Every quarter we run an informal dinner bringing together 12 to 15 sales leaders to openly discuss their challenges, share best practice and industry trends with their peers.

Here’s a few of the points we took away:

Learn from the Big Corporates

The volume of external hires has exploded over the last 40 years. The US went from filling 90% of vacancies through promotions and internal recruitment, to a third or less. So, when you find out that only a third of U.S companies report monitoring the success and failures of their hiring practices, it becomes apparent why they struggle with such high staff turnover rates. How can you expect to perfect the art of hiring without understanding the process behind your own good hires?

In smaller companies where you might find yourself hiring once a year, it is harder to monitor what your ‘good hiring’ practices are as you will have little to no comparison. Our guests suggested that if the volume you hire makes monitoring your successes and failures difficult, lessons can still be learned from others.

Our tip for the smaller companies is to make sure you do some research; read large corporate job descriptions, look at their interview processes, how many hires do they make a year externally compared to internally? And then tailor the processes to you.

Remember – when researching best hiring practices, don’t be intimidated by looking at companies with strong brand awareness.

Identify the ‘Must haves’

It’s easy to hire a salesperson because you have a ‘good feeling’ about them. But have you sat down and worked out exactly what traits or skills that you need from your next sales hire?

Doing this will allow you to bring more focus into your hiring process. It will prevent you from being swept away by your relationship with the candidate, and instead will allow you to find someone with the right skillset or capability to do the role at hand. Then, you can develop the relationship with the individual. Don’t worry, we know charm and a great personality in a sales role goes a long way, especially when helping them fit into the team… so think about that later!

When you have written down your ‘must haves’, make sure that they are realistic. Ask yourself if there is anything you could compromise on? Once you know what you are looking for, that is when you can start the hiring process.

Experience Versus Capability

When it comes to the hiring process people are asking companies these questions; Do you look for experience or capability? Do you have the capacity to train? Do you look for hard skills or soft skills?

Let’s be pragmatic, we know that if you can hire someone with experience and capability that is what you will do. However, in this market where jobs are rife and good sales talent is scarce you may need to consider looking at someone with the capability to become your next sales star with no experience.

To do this, you will first need to calculate the opportunity cost of a trainee for your company, and ask yourself if you can afford it – or how you can minimise the opportunity cost. Then ask yourself; are you willing to take a risk for long term success over the short term?

Hiring for capability over experience will allow you to mould an individual into the ideal salesperson for your business. Not only could they eventually become your star hire, they may also have a stronger employee loyalty because you gave them a chance by training them.

When you hire a person that is new to the marketplace they will come with new ideas, they will be adaptable to change. By hiring for capability, you are investing in a culture of learning, nurturing and creativity.

So, what do you want to do:

Do you want to hire someone with a long history of success and consistent performance?


Do you want to invest your resources in someone who has no proven success or experience but has real potential to have a high rate of return?

Find the right balance

Don’t forget that hiring is a two-way street. With the UK employment rate being at the highest since 1971, we are recruiting in a candidate driven market. It is imperative for you to engage with the candidate and generate buy in. As well as, ensuring that they are the right fit for the role and the team. Here are 5 tips to improve your hiring practices:

  1. Be prepared to answer questions on why someone should join your company: what progression and development opportunities you can offer them etc.

Don’t forget we’re working in a candidate driven market, so make sure you give your company every opportunity to win over the best sales talent.

  1. Remember that a phone call on its own, does not show that you are investing in the relationship with the candidate.

Although a phone call may seem time efficient for both you and them, it might not be the right move to take in a competitive marketplace where you’re competing for good talent.

  1. Take them on a tour of your office, introduce them to team members and leave them to chat to the team.

You can then ask for feedback from the people who will be working with them thus, getting a broader more objective view of the candidate and their suitability. 

  1. For the longer processes: Bring the individual along for a day to shadow one of your employees so you can see how they work, and if they fit in.

Only implement this stage into your process as optional or if you know that they will be able to attend, otherwise you may lose some of the best sales talent due to their limited time.

  1. Take them out for lunch or dinner between offer and start date.

Here you will be able to start the on-boarding process into your company pre-start date. This is important because you want them to feel as comfortable on their first day as you can. Remember – the hiring process doesn’t stop at offer.

Attracting your next Gen Z trainee

Trainee’s come from all generations, but it is too late to be talking about Millennial attraction as they will already be taking up 35% of the UK workforce by 2020. So, let’s look at Gen Z.

65% of Gen Z want to be financially independent before the age of 30. This means that financial security is the top priority for Gen Z – well, isn’t that a myth buster! So, give Gen Z the chance to be financially independent, offer them good starting salaries, strong progression opportunities and great bonus structures. By supporting the financial independence of Gen Z , you will be repaid by engaged and motivated hard workers.

But don’t be fooled by the idea that money is the be all and end all for Gen Z. Only 15% of Gen Z  would choose financial security over job satisfaction. So, what do the other 85% of the generation want? They’re looking for a combination of flexibility and corporate social responsibility (CSR). Deloitte commented that Gen Z working for employers they perceive as holding a diverse workforce, are more likely to stay five or more years.

Prioritising a balanced lifestyle, Gen Z will move from job to job until they are in an environment where they are able to work flexibly around their schedules. They expect the possibility of remote working and the flexibility to fit their workload around their personal schedule. The traditional 9-5 will not survive within their transformation of the workplace. Offer your employees the opportunity to work remotely and you will reap the benefits.

Predicting your New Hires Success

After onboarding your trainee, you need to be able to effectively predict their success before they make revenue.

Our guests discussed using KPI’s to predict success, and their respective strengths. KPI’s are an indicator of success, these can be made up of the amount of proposals, meetings and demos that have been arranged. Each company and product have different sales cycles; for instance, if the sales cycle is two years, they may have hit all their KPIs in the right time scale however they’ve not made any revenue. By measuring their success by KPI, you can ensure that your new hire is going to be successful by measuring their efforts along the way. Think of it as the proof of success prior to the evidence.

BMS Performance can help you recruit and train

As a Platinum partner of the Association of Professional Sales, we can help you onboard the Level 4 Sales Executive Apprenticeship Standard within your company. Find out more here.

If you’re looking to develop your current sales team or to onboard new team members we can help, contact us today.