How to adapt your hiring process for senior sales roles

Imagine that when you buy your next car you decide to search for a more superior model, one that has cruise control, blindspot monitoring and perhaps heated seats. You’re going to approach your search process differently than if you were looking for a car that was designed to just get you from A to B. Similarly, when looking for top talent you can’t use the same hiring process for entry-level sales people as you would for a senior sales role. This is particularly important because while hiring the wrong sales person can destroy the morale of your team making the wrong decision at a more senior level the can cause negative ripples throughout the business.

Once you’ve acknowledged why your hiring process needs adapting, focus on creating your candidate persona and using this information to deliver an exceptional candidate experience. It sounds simple because it is. So let’s look at how you should adapt your hiring process for senior sales roles:

Accept that there are different challenges

When hiring at a senior level you are competing for talent. In fact, the talent shortage has shifted the focus of talent acquisition and 28% of senior sales roles are now hired on a contingency basis. But hiring temporary staff is an issue for any business because every team needs consistency, especially when it comes to someone in a senior role.

The first challenge in this war for senior talent is to entice candidates to come and work for you. Next, you need to determine whether they’re the right person for the job. For senior sales roles, conversations won’t suffice; you need robust evidence that a candidate can deliver what they claim.

One option is to conduct role play to see how they would motivate their team to hit sales targets. Or to really put them to the test ask them to give a presentation on implementing a new sales strategy, paying special attention to the execution. Both these interview strategies will force the candidates to stop focusing on their sales figures and demonstrate their aptitude for sales and leadership.

Hiring externally for senior sales roles is tricky because you need to find someone who shares the cultures and values of the company. That being said, often your team needs an injection of fresh ideas and perspectives so when hunting for your next recruit you need to know exactly who you are looking for.

Create your candidate persona

Just as it’s important to outline a customer persona when trying to relate to a buyer it’s essential to create your candidate persona. Start by thinking about the company-wide goals and the type of person you’ll need to help you achieve this. What are their life goals and career aspirations?

Next, outline what their motivations might be. Perhaps they’re driven by talent development with a strong focus on pay and benefits.

Finally, you’ll need to form their skillset. Consider what their primary attributes are and what they have a flair for. It may be essential that your senior sales people can accurately forecast after all this is vital if their role is to develop strong business strategies based on market conditions.

Provide a great candidate experience

Yes, you’re essentially testing candidates to see if they fit the bill but don’t forget that the candidate is assessing your company too. Because of the increased competition for talent at the senior level, your hiring process must communicate your culture, values and why the candidate should come and work for your company over any other. Technology is an essential ingredient to push your company culture forward and help you recruit the best sales talent. Note that when interviewing for a senior sales role, you must listen to the questions they ask because this reveals their values and motivations.

With 83% of jobseekers expressing that a timeline of the process would contribute to a positive candidate experience you can’t afford any collapse in communication. Touch base throughout the process, letting candidates know the next steps and how long they should expect to wait for a response. As for those who aren’t successful, keep in touch because this is essential for building your talent pipeline – something you will thank yourself for doing several months down the line when you find yourself yet again in the war for senior sales talent.

And finally, you need to show applicants how you can support their career development – this will ensure that your sales leaders won’t leave.

Are you ready to hire your next senior sales person?

When it comes to hiring for senior sales roles consulting a recruiter should be your first port of call. Our specialised sales division can help you form a candidate persona and lay the foundations to create a great candidate experience so that you’re attracting the right people and hiring only the best. Get in touch today for our help or upload your vacancy here.