October 12, 2019


Hiring top salespeople is a close cousin to trying to close big sales – except the product is your company and the opportunities it provides to the “buyers” and their careers. In both cases, it is not smart to place all your hopes on one or two leads and devote everything you have to land them. Likewise, once a sale is closed or a recruit hired, you cannot just say “I’m done!” and ignore subsequent opportunities.

Many firms operate just this way — on the recruitment front at least. They wait for turnovers of their sales force before they take serious action in hiring top salespeople. There are several issues with this approach.

  • It risks weeks or months of lost production while a search is being conducted.
  • The chances of your hiring window aligning exactly with a top salesperson’s job search are low.
  • It places all the leverage in the hands of candidates, allowing them to get a better offer than they might have if you had a wider field of prospects.
  • The pressure to fill a position quickly might lead to bad choices.

Success in hiring top salespeople, therefore, means always keeping an ear to the ground and being on the lookout for opportunities. It requires establishing a network of top salespeople and business leaders that you can tap into when the need arises.

In the following, I will describe other benefits to continuous recruiting, even if you have no open positions at the moment.

You will establish a reputation as a force to be reckoned with

When you connect with top players in the marketplace, you elevate your own standing. Hiring top salespeople requires a certain “attitude” to be taken seriously, and one of the best ways to achieve this is to recruit actively all year in order to build your brand as an employer. This will get the attention of top talent and make them want to work for you, rather than have to seek them out all the time.

Always be open to having a conversation, even if it’s just to become acquainted and discuss future goals over a cup of coffee. Let salespeople know as much through your social media and website, and make it a non-pressure, exploratory activity rather than a hard sell.

Of course, having your name out there will also attract a few duds too, so you must employ a sales aptitude assessment to keep potential non-performers out before they get too far along in the hiring process.

You will gather valuable intelligence of the competition

If you’d like to learn what other employers are offering their salespeople in order to remain competitive yourself, recruit actively all the time. The process of hiring top salespeople will give you the gen on:

  • Who are the top salespeople in our industry and area?
  • Who is dissatisfied with their current situation?
  • Who could use further career development, which we could provide?
  • What are our strengths when compared with competing employers?
  • What are others offering that we aren’t?
  • Are any offices downsizing, providing an opportunity to pick up some sales staff?

One caveat: some salespeople sign non-disclosure agreements with their employers. Do not encourage them to disclose any information which could land them in legal trouble or is unethical to reveal. And if they have no qualms about it, question whether you would want someone like that on your team at all – as they could do the same to you in the future.

In other words, keep everything on the up and up.

You will never be shorthanded

Finally, when you focus on hiring top salespeople as a regular activity, you are rarely left shorthanded in the event of turnover.

In truth, it is better to have one or two competent “extra” salespeople in training at all times as a regular policy. These salespeople can take over accounts when another salesperson moves on or you can put them to work on special projects, such as establishing a new beachhead in an unfamiliar market.

However, if your budget does not allow for this, then having a pipeline of good prospects to call in for interviews is the next best thing. This is only possible if stay you active, make regular touches with top salespeople, and truly live the “always be recruiting” credo.

Hmmm, sounds a lot like establishing a great network in order to sell your products and services to, doesn’t it? That’s because hiring top salespeople uses the same skills and approach that the best sellers in the world do – and that includes always having a lineup of top prospects to focus on.

If you would like to have a conversation about hiring better salespeople, please don’t hesitate to drop me a line any time.