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Who is Losing the War for Sales Talent?

By Beulah Matemera for InTheLoop

The war for sales talent begins with start-ups and small companies filing their talent pipelines with a network of friends and co-workers from previous companies. 

As startups grow, dilution of proximity begins. They begin to rely on employee referrals, recruitment, and job postings to feed the talent pipeline. This is where the challenges of quality and quantity in sales-hiring begin” says  Hilmon Sorey, Managing Director at ClozeLoop. “Companies that are well beyond this stage are experiencing the pinch.

Empty desks await sales hires across the country. (photo Kate Sade)

Most organizations are stuck here and are unable to win the war for sales talent.  Instead they end up losing candidates to deeper pockets, hiring mediocrity, or trying to manage with empty seats on the sales floor.

Previously you were introduced to frameworks as the best way to consistently attract, grow and retain top talent. In this article we dive deep into how you can quickly apply a proven framework in your talent planning process.

The H.I.R.E Framework

The four components of H.I.R.E. are: Hunt, Interview, Rubric, and Evaluate. We will cover the HUNT component in this post. 

Hunt

“When you think about filling a role, the first step is to proactively identify and contact potential candidates. But before reaching out to these folks, make a list of the attributes of an ideal candidate, and then turn this information into a formal job description,” says Cory Bray, Managing Director at ClozeLoop. 

First, outline the experience level that a candidate must have to be effective in their role. Then define the values that either represent the ideal hire, or that will disqualify someone from the job. Some examples are:

Performance: Quantitative indications of the person’s performance track record. For junior positions, this metric might not be critical, but for senior sales jobs, it’s key to know that a salesperson can consistently achieve their goals.

Methodology: If your company has a sales methodology, it might be important that the candidate either used the same one in the past, or at least that they are comfortable working within a sales methodology, as opposed to operating on an ad hoc basis.

Prospect Personas: If a new hire will be expected to sell to a certain persona, such as CFOs, candidates who have done so before will see faster results compared to those who have not. A salesperson who can speak a prospect’s language and empathize with what they do all day is better positioned to succeed. Sellers who have no idea what prospects do often say things that trigger unspoken resistance, damage rapport, and result in lost opportunities.

Sales Cycle: If a new hire has never worked on a deal that took more than one meeting to close, managing a multi-touch, multi-persona sales process over the course of months is going to introduce a lot of new challenges.

Pitfalls to avoid when hunting for talent:

  • Avoid low-ball compensation. When posting jobs, it’s tempting to low-ball compensation. If someone thinks they are worth $200k, they will not apply for a job that is listed at $140k, and the hiring manager will be stuck with trying to choose the best unqualified candidate for the job.
  • Avoid relying on poaching big companies. Everyone else is already targeting these folks and it is incredibly difficult to compete with deeper-pockets and amenity-rich environments. Be creative and source from lesser-known strategic talent pools when looking for quality candidates.
  • Avoid vague referral asks. Include the important specifics from the job description such as industry, years of experience required, geography and so on.  

The Hunt is the most important step in your sales hiring process. Failure to use the appropriate methods from the beginning can result in losing thousands of dollars on poor performers or hiring candidates who are not culture-fit for your organization.

This post contains excerpts from Cory Bray and Hilmon Sorey’s latest book — Hiring, Onboarding and Ramping Salespeople. Next article: Interviews.  Can’t wait? Then buy your copy on Amazon today!

Follow Cory Bray and Hilmon Sorey on LinkedIn.

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