Thru the Candidate’s Eyes - Attracting Sales Talent
For HR leaders, a recent Harvard Business Review blog post provides a stark reminder of the difficult challenge of supporting Sales leaders in recruiting top talent. These uniquely qualified men and women are in high demand and scarce. Q4 is "hunting season" when they are most likely to make a change. The most common mistake is failing to look at the job opportunity through the eyes of the candidate. HR can help the Sales leader to improve recruiting results and play a vital role in making the sales number in 2013. Begin today with the ideas and free tools offered in this post.
Avoid a Myopic Focus
HR and Sales leaders often fail in the execution of convincing the top talent to make the career move. Most focus internally on competencies and sourcing, but not enough on what the candidate is looking for. SBI's research with top B2B producers has shown that candidates are often not convinced that the new job provides what they want.
Top Performers’ Top 5
There are 5 key motivators. Contrary to conventional wisdom money is not always #1. Here’s what top producers have told us they look for:
- Territory with abundant opportunity
- Hot product
- First-rate compensation
- Attainable quota
- Boss who can help me succeed
The role you are offering must be an upgrade. If you are a service organization, you may not have a hot product to offer. Or maybe your compensation plan is targeted at the median level. You don’t need to excel in all 5 categories. Overcome deficiencies by leveraging your strengths. For example, a weak comp rate is okay if the quota enables a top performer to earn accelerated commissions.
Assess Your Value Proposition
How does a top performer judge your offering in each of the 5 key areas? How can you provide convincing evidence during the recruiting process? Take a look at each motivator:
Abundant Territory Opportunity
Top producers demand a fair, equitable and coverable territory. A patchwork territory based on prior relationships raises a red flag. Show the candidate your fact-based territory design methodology with minimal in-year changes, where hard-won accounts do not suddenly transition to another rep or channel.
The Hot Product
The past is prelude to the future. Provide a history of your firm’s breakthrough products, show the investment in R&D, and discreetly disclose the launch schedule for the next year. Cite examples of the earnings for top performers in recent launches.
When candidates read your compensation plan, they zero in on simplicity. Warning bells sound when the plan has a confusion of rates, gates and caps on earnings. Share examples that highlight the rewards. Discuss how changes are made; a huge concern for those who have seen rates suddenly drop in mid-year.
The most frequent criticism of quotas is that they are not fact-based. Simply adding a growth rate to last year’s performance is guaranteed to alarm a top performer. They routinely exceed quota (which is why they are so valuable) yet they are commonly ‘punished’ for their success with higher quotas. Sharing your quota methodology will allay concerns.
There is little you can do about personal chemistry between the candidate and the manager. But you can equip managers with the skills needed to coach top performers. Emphasize the regular professional development of managers and earn high marks from candidates.
Assess and Upgrade Your Top 5
Assess and address your weaknesses to improve your chances. Here are ideas for each of the Top 5. Some are easy to implement; others require a dedicated project or help from outside professionals. The tools listed are available through the SBI Research Tour.
Call to Action
Prepare now for the "hunting season."
- Use the tools offered in this post to assess and upgrade
- Go after "quick wins" with small project teams; engage professionals for the bigger challenges
- Have evidence ready to share on territory design, new product pipeline, comp plan, quota methodology, and management development
- During interviews ask each candidate for their Top 5 checklist - learn what they want and hone your offering
Please comment on what you hear from candidates when you ask about their Top 5. Looking through the eyes of your candidates is guaranteed to improve your odds. Making the sales number in 2013 depends on upgrading your sales talent.
Author: John Kenney
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