Boring Doesn't Help in Hiring Sales People!
Guide to episode
- A sales job description is an important document - for internal use once a candidate is hired
- A sales job posting is the tool you need to attract the right candidates
- A good sales job posting clearly describes your ideal candidate (the person) and shares insight into your company's culture and strengths
- A strong sales job description, a sales assessment test with predictive validity, and a sound sales process are all keys to consistently hiring sales people who will perform
Hi, I’m Ed Marsh. Welcome to this episode of Signals from the OP. I create these brief videos every two weeks to provoke some thinking for industrial manufacturing company execs. If you know of one who you think might find some value, please share it with them.
An Exciting Sales Job is More Than a List of Tasks
I’m sure you’ve heard the annoying expression, “There’s a reason they call it work.”
Hopefully, we each find great challenge, fulfillment, and reward in our jobs. Nevertheless, there are parts of every job that are mundane, boring, or even plain unpleasant.
We all get that, but why promote it?
Yet that’s exactly what most companies do when it comes time to hire sales people.
They write a job description. One that drones on in great detail about all sorts of technical and administrative requirements of the job. And then they post that online and circulate it among recruiters hoping to attract great candidates.
It’s like looking on VRBO to rent a beach house for a family vacation and finding lots of descriptions of the diameter of the sonotubes on which the houses are built.
Describe the Person - That's the Important Part
Let’s back up. Are you hiring a job? Or a person?
Obviously, the answer is a person. In fact, you’re not just hiring a person, you need to first catch the attention of and attract superb people, and then induce them to endure a rigorous hiring process. So you need to connect with them emotionally.
I’m going to go way out on a limb and suggest that some dry recitation of your job's administrative responsibilities probably isn’t the best way to do that.
Yes, you’ll need a job description to clarify expectations and to serve as a base for performance reviews. (Although it isn’t an adequate substitute for consistent coaching and frequent small adjustments.) But a job description is for internal purposes.
When you’re recruiting and hiring sales people you need a different tool
Using a Job Posting for Recruiting and Hiring Industrial Sales Reps
That’s the role of a job posting.
Here’s the critical distinction between a job description and a job posting.
While the job description describes the job, your job posting needs to describe the ideal person you’re trying to hire. Let me say that again.
Your job posting needs to describe your perfect candidate. It needs to speak to them. When they read it, they need to immediately identify their current and aspirational selves in your description of the ideal candidate and the sales role.
Your job posting should clearly describe the experience, responsibilities, skills and attitude which characterize a successful candidate for this role.
Be direct. Start with something straightforward like:
“The successful candidate will have at least 4 years of quota exceeding sales, of complex engineered systems, at price points >$3MM to the C-Suite in multinational companies.”
Then go on to provide more color commentary about the person, the role, and your company. And don’t use corporate speak – describing your company as the “leading provider of” whatever just makes you sound like every other. Put some personality and character into it – at least commensurate with the personality you want in your candidate.
Sales Candidates are Prospects Too
Remember that sales candidates are like every other buyer these days. They’ll research you online.
That means your website and your careers page need to be aligned with your job posting. You need to manage your Glassdoor rating. And your benefits and pay need to be appropriate. The best posting in the world won’t attract top candidates if your pay scale is mediocre or your Glassdoor rating is poor.
If you do all this well:
- write a compelling job posting
- post it in the right places,
- keep it fresh and tweak it as necessary
- ensure that the other pieces are in place
you’ll receive a lot of applications.
Some will be absurd. Many will be OK. A few will look super.
If that’s your reaction, then you’re doing it wrong.
You need to refresh your sales hiring process. Every candidate must complete a sales hiring assessment before you consider or review their resume. This will help to eliminate bias and save you huge amounts of time. Insisting on a sales test for hiring as the first step in the sales hiring process is a critical point.
Subsequent steps in your sales hiring process should include short phone interviews of candidates who meet the sales hiring assessment requirements. The phone interviews should be carefully scripted, conducted consistently and objectively scored.
Some number of candidates that score well will be invited for Zoom interviews, during which you’ll carefully challenge resume claims and explore weaknesses uncovered by the sales test for hiring.
When you’re clear about who you want to hire, the final interview is your opportunity to sell them on the job. An efficient sales hiring process lets you economically recruit continuously, so you always have a stream of top candidates and don’t hesitate to make personnel changes when you need to or carry empty territories while you search.
Hiring Top Sales People is Hard - So Improve Your Game
It’s been a tough market lately for hiring sales people – at least great ones. The first mistake many companies make is using a job description instead of a job posting. They bore candidates and portray their job and company as mundane, and like many others.
A great job posting is a powerful tool in effectively hiring top sales talent. When followed by an effective sales hiring process built around a predictively valid sales hiring assessment, it’s a recipe for consistent success.
I’m Ed Marsh. Thank you for joining me for this episode of Signals from the OP. If you enjoyed it, please share it and subscribe – either to my YouTube channel EdMarshSpeaks.TV or at the related blog SignalsFromTheOP.com.