A sales job description can make or break the overall success of your sales recruitment strategy. This is one of the earliest – and most vital – opportunities to really nail down what you’re looking for in a candidate, yet many sales managers overlook this step, only to regret it down the track. A good job description lays out the duties and responsibilities involved in a role, serving as a basis for interviews, training, development and performance reviews. This means it’s not only important to have job descriptions in place, but also to ensure they are well written. And if you think you’re already a master of writing good job descriptions, think again: While 72% of hiring managers say they provide clear job descriptions, just 36% of candidates agree, according to 2016 research from Allegis Group.
Writing an enticing sales job description is tricky and takes time, but it’s integral in attracting the right sales talent for your team. If you’re struggling, take note of the following things to avoid in order to create killer job descriptions.
Don’t reuse old sales job descriptions
When you’re recruiting to fill a role that already exists within your team, it can be very tempting to simply re-use the last job description you had for this position. Even if this description was accurate within the last year, there will undoubtedly be elements of it that need updating in line with this latest role. Your new description needs to outline what is expected from candidates, and what they can expect from your organisation – more than two-thirds of employers think retention rates would increase if candidates had a clearer idea of what they could expect before accepting a job, according to a 2014 Glassdoor survey, so you need to paint as accurate a picture as possible.
Start by reviewing the minimum requirements of the role that you’re recruiting for, identifying the essential functions and base level of education and experience needed to be successful in the job. Compare these to the old description and the overall goals and objectives of the wider sales team. If you’ve had a shift in your sales plan, your new description should reflect this – whether that’s by highlighting new KPIs, additional qualifications that are required or a broader territory to be covered.
You should also consider why the last person in the role didn’t work out, and review whether their reasons for leaving may need to be more clearly addressed in the job description. For example, if they consistently failed to meet target, you may need to emphasise this element of the role more clearly on your job description. Similarly, if they left because they didn’t like travelling far from home, your description needs to describe where and how often the successful candidate will be on the road.
Don’t use industry jargon
Even the most experienced sales professional can be put off by the overuse of jargon and ‘industry speak’, particularly if you’re used to using terms and abbreviations specific to your business’s niche. Research from Monster reveals that three quarters of job seekers regularly see jargon and acronyms while job searching, and 57% say that this puts them off applying for roles. What’s more, sales is the third-worst industry for committing this offence. In a market that relies on clear communication, don’t get off on the wrong foot with your team by speaking in a language they don’t understand.
Graduate recruits in particular may struggle with more technical or industry-specific terms, and can be put off moving forward with job applications if they are faced with a complicated job description. Broaden your appeal by explaining any abbreviations or jargon used in your job description – or remove such tech-speak entirely.
Don’t create an unrealistic wish list
While it’s important to have a clear idea about the kinds of candidates you’re looking for, you can pigeon-hole yourself by creating a wish list that is unrealistic, too long and impossible to fulfil.
According to the NFIB Research Foundation, 88% of small business owners who are trying to hire report few – or no- qualified applications for their vacancies. This is a startling statistic for any sales manager trying to recruit new talent, and begs the question of whether hiring managers are being too picky when it comes to recruitment.
There will be many non-negotiable attributes your new sales person must have, such as an autonomous work ethic and an ability to communicate across all levels of the business. However, there are things that can be learned during training and on the job. Don’t rule out candidates just because they don’t have experience in your specific area of the industry, or because their Excel skills need work. Focus on the essential skills your ideal candidate must have and omit any ‘nice to haves’ from your sales job description.
Don’t be too generic
A sales job description that is too broad and general will not only confuse any recruiters who are trying to identify the right candidate for you, but it can also put off sales people who want a clearer idea of what they can expect from the job. A description that is too broad will likely attract unqualified candidates without interesting those sales superstars you are trying to target. Sales people want to be challenged, with opportunities to progress and a clear development plan. A description that is light on detail of the role, goal and business expectations will likely fail to entice these sales stars.
Identify generic terms and language within your description and update them with more job- and company-specific language. For instance, a “team player” could be described better as “a sales person who will collaborate with fellow sales people to identify new leads and possible sales territories”. Instead of saying “autonomous work is required”, you might say “the successful candidate will be able to direct their own workload and manage their own accounts, with support from the sales manager”.
Don’t leave out the basics
Candidates are not only interested in the type of work they’ll be doing for your company, but also what you are offering in terms of salary, bonuses and any extras, such as technology, car allowances and so on. These are crucial details for any job seekers, particularly those who work in sales.
Job ads that include a salary range receive more than 30% more applicants, according to SMART Recruit Online, while those without salary details have a dropoff rate of between 25% and 35%. It’s no secret that money is a big motivator for sales people, so be upfront with remuneration rates and what other perks they can expect. Omit these details and you run the risk of being overlooked in favour of a rival sales job description that is clearer on what it can offer.
Don’t forget to sell
Along with being a resource to help identify the best candidates, a good sales job description is a key piece of sales collateral. Your description needs to highlight the benefits of working at your organisation, whether that’s the superior company culture or the opportunity to work on major international accounts. Ask your current sales people what they like most about working at your company and include the best/most frequent responses in your description. Tailor these towards the types of candidates you’re trying to attract.
For an entry-level sales role that is ideal for recent graduates, you might want to highlight your flexible working policy, as millennials are known for desiring flexible work conditions. If you’re recruiting for a senior-level sales superstar with plenty of experience, competition on the market will be fierce, so you’ll need to think about what makes your offer better than theirs – it might be your excellent compensation package, extra holiday leave or the opportunity to take ownership of a new territory.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
The above steps should help you to produce a sales job description that attracts more of the right candidates, as well as showing you exactly what skills and expertise someone needs to be successful in the role. For additional help, don’t be afraid to ask your fellow sales managers, team members or HR support for their insight on what you do and don’t need in any new job description. Similarly, when working with recruitment professionals, ask for their advice on how your description measures up.
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