We have better odds of being struck by lightning, killed by a shark or injured by a toilet.
Luckily, the odds are much better for finding and hiring good sales reps.
Recently, I helped a client to recruit, Interview and hire 3 Inside Account Execs for a newly created role.
My client is an established SMB that is building a sales team to prospect, create pipeline and close deals with government agencies.
I thought it might be helpful to share our results with others who are trying to find sales candidates.
We decided on a 3 tiered approach for finding candidates:
- I would contact my personal network to solicit All Stars.
- We would post the job in our feeds on LinkedIn.
- We would post on the company website and run an ad on Indeed.com.
I had high hopes for the first two steps. These have worked well for me in the past. Unfortunately, this time, they didn’t produce any viable candidates. I was somewhat surprised since most of my LinkedIn connections are in Sales and I have a fairly good network.
However, many people in my network have good positions.They had already been AE’s and are looking for the next step up the ladder in their career paths.
We did get a high volume of respondents to our Indeed posting.
On Indeed you can post for free. You can also sponsor a job posting, which appears above the free listings and “reaches more candidates”.
The way Indeed charges for sponsored posts is bizarre to me, but I suppose it’s common for advertising. You set a daily or monthly budget for clicks and then are charged on a per click basis up to your budget.
For our AE job, we ran our posting for a month. I wrote the posting and was directly involved in all of the steps in the Inside Sales Dude Interview process.
Here’s how it broke down for us:
- Our sponsored ad ran for 1 month
- We budgeted $350 and spent about $300
- We received 300 resumes
- 10% of these – 30 candidates – met our (very) minimum requirements, passed the Resume Screening and moved to the Phone Screening.
- 5% of these – 15 candidates- passed the phone screening and moved to the Focused Phone Interview
- <2% of these – 5 candidates – made it to the Onsite Interview. I suppose it is no coincidence that these were the only candidates who did some basic research on the company, checked us out on LinkedIn or did any simple Googling about our industry before interviewing.
- 1% of these were hired – 3 candidates
If my math is correct, the odds of hiring qualified sales candidates for similar roles using Indeed are 1 in 100.
Since we received up to 25 resumes a day, I needed to streamline the resume screening processes even further.
During resume screening I discovered:
- 50% of the candidates met few or none of our requirements I screened these out immediately.
- Of the remaining 50%, less than half included a cover letter – 75 candidates. Almost all of these were generic cover letters (really just 2-3 sentences). If the cover letter or resume said the person was seeking a non-Sales role, I screened them out.
- Less than 15 of the 300 candidates had tailored their cover letter to the job, the company or our requirements. These candidates all stood out because they actually looked up the company online and included some reason for why they’d be a good fit for this job and this specific company. Even those who did not meet all of our requirements were given a second look before being screened out if their cover letter was great.
I suspect that many people “mass submit” resumes because some of the applicants were not even close to a fit (eg. nurses, retail clerks, oil workers, and secretaries).
I know that many states require a minimum number of job applications sent per week in order to receive Unemployment Benefits, so some of our applicants may have submitted resumes just to meet that requirement.
It was still shocking to see the lack of effort from most of the applicants.
This position was a remote, work from home sales role paying $80K on target with a base of $40K (for more on How Much to Pay a Sales Rep see this post).
After screening the first 50 resumes, I was excited to identify several candidates who actually had a few years of legit sales experience.
After 100 resumes, I was thrilled when a candidate actually mentioned our company name in the cover letter.
Side note to candidates: If you are applying for a Sales job posted on Indeed.com, it won’t take much for you to stand out above the crowd. If you meet the requirements, take a few minutes to research the company and then customize your cover letter. This will put you in the Top 5%. If you also research the Interviewer in advance, you’ll be in the top 2%.
During phone screening, I’m determining if the candidate seems to be an overall good fit for the job and if the job seems to be a good fit for the candidate (see here for details).
I strongly recommend you use this step. It will save you and the candidates a lot of time.
Be sure to talk about money here. I guarantee you that every single candidate wants to know about the compensation and has an acceptable number in mind.
Eliminate anyone who is a bad fit or who you can’t afford.
Wrapping it Up
All in all, I was pleased with the results from Indeed.com. The price was decent and we found 3 candidates to hire within 1 month.
In retrospect, I would be even more aggressive in screening out resumes. I would also list the salary in the job posting to prescreen applicants who wanted more than we would pay. (I did do this about 2 weeks after the first post and it helped).
If you are going to post on Indeed, I’d suggest taking advantage of the Inside Sales Dude Interview process which I referred to several times in this post.
It definitely helped me to process a high volume of candidates to identify 3 highly qualified reps who we are happy to have join the new sales team.
In the future, I will write about other recent experiences with 3rd party recruiters, ZipRecruiter and LinkedIn Jobs.
If you want some help building your sales team or improving sales, contact me here. I’d love to hear from you.
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