Every quarter we run an informal dinner bringing together 12 to 15 sales leaders to openly discuss their challenges and share their best practice and industry trends with their peers in a relaxed environment over some nice food and wine. Here’s a roundup of key discussions:

Benefits and package are important to both recruitment and retention

A competitive salary is still important for the role, sector and region you’re operating in but it’s now just expected. Companies that offer real differentiation and attract the best talent are those focusing on the wider package – training opportunities, career progression, flexible working, company culture, non-monetary incentives and employee perks. Many guests round the table were exploring new options in recognition of the changing aspirations of candidates. Have you considered any?

Flexible working patterns could help bring in experienced talent

A number of guests round the table were exploring flexible working patterns in order to attract highly skilled and experienced Mums and Dads that are returning to work. They often tick many of the boxes required for key skills, industry knowledge and management experience but require flexibility around working times. Have you considered more flexible working patterns?

Apply ‘Blue Ocean’ thinking to be more competitive for talent

Blue ocean strategies involve sidestepping your competition by creating demand in a new market. The conversation began around new products and segmentation but was later applied to recruitment. If you want a sales person with 1 or 2 years’ new business experience, you are competing in an extremely fierce market. If you’re struggling, consider competing in a less crowded talent pool and use some of the above mentioned tactics such as widening sector experience, introducing more flexible working practices or recruiting and developing raw talent. How crowded is the talent pool you’re fishing in?


Getting talent into your team now means compromising on your ‘perfect’ person.


Teams compromise on product or market knowledge but not sales DNA

Everyone was in agreement that it’s tougher than ever to find good sales people. Teams are prepared to sacrifice market knowledge or product knowledge and sometimes both. The risk of hiring the wrong person was worth taking if they had the right cultural fit and personality but no product or market knowledge but no one would sacrifice sales ‘DNA’. Getting talent into your team now means compromising on your ‘perfect’ person. What are you prepared to compromise on?

You must create a structured recruitment process and get it in your diary

There was a general feeling that it’s all too easy to let recruitment drift. A candidate could pass the first telephone stage but be left waiting 2 weeks for time and dates to become available in the manager’s diary. Time is not a luxury you have in this current talent market. Create a short process with clearly defined stages and put times and dates in the diary from beginning regardless of if you have someone or not. This will help speed up the process and ensure you’re in a position to react when talented people are on the market. How committed to time and dates are managers in your organisation within the recruitment process?

Aligning senior and middle management goals key to motivation

There was a general discussion on how differing views between managers on what the ‘right’ candidate is can affect team cohesion and overall motivation. Aside from the friction, the new recruit is uncertain of their exact role, who they should take direction from and how they fit within the team. This can create uncertainty which is to the detriment of the team motivation overall. How well aligned would you say your management team’s goals are when it comes to recruiting talent?