, and hire them more successfully. If you're overwhelmed with sales recruiting, Netpique sales outsourcing can help! Call us today for a free consultation with one of our sales consultants.