The only reason to hire a salesperson is for one reason and one reason only–to satisfy a business need.
For hiring companies, that business need arises from different situations. Sometimes, they’ve lost a salesperson and need to replace them, a salesperson has been terminated for non-performance or business is rebounding from recent pandemic conditions and it makes sense to add on to the sales team.
Once the decision is made to hire, the hiring manager (or HR department) encounters the next hurdle–writing the recruiting ad. It’s at this point, a sales organization most often makes a crucial mistake. The ad they put together describes the ‘job’ rather than the successful candidate. They make this error for a variety of reasons:
- The hiring company lacks a clear picture of the successful sales candidate so they don’t know who they’re looking for. Because they don’t know who they’re looking for, they won’t be able to distinguish an unqualified candidate from a qualified one. They won’t be able to spot an ‘ok’ candidate who interviews well but won’t execute. Very often an exceptional candidate will get overlooked in a sea of mediocre candidates in the recruiting funnel.
- Lacking a clear profile of a successful hire, they take the easy way out and write an ad that describes the job and their company. It’s easy to spot these ads: “An established, growing company has a position for an outside salesperson selling (insert product or service) in the greater (insert city) area.” They then proceed to list the responsibilities and requirements of the position just like 80%-90% of other ads.
Writing this type of ad fails to differentiate the opportunity and the company in a way that will engage and attract the attention of a high performing salesperson who may be looking for a new sales position.
The result of a bad ad? The biggest consequence is the quality of talent that goes into the recruiting funnel will be unlikely to reach the level that most companies require for a successful hire. Frustrated by a lack of qualified candidates, the hiring company will make a hire either out of desperation because they need someone to take over the sales territory or they get worn out from a seemingly endless process and settle for a hire who is ‘good enough’. At that point, the odds are they will find themselves back in the search mode twelve months down the road when they come to the realization that their new hire has failed.
I’ll save the topic of an effective sales hiring ad for a future post but here’s a preview. If the ad does not contain these words (among others): “The successful candidate must have prior success…” the hiring company may be on a path to making a very expensive hiring mistake.