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:

Hiring from the graduate talent pool enables better recruitment and succession planning

If having a sales team in place by a specific date is important then it was agreed that recruiting from the graduate talent pool allows for better planning. Activities such as assessment centres, 1 on 1 interviews, inductions and training can all be organised to specific timescales so they co-inside. Achieving this when recruiting from a smaller more experienced talent pool is extremely difficult – pick these people up along the way but don’t plan for them! Have you looked to the graduate talent pool previously?

The fact we’re in a candidate driven market is no longer up for debate

Everyone agreed that increased recruitment activity was driving competition for good sales people and it was a big challenge for 2015. All recognised the opportunity cost of vacant territories but this time the debate was how to respond. Something you can relate to?

there was greater recognition that salaries are determined by market rates and not specifically someone’s skills or ability

Should you compromise or wait for the right person?

With the right support, compromising on a person’s experience and capability were deemed worth it if they were generating sales on a previously inactive patch within a relatively short timescale. For others though the risk of ‘getting it wrong’ meant it was worth waiting for the right person, regardless of the short term. The length of the sales cycle and how new business focused the role was seemed to have a bearing on which view was taken. Which side of the fence would you be on?

There’s greater acceptance of the salary disconnect between companies and candidates

More so than at previous dinners, there was greater recognition that salaries are determined by market rates and not specifically someone’s skills or ability. They fluctuate over time and with the undeniable fact that we’re in a candidate driven market many are reconsidering their salary and benefits packages. How aware are you of salaries in the current market?

The traditional sales role is changing in response to marketing and product specialists

Marketing are generating leads through white paper downloads and nurturing campaigns and product specialists are getting involved earlier in the sales process. This is leaving some companies in a situation where they are redefining the traditional sales role. How has the sales role changed at your company over the years?

Sales leaders need to be close to their organisations talent strategy

Because the skills, experience and cultural fit of people within the team is so important everyone agreed that the recruitment strategy shouldn’t just be ‘handed over’ to HR. Investing time into the relationships with your recruitment partners, both internal and external with clear lines of communication and understanding were deemed essential for success…all be it at times difficult to achieve.