attract top sales talent

How to Attract Top Sales Talent

Top sales reps are in high demand, and companies are in constant competition to attract top sales talent. When the best sales candidates are flooded by messages from recruiters on a daily basis, startups need to up their game to get noticed. 

Here are six areas startups should focus on to attract top sales talent:

1. Build an Attractive Company Culture

To attract top sales talent, your company needs to be a place where people want to work every day. This is particularly critical in sales. Your SDRs won’t be able to communicate the value of your product to prospective customers if they don’t believe in the company itself. Develop guiding principles for your company that clearly communicate the kind of company you strive to be and the kind of environment you want to foster. 

From the job post to final interviews, communicate your company’s culture to candidates. Small gestures, such as giving a new hire a T-shirt on the first day of work or inviting prospective employees to a happy-hour with the team, can go a long way towards communicating an attractive company culture.

2. Show Candidates how the Sales Role is Connected with a Valuable Purpose

Today’s employees, especially millennials, want a job that allows them to make a positive contribution to the world. They’re not just seeking a paycheck every two weeks. They want to know they’re making a difference. Being a sales representative is a valuable and an important job, but companies may have to work a little in order to demonstrate that to prospective employees.

Show candidates that your company has an important mission, and that their role impacts others. Make it clear that they aren’t just cogs in the machine, but rather an indispensible part of a broader mission. Studies have consistently shown that employees who derive meaning from their employment are more than three times as likely to stay with their organizations.

To get candidates and new employees excited about your company’s mission, make sure that it is clearly communicated throughout the entire recruiting process. This will attract high-quality candidates who are excited about your company and not just their paycheck.

3. Provide New Sales Representatives with a Clear Path for Career Advancement

Ambition is a trait shared by all top sales talent. In order to keep the most promising young SDRs in your company, they need to be able to see a path to career advancement. Offer your sales representatives a vision for future advancement, and provide them with the guidance they need in order to get there.

To foster the career development of your sales representatives, offer mentorship to newer sales representatives and provide training on an ongoing basis. Not only will this help your SDRs perform their job better, but it will also give them a stake in your company’s future success. Set up periodic meetings with sales representatives to discuss their career progress. Ask sales representatives where they see themselves in the future, and keep lines of communication open.

When hiring Account Executives and other high-level positions, try to recruit from the inside. If candidates see that others in the position are advancing into higher positions, they will see that the company is invested in their personal long-term success. Your sales representatives need to know that there is a strong future for them within your company.

sales development

4. Utilize a Candidate Centered Interview Process

It’s easy to forget that interviews are intended to be reciprocal processes. Just as the job candidate needs to sell you on his or her skills, you need to sell candidates on your company.

A candidate-centered interview process serves many purposes. It puts candidates at ease, allowing you to more accurately evaluate applicants’ skills and cultural fit. Additionally, a candidate who has a positive experience at the interview will be more likely to choose you if they receive multiple job offers.

Here are some ways to implement a candidate-centered interview process:  
  • Involve the whole team in the interview process. This demonstrates that your employees are engaged and care about the future of the company.
  • Work to build rapport with the candidate during the interview. Get to know them as a person, not just as a job candidate.
  • Provide mentorship and advice, even during the interview. The best, most ambitious sales representatives want to learn more on the job. An educational interview communicates to candidates that yours is a company where they will learn and grow.
  • Even when rejecting a candidate, provide valuable feedback and be respectful in your rejection. Treating a candidate rudely will affect your company’s overall reputation among sales representatives.

5. Provide Competitive Compensation

Although providing competitive compensation is often seen as the most common way to attract sales reps, many companies fall short on this count. If you can provide a compensation structure that benefits both candidates and employers, your sales positions will attract a more competitive applicant pool.

When discussing OTE (On Target Earnings) with potential hires, be sure to emphasize how the OTE is achievable. Some job applicants may be wary of OTE figures you provide. You will need to discuss the OTE and how sales representatives can meet or exceed it. This means that you need to be judicious in setting your OTE. If a large proportion of your sales representatives consistently fall short of the OTE, then world will get around. Companies who provide sales representatives with competitive compensation reap the benefits in the long run.

6. Consider Partnering with a Talent Recruitment Network like CloserIQ

Even the best startups experience turnover on their sales teams, and it’s vital to maintain a steady pipeline of qualified candidates if you want to reach your hiring benchmarks.

If you’re not able to maintain the candidate flow you need, it’s worth looking for a recruiting partner. There are plenty of staffing firms, agencies and platforms that can help you source top sales talent. While these services obviously cost more than doing it yourself, the time you’ll save is worth it.

James Meincke

James is the Head of Marketing @ Demodesk, the intelligent meeting platform for remote sales. Previously he was the Director of Marketing at CloserIQ.