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The Key to Hiring Great Salespeople

Recruiting salespeople is a critical task. 

Assessing a candidate's ability to find and connect with new business can be difficult, so it is tempting to reduce risk by narrowing the scope of the search for new talent.

As a result, most organizations look for direct competitor candidates based only on their resumes, to ensure that they get the right talent that can hit the ground running.

To illustrate the above, two real-life examples come to mind:

A headhunter once shared, "I want to present candidates while my clients want resumes." He wanted companies to understand that candidates are more than just the years of experience and job titles they've held, but he felt like many of the clients he worked with saw a CV with two legs rather than a person. 

I then met a candidate who told me that despite positive interviews, he was not hired because there was still doubt about his qualifications at the end of the process. Even though he felt he was a great team fit and had the right skill set to do the job, the hiring manager ultimately decided that because he hadn't worked at a similar company, he didn't know the business well enough. It is worth noting that the company in question was the market leader with only one direct competitor.

Why Organizations Hire Employees from the Competition

Many companies believe that newly hired talent knows the industry and has proven experience in a similar portfolio. So, they are ready to hit the ground running and might even bring some customers with them. But, It's not that simple: consider the hidden costs!

Recruiting top talent is not an exact science. Every company is different; even if it's a small company, expect a ramp-up time before a new hire is fully operational. Just because the new employee has proven themself in a different environment (structure and culture, business practices); past performance is no guarantee of success. Sales success means a strong match between the person, the company, and the market; thus, finding a good fit is anything but a sure thing.

Interviewing a candidate who knows your industry inside and out can give a false sense of confidence; don't forget what matters most: the candidate's potential!

The Argument for Hiring Out-of-the-Box Talent

Fresh(er) minds can bring numerous benefits.

Broaden the recruiting source, and think outside the box when describing new profiles.

Fresh minds with transferable skills will challenge the status quo; they bring novel ideas, updated contacts, and a new ecosystem.

The highest ROI is achieved when new hires come from a more mature industry that has already experienced and solved the challenges you currently face. Recruiting talent from the industries you want to resemble will accelerate your transformation.

No pain, no gain: you must invest if you want to reap the rewards!

However, I have met numerous companies that have said, "we tried recruiting outside our industry, but it didn't work."

Unfortunately, this statement is not clear enough. It does not explain why it was so difficult.

Answers to these questions need to be provided: 

  • What efforts were made to integrate new talent? 
  • Was sufficient time allowed for success? 
  • Was there some kind of structured knowledge transfer?

I often tell these companies to be prepared to invest in the recruitment process. Targeting, becoming visible to, and attracting this talent is a necessary but significant investment.

Once they are on board, retaining new talent requires efforts to integrate and assimilate to different workplace cultures. Lazy, non-comprehensive onboarding programs and talent management practices can quickly reveal their limitations.

The Key Takeaway 

Companies need to reinvent their business practices in an ever-changing business climate, and cloning doesn't help. When recruiting new talent, companies should take a more innovative, bold approach to achieve this goal.

To significantly expand the pool of candidates, focus first on individual potential.

Never forget to weigh the "learning ability" (your industry and portfolio) against the "learning inability" (the candidate's potential, drive and approach).

Then you can identify similarities in terms of the complexity of the sales cycle, the number of customer contacts, and the type of industries.

Finally, keep in mind that recruiting is just the beginning.

Once the new talent is recruited, companies need to set the stage for success. This is a necessary step if they want to take advantage of further expanding their recruitment boundaries. For more content like this, please visit my blog.

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