Needing to fill a sales role quickly is never an ideal situation, particularly when it’s a sales position that could have a direct impact on your revenue. According to the BMS Index, 75% of sales teams are missing out revenue because of vacant territories.

When in this position you have a key question to answer – do you take someone on and train them up or wait for the perfect person, which may result in lost sales? It’s a conundrum that many sales leaders face whilst operating in a more candidate driven market. If you are looking to recruit, here’s our five-step plan for when time is of the essence.

1. Be flexible on experience

There are many excellent people doing jobs they weren’t qualified to do when they first applied.

Go through the requirements listed on your job advert and ask yourself which are actually necessary for people to be able to perform the job. It may be nice for them to have experience in the sector you operate in, but does it really matter if they have held a similar sales role in another industry? Are they able to build customer rapport, qualify and close deals? Do they have the sales DNA that will help you hit targets? If they do, with a structured training approach, you can always teach specific product and market knowledge.

This is especially true when it comes to new business experience – many people want 4 or 5 years’ experience but this is just unrealistic in the current market, especially if you want it within a specific sector.

If you’re looking to get applicants in through the door quickly, do what you can to trim the long list of prerequisites and focus on the core requirements you really need.

2. Pay a competitive salary

The term ‘competitive salary’ is one of the major differences in opinion between recruiters and job seekers. It’s an ambiguous phrase that can do as much to deter potential applicants as it can attract them.

Like it or not, salary is always going to be near the top of motivators for people looking for a new job, and having no set range can make those looking for a specific figure skip on to the next opportunity.

There are lots of obvious reasons behind why you wouldn’t want to state an exact salary figure within your job ads, but when time is precious, it might be one area where you need to change your approach. If you’re not sure about what a competitive salary is for the role you’re hiring, check out salary surveys and what your competitors are offering for similar positions. You’ll need to compare your salary offerings to those within your sector and region, too.

Download our free guide for sales directors and hiring managers to learn how to hit sales targets with a winning recruitment strategy

3. Agree with internal teams what you want

Internal bottlenecks are often the biggest hurdle to overcome when hiring. Various managers will want different things out of new hires, some of which will be incompatible. So how do you ensure nobody is disappointed?

Someone essentially needs to take the lead as it’s usually better to have someone step up and take responsibility for the role, rather than go round the houses for weeks on end trying to tick everyone’s boxes. The hiring manager needs to be clear with what they want from their new person and communicate with the relevant teams.

HR teams should be a key part of these discussions, especially if they’re going to be actively involved in the first round of applicant reviews. Make sure everyone knows the difference between the skills you’re looking for, and how they may be phrased differently on CVs. The last thing you want to do is overlook someone with the right abilities just because they used an uncommon acronym.

If you’re not sure about what a competitive salary is for the role you’re hiring, check out salary surveys and what your competitors are offering for similar positions.


4. Shorten your processes and be available

Your usual way of working may look something like this: an initial phone screening, then an in-person interview followed by a practical test, then a second round interview, then the decision-making stage.

According to the BMS Index, 76% of businesses have 3 or more stages, while 71% required candidates to attend three interviews. This kind of process can add weeks (if not months) by the time the relevant people have been able to sync up their calendars.

Two rounds of interviews are always a good idea to make sure you get the appropriate measure of someone, but they don’t necessarily have to be weeks or even days apart.

See if you get those involved in the process to pencil in a whole day where you can cram short interviews into a morning session, then offer certain people who seem like the right fit to come back in the afternoon for a longer chat.

Candidates will often need to take time off when an important interview is taking place, so having them be available for the whole day may be better than them having to make an extra ‘dentist appointment’ excuse a few days later. They will also appreciate the immediate feedback this approach offers rather than sitting by their phone waiting for a cell.

5. React quickly when you’ve found someone

Following on from that quick-fire interview process, don’t be afraid to go with your gut instinct when making a judgement call on a candidate – sitting on an offer for weeks on end could see you losing their interest and having to restart the process again from scratch.

Good candidates are hard to find and will inevitably be snapped up quickly by another employer. You’ll no doubt have been told by those you’ve interviewed in the past that they’ve got other interviews lined up and other offers on the table, but this isn’t always a negotiation tactic – some genuinely will. According to the BMS Index, 25% of salespeople gain an interview in their first week of actively searching. In their second, 50% will have had one or two interviews. By the end of the first month of active searching 76% will have gone to up to five job interviews.

You don’t want come across as desperate, but be up-front and honest with those you want to recruit. Phone them rather than email them, and make sure whatever contractual requirements there are can be delivered straight away so they can be welcomed as a member of your team without delay.