How to Find High-Quality Sales Talent

Sales leaders need to identify and attract new talent while reducing employee get-up-to-speed time and attrition.

“Our biggest challenge is identifying the talent we need,” said a VP of Sales Learning and Development at one energy company. “Finding people who have the competencies and experience required is getting so much tougher.”

Many sales leaders are pouring resources into all aspects of the recruiting cycle, with limited results. Part of the problem arises when recruiting efforts are limited to popular talent pools or traditional hiring criteria such as prior sales or industry experience. This traditional sourcing approach limits both the quality and quantity of available sales talent and increases overall sourcing timelines and costs.

Gartner has identified three key elements to identify talent pools and channels.

Evaluate existing talent pools

Review recruitment records from existing talent pools. Work with HR to assess how well current talent pools deliver candidates based on your role requirements and capabilities needed. Identify sources of current talent that should be retained.

Consider if current role requirements are adequate to attract high performers. Not only should candidates be screened for their ability to influence, or EQ, but also for their cognitive thinking ability (IQ).

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Identify new talent pools

Many leaders find the talent pool limited, so it’s imperative to consider alternate sources and recruiting methods. First, brainstorm alternative recruiting profiles to ensure effectiveness. Second, identify new talent pools that provide access to candidates with the required set of critical competencies. A leader at a provider of data center and managed data network services company found that salespeople’s ramp-up time, or the time it takes them to become accustomed to their role, decreased by 25% and the hiring success rate increased from 50% to 75 – 80% when improving a hiring profile and reducing emphasis on previous industry experience.

Sales leaders should stop disqualifying candidates who lack sales experience

Sales leaders should stop disqualifying candidates who lack sales experience but are proven high performers in other industries. It’s important to test the viability of hiring candidates from such talent pools. Gartner research found that applicants with different industry and functional experience exhibit high-quality sales talent potential.

Diversify candidate outreach

Engage with current employees to understand their job search behavior, and identify any untapped or undervalued recruiting channels for candidate outreach that HR can explore. Sales leaders should highlight empowering messages and job challenges to attract top candidates.

Highlight key elements in messaging to appeal to candidates:

  • Organization. The core elements of the organization that are not easily altered, such as brand, industry and location.
  • Messages. The components of the message that would immediately catch an individual candidate’s attention.
  • Events. The timing of the outreach message helps build message relevance and maximize impact.
  • Messengers. The implementation methodology that ensures the outreach message is delivered effectively.

Gartner for Sales Leaders clients can access the Ignition Guide for Sourcing High-Quality Sales Talent.