As a manager I am always recruiting for sales reps. My experience is that for every ten employees I have, one is on verge of leaving. This may be due to a promotion, a new job, a termination, a family issue, relocation, illness, or any number of other reasons.
I like to have at least one or two candidates in mind and “kept warm” in case I have an opening. In the rare case when I have a can’t miss candidate on the bench, I’ll even try to create a position so I can hire him before he gets hired somewhere else.
Here’s how and where I look for candidates:
My All Star List. I first reach out to my list of All Stars in my network for referals. Although I’d love to hire an All Star directly, it’s usually difficult to lure him away from his current position. But he will know other high caliber reps that he can refer me to who may be in the market (aka the Kevin Bacon effect). My occasional unsolicited recruiting call is also an easy way to stay connected with my former colleagues.
I don’t reach out to every All Star for every position I have. Some are better positioned than others to help with specific openings.
My Coworkers. When I am working in any company with 20+ people, there are always potential internal candidates. Good sources of candidates for me include: tech support, customer service, renewal sales, interns and contractors. In larger corporations, even a rep from another sales team can be a good candidate for me to recruit into a more senior role.
Whenever I am impressed by a coworker, here’s what I do:
- I observe how he interacts with others across the company.
- I invite him to participate in a sales team meeting to expose him to my team and how we operate.
- We have a conversation where I’ll tell him exactly why I am impressed with him. I’ll ask him about his career aspirations.
- If he shows an interest or aptitude for sales I’ll ask other people on my team for their thoughts about him.
At this time, I will have a conversation with his manager to gauge the manager’s willingness to let this person come over to my team. We discuss whether this would be a good move for the person and for the company. At times, I’ll back off. Sometimes it would harm the other department. Or this person could have already made clear they want a different career path. On occasion, I have to the “sell” the other manager on this idea of letting their employee at least interview for a role on my team.
Recruiting coworkers is always good. At best, I find a new employee. At worst, it better connects me and my team to our coworkers. It also makes the person being recruited feel great.
Vendors, resellers and partners can be good sources because my team interacts with their sales reps all the time. I am only looking for the rep who follows up before being asked, who brings solutions and business to the table, who closes the loop and who bring that killer attitude. I love those reps! (Of course, I always apply a liberal dose of diplomacy and judgement to avoid burning my business partner before soliciting their best rep).
Referrals from current sales reps and other employees. It seems like every large tech company has some kind of recruiting bonus. I find these to be fairly ineffective. I’ve seen many employees who recommend anyone so they can get a $1000 bonus check. Even if your company doesn’t offer a recruiting bonus, be aware that some reps will recommend their friend because the friend needs a job, not because the friend is qualified. Regardless, I will almost always interview someone who is recommended internally. My interview process, discussed in a separate post, will weed out the bad fits.
General public. From the waiter who tries to upsell me to the guy running the local pizza shop (who became one of my all-time greatest reps), I am always on the prowl for potential candidates. These candidates bring enthusiasm, hustle and a diverse skill set. In return, I offer them a career path, on the job training and a sizable pay raise.
The usual places. After exhausting the above, I fall back on the usual places: Running Ads, sifting through resumes, internal hr/recruiting, college job fairs etc. I’ll actually start this process whenever I am opening up a hiring requisition. Then I’ll follow the steps above while waiting for corporate recruiting to get the job posted.
Internal Recruiters and HR. When I rely solely on HR/Internal recruiters to find the best candidates, I’m in trouble.
Where they fall short is in finding top notch sales candidates. In fairness, HR are generalists who recruit for all jobs, so they have little time to become sales recruiting experts. They also have many other responsibilities in addition to recruiting. They don’t have access to a network of insiders that a sales professional would have.
I’ve found that HR is helpful in posting jobs on our website, running ads and handling internal hiring processes. Attracting the best candidates is my job.
If the volume of applicants is overwhelming, I’ll ask HR to screen resumes. I provide HR with my minimum criteria for basic qualification & salary requirements. Any candidate’s resume that meets these requirements will be passed to me.
If the volume of applicants is light, I prefer to screen all resumes because I know better what skills I am looking for in a particular role. In addition, by reviewing all resumes I can see who we are attracting. If I’m not getting qualified applicants, I can tweak the ads and the job descriptions.
Headhunters and External Recruiters. I’ve had limited experience working with external recruiters to help fill inside sales positions. Generally I’ve been on the receiving end of headhunter calls for higher level management roles so I can’t comment on their effectiveness for filling Inside Sales positions.
In wrapping this up, as an Inside Sales Manager I need a constant pipeline of candidates to ensure I have the team to drive success today, next month, next quarter and next year.
Always Be Recruiting is a mantra for me. It makes the difference between hitting my numbers vs. playing catch up every quarter.