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How to Recruit and Retain High-Quality Sales Talent

recruit-and-retain-high-quality-sales-talentTo build a successful sales team, you have to recruit and retain high-quality sales talent. Sounds simple enough, right? But how do you find these top performers? And maybe more importantly: Once you've found them, how do you keep them on your team?

This blog post will explore tips and tricks for recruiting and retaining high-quality sales talent. I’ll also dispel some common myths about what it takes to be a top performer in sales.

How to Find Top Sales Talent

One of the most common misconceptions about top sales performers is that they're born, not made. Mel Brooks, who I hope needs no introduction, once said about talent that you “either have it, or you don’t.” But this couldn't be further from the truth! While some people may have a natural knack for sales, the majority of top performers are those who have worked hard to hone their skills over the years.

Here are a few tips for finding top sales talent:

1. Look for candidates with a proven track record of success.

When reviewing resumes, pay close attention to candidates' past successes. Look for achievement patterns, such as consistent quota attainment or exceeding expectations. In sales there may not always be a natural upward trajectory in a career, since most individual performers doing well in sales, like to continue to drive sales thus their own OTE. Look for longevity in role, maturity of company or product, and even how complex the potential sale could be. 

 

2. Seek out candidates with the right personality traits.

Not everyone is cut out for a career in sales. Look for candidates who are outgoing, confident, and persistent. These personality traits will serve them well in a sales role.

 

3. Ask behavioral interview questions.

To get a true sense of a candidate's potential, ask behavioral interview questions (which are questions that are more about how a candidate handles different situations than experiences) that probe their past behavior in similar situations. In sales reflection is part of the game, so for a sales role you may want to ask something like, "Tell me about a time when you overcame an objection." This will give you insight into how they handle real-world sales situations.interview-questionsAt Suzy, we believe that recruiting is about nurturing relationships (much like sales), so we often don’t hire the salesperson immediately. Great and elite salespeople are often not looking for another job when you reach out. So, when you find the right profile, you have to nurture that relationship and build a recruiting “drip campaign” to attract that individual the same way that you would a customer. This way, when that elite talent is ready to make a move, your company is top of mind when they do. This is not about sending them your Instagram photos of a company party, but instead sending things you would typically send to a customer like industry reports, blog posts, and case studies that showcase the brilliance of your product and people. 

Once you've found some high-quality candidates, retaining them on your team is important. 

How To Retain Top Sales Talent

Here are a few tips for doing so: 

1. Offer competitive compensation and benefits packages.

Money will always be a major factor in deciding whether or not to stay with a company. As I talked about in The New Employee Contract, money stops being a motivator after our financial needs have been met. The thing is, a lot of us out there haven’t quite hit that target. So, and you don’t need me to tell you this: Money matters most until you hit that point. So, ensure your compensation and benefits packages are competitive with other companies in your industry.

 

2. Provide opportunities for professional development.

Top performers always look for ways to improve their skills and advance their careers. Offer regular training opportunities and encourage your team members to seek external development opportunities, such as attending industry conferences or taking online courses. I hear at Cirrus Insight that they offer Master Classes for their internal teams on things like email subject line writing in order to increase open rates and conversions for the sales team. That’s exactly the kind of thing you should look to emulate.

 

3. Create a positive work environment.

Assuming your sales team’s financial need is being met, a positive work environment is one of the most important factors in retaining top talent. Make sure your team members feel like they are part of something bigger than themselves and that they are valued team members. positive-work-environmentAt Suzy, we create clear and simple commission plans that are market tested. I think we even extend the generosity in our commission plans to include both individual and team performance. Too often, I have seen commission plans that try to account for every possible outcome, which is incredibly impossible but also frustrating to understand. For instance, a company may try to plan out a commission payment that has many different nuances and outcomes, or they make it so complex like paying a different percentage for different product lines.  I remember my first recruiting job had a commission plan that would challenge even the brightest math minds to figure out. 

Conclusion: 

Recruiting and retaining high-quality sales talent is essential for building a successful sales team. By following the tips outlined in this blog post, you can find top performers and keep them on your team for the long haul. Creating a positive work environment where employees feel valued is one of the most important factors in retention, so make sure that's a priority as you build your dream team.

Anthony Onesto
Anthony Onesto

Anthony Onesto is a leading expert and published author on culture, human resources, and talent. He joined the Suzy Team to help scale and drive its mission and vision around culture, talent, and human resources. Anthony brings a unique approach to Human Resources, using design thinking principles to build a human-centered and fearless organization. Suzy has won Inc, Forbes, and Built-In Best Workplace awards in 2021 and 2022. Grab a copy of the book here -> https://amzn.to/36HgHN9

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