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Sales Recruiting Overview

Updated on August 27, 2014

An Introduction

Sales recruitment is the process of researching, attracting, screening, selecting, and on-boarding qualified sales people for a sales position. This process is undertaken by an employer or by a recruitment firm on behalf of an employer.

In-house, or internal sales recruiting, is typically headed by an organization's Human Resource Department which reports its findings to the Vice President of Sales. Alternatively, sales recruiting can be outsourced to firms that are identified as either a retained search firm, or a contingency search firm. Retained search firms are paid their service fee entirely 'upfront' by clients, while contingency firms are paid a percentage of the successful candidate's salary.

Firms that engage in sales recruiting are either national level staffing firms or specialized sales recruiting firms. National staffing firms typically leverage a large database of job seekers to fill a broad range of functions for customers, whereas highly specialized sales search firms actively pursue highly accomplished sales professionals who are not otherwise seeking to change jobs and would not normally be exposed to job ads. These highly specialized firms realize the importance of following a defined recruiting process that focuses entirely on only finding highly qualified, top performing, sales professionals. Staffing and contingency firms, however, resort to an approach best characterized as random and scattershot, with the ultimate purpose of providing as many resumes to the client as possible.

Sales positions which require recruiting include: Sales Representatives, Division/Regional Sales Managers, Chief Sales Officers, Directors/Managers of Demand Generation, VP of Sales Operations, VPs of Sales, Sales Managers, and Directors of Business Development.

The Sales Recruiting Process: Specialized Sales Recruiting Firms

Highly specialized sales recruiting firms follow a rigorous and time tested process when recruiting sales professionals on behalf of their client. The process is broken down into six distinct, linear, phases that optimizes efficiency and transparency.

The first phase involves the recruiting firm conducting a client diagnostic. During this stage the client’s unique selling environment is studied and analyzed to enable the firm to arrive at a clear, cohesive and comprehensive picture of precisely the right top performing sales person to search for and, ultimately, to fill the position.

The second phase which focuses on defining the position mandate, codifies the short and long term performance objectives; determines what constitutes a cultural fit; and delineate what experience, sales DNA and behavioral traits are essential to deserve the client’s and firm’s interest.

Representing one of the most critical phases of the entire search process, the third phase, or candidate research phase, involves the recruiting firm actively searching for only qualified candidates. Since top performing sales professionals represent only 5-10% of the total sales population, identifying candidates that not only fall into this category but align with the hiring criteria identified in the second phase is a task that requires a significant amount of resources and expertise. As identified by Peak Sales Recruiting Founder Eliot Burdett “documented requirements and research evaluation techniques are essential. They act as a communication tool and keep all parties involved in the hiring process focused on making the right hire.”

The fourth phase of the sales recruiting process, known as the qualification stage, occurs when sales recruiters actively recruit candidates identified in the third stage and screen these individuals. The top sales recruitment firms go above and beyond in this phase to separate the very best candidates from merely the best. They don’t just interview the candidates, instead, highly experienced sales recruiting professionals place each candidate through a grueling battery of absolutely necessary tests, including:
-History and metrics benchmarking
-Behavioral based interviews
-Psychometric assessments
-Background checks

The fifth stage, known as the presentation stage, involves the recruiting firm presenting only qualified sales candidates to the client. Some firms will do this by showing a candidate’s resume to the hiring organization, while other firms such as Peak Sales Recruiting will compile a “Comprehensive Candidate Profile that includes the resume, complete assessment and test results, plus valuable advice from seasoned sales management experts on how to achieve the maximum sales results from the candidate [the hiring firm] does hire to become a Top Performer.”

The sales recruiting process can also involve the recruiting firm delivering qualified candidates employment offers, as well as providing the hiring organization compensation and on-boarding advice.


The Sales Recruiting Process Continued: General Search and Contingency Firms

General and contingency based search firms often follow an undefined recruiting process. Often, these firms will simply copy the hiring organization’s job advertisement and use that as a basis to attract sales people. One of the primary methods these firms use to find sales people is by posing job advertisements on job boards such as Monster, Indeed, Career Builder and Glass door. Instead of actively headhunting only qualified sales professionals like specialized firms do, these agencies rely on sales people submitting resumes to them.

Some general search agencies will interview candidates. Others will review the sales person’s resume and submit it to the hiring organization regardless if the candidate meets the hiring standards.

Helpful Resources

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