By Kathleen Laney - April 7, 2016
Any experienced recruiter will tell you sales professionals are not an easy hire. They are among the trickiest positions to fill, and if your hire fails, the impact it has on your company can be significant and very visible. For that reason, you want only the best talent on your sales team. But the best sales talent can and should be choosy when it comes to switching jobs or companies. After all, job changes can have long-lasting repercussions on a professional’s career progression, be it positive or negative. To attract the top sales talent that will make your company and not break it, requires a holistic approach that includes understanding what appeals to the talent you want and a plan to attract them.
What do sales executives look for in a company?
There is a simple answer to that – a positive reputation. Your business’ reputation has two key aspects to it – how are your products and services perceived in the market and how is it to work for your company. A negative employer reputation can lead to recruitment and retention challenges. This is particularly true if the poor reputation is documented online. Employers in such a situation face higher recruitment costs and longer time to fill vacant positions. Ultimately it can lead to the inability to attract that top tier sales talent that can set you apart from your competitors.
Many companies fail to realize that customers aren't the only constituency they need to impress. According to a 2013 survey conducted by Allegis Group Services, 69 percent of job seekers wouldn’t take a role with a company that had a bad reputation, even if they are unemployed.
As we continue the shift towards a candidate market, top sales candidates vet prospective employers to make sure they join a company who has competitive product and service offerings as well as a history of building and maintaining excellent customer relationships.
Why would a top tier sales professional want to join a company with a poor reputation?
Well, the answer is most of them wouldn’t. A positive company reputation is even more important to sales professionals than compared to, say, a corporate accountant.
Much of a sales employee’s compensation rests on their ability to attract new customers. While a sales professional must be able to close difficult deals, it is much more challenging to sell for a company that isn't as competitive. The most successful sales professionals are also generally motivated by what they sell and believe in what they are selling. According to a 2015 GlassDoor survey, 78 percent of respondents indicated they would accept less money to work at a company selling something they believed to be ‘compelling.’ The bottom line is that the top performing sales professionals want to work for industry leading and reputed companies. After all, it improves their personal chances of success.
Also, a sales executive’s own professional reputation is a concern for that top tier talent. Sales professionals prefer a company that provides exceptional follow-up and account management to keep customers happy. A poor customer experience, even if after the sales process, can reflect negatively on the sales rep and that isn't something any salesperson wants. A company with subpar solutions and discontented customers can make it an uphill battle for a sales team. This situation can not only destroy a sales professionals’ ability to earn but can even make it difficult to get future work.
The sales talent you want isn’t always easy to get.
Top sales professionals are generally passive candidates. While this is not always the case, this talent is usually employed. These are professionals who don’t just hit their quota or goals but exceed them consistently. They win deals because they do perform proper due diligence. They perform their due diligence not only when prospecting potential customers, but also when prospecting potential employers. This level talent wants to learn about company culture and opportunities for development. In fact, if your top sales candidates are not concerned or aware of your company’s reputation, then you should be concerned about the candidate.
Because your sales team has such a significant impact on your bottom line and can bring in considerable revenue for your company, any strategic employer who appreciates and wants to keep their sales talent, will pay them competitively. At the same time, that ‘A’ level talent won’t just make a move for the sake of making a move or bringing in a few extra thousand dollars per year. This talent group looks to make a move to a new role or company only if there is a strategic benefit to their long-term career development.
Managing your reputation is critical to not only successful sales hiring but also to the success of the company.
With the saturation of social media into every aspect of our world, companies are now more than ever being judged by their prospective, current and former employees and customers. Web sites including Glassdoor, Indeed, and Yelp all provide a platform for public feedback regarding any experiences working with or for your company.
Before you start any hiring process, especially any sales hiring process, take the time to review and understand the reputation of your business. Once you understand the perception of your organization, you can plan your strategy to either enforce a positive reputation or improve a mediocre or negative reputation. Ensuring your company’s image is well received by candidates will help you attract more top candidates and reduce the cost per hire.
Remember, a poor reputation does not mean it’s the end of the road.
Many companies, justly or unjustly, are unfortunate enough to have a less than stellar reputation. Lucky for us all there is a way to fight back. But before you can take action to improve any negative reputation your company may have, you need to take an HONEST look at the situation, make realistic and actionable plans to change any problem areas. Then, of course, you must follow through making those changes. Evangelizing your culture and the competitiveness of your products and services will have little effect if your company does have significant product, services or internal cultural issues. You can start to fix your image and perception only after you have planned and made steps to improve the real problems.
But wait, there is more…
So we’ve gotten this far with Part One of this series: “How your company reputation can make or break your ability to recruit sales talent.” There is still more to cover on this topic so don’t miss my next blog post to find out exactly how to improve and maintain your company’s reputation to help you attract the very best in sales talent.