4 recruitment mistakes sales managers need to avoid

Back to blog 21 April 2017

As a sales manager, you’ll know all too well how important it is to avoid recruitment mistakes and recruit and retain the best sales talent you can find. The wrong hire can cost your company thousands of pounds – if not more – in training and performance management costs, and result in underperforming, unhappy teams. When you factor in hiring costs, lost customers, lack of revenue and potential severance costs that a bad sales hire can rack up, you’re looking at a significant impact on your business’s bottom line. So how can you get it right and ensure you hire the right sales person every time?

Here are four major recruitment mistakes you need to avoid next time you’re hiring new sales talent.

Recruitment mistake no. 1 – Not being clear on the role

If you don’t know exactly what you want, you’ll struggle to find someone who can tick all the boxes you don’t even know you need ticking. If the role is ill-defined in job specs and ads or not agreed on internally, it can be difficult for candidates to know what to expect and therefore hard for them to truly shine in the application process.

Ensure everyone involved in recruitment is on the same page in terms of the sales person you’re looking for and their roles and responsibilities. This needs to be done before you even thinking about starting your recruitment search, as if you’re all assessing candidates based on different criteria then the process will likely become drawn out and difficult.

Once you have a clear idea of the role and its requirements, write this all down in a killer job description, then check this against what your team has fed back to you. It should include the following:

  • A clear description of the tasks and responsibilities involved
  • Competencies required to be successful in the role
  • An outline of how the position’s performance is measured
  • Critical success factors for the role
  • Key performance indicators
  • Background experience and education required to apply

Have you covered every key element of the role? Does the recruitment team agree with it? If you’ve ticked these boxes, then you’re ready to go to market and start your search.

Recruitment mistake no. 2 – Failing to research “competitive” salaries

If you want to recruit the best talent, you’ve got to be able to compete with the best salaries on the market. While sales people are motivated by a variety of different factors, from career progression to flexible work conditions, it’s no secret that money is a major factor when it comes to piquing their interest in a role. With more than 20% of employers struggling to recruit the right people due to their inability to offer a competitive salary, according to one 2015 study, the importance of paying people properly cannot be understated. And what you think might be a competitive price may not actually stack up with current market rates. Do your research, look at what competitors are offering for similar positions and make sure you’re offering a wage that’s in line with that.

If your budgets truly do not stretch to the levels of rival organisations, you need to consider what else you can offer to attract brilliant sales people to your business. This might be a great bonus scheme, valuable benefits or a positive, friendly environment that celebrates success together. Think about your USPs and put these front and centre.

Recruitment mistake no. 3 – Not organising times and dates up front

While the average time-to-hire length has crept up in recent years (up to almost 27 days, according to the Dice-DFH Vacancy Duration Measure), it should come as no surprise that lengthy hiring processes can severely inhibit your recruitment practices. For one, a long timeline can lose in-demand candidates who will get snapped up by other companies while you are deciding. You’ll also lose out on revenue and productivity spent during the recruitment process, not to mention the lost sales from having a potential sales superstar stuck in recruitment transit as opposed to being out on turf.

Reduce the time it takes to hire by examining the key stages in your recruitment process, determining whether ever step is absolutely crucial and eliminating those that aren’t. You may have timeframes in place that, on closer inspection, are arbitrary – for example, a company rule that says any candidate must be interviewed three times, regardless of their level. Tighten these up where you can, and don’t forget to plan in advance and block out time in the diaries of everyone who will need to be involved in recruiting.

Finally, once you find the right person, don’t delay! If you take too long to make an offer you may lose someone for good.

Being too specific about experience

With any sales role, there are certain skills and experience levels that are non-negotiable in order to perform the job successfully. By and large, however, the right training and on-the-job experience can very quickly bring the right person up to speed. Make a list of skills and experience you won’t compromise on and keep any others as ‘desirables’ in the back of your mind. After all, every month that goes by where the vacancy remains unfilled means lost sales and therefore lost money. It’s a better approach to see what’s available on the market and be prepared to compromise to make sure you don’t leave a patch empty for too long.

Recruiting a star sales person shouldn’t be a long and difficult task, yet many organisations still struggle when it comes to fixing the above problems. Follow our steps to avoid recruitment mistakes, help tighten up your process and ensure you’re getting the best possible talent for your business.