By Dan Fantasia, Sales Recruiting Thought Leader – Treeline Inc.
Consider this a must-read message for all sales managers.
If you’re looking to advance your sales management career, being seen as a thought leader for your company is critical. Thought leaders inspire people on a deep level. They light the way. This article is for anyone looking to hone their sales management skills, be seen as a thought leader and continue to climb the executive ladder.
To be successful in sales management, you have to recruit proficiently! Recruiting is one of the most underestimated skills required to grow and sustain your career as a sales leader. If you don’t value recruiting, you put your own career at risk. After all, recruiting is essential for scaling a business, achieving targets and growing revenue.
If you can’t find the right people to hop on your bus, it’s impossible to reach your destination! You need passionate people with a shared camaraderie. Otherwise, you will wonder why you can’t build a top-producing sales team and why your competitors keep winning.
It all goes back to one thing: making recruiting one of your most important leadership skills.
Books, blogs and online videos on this topic all say something similar. They share insights from highly successful CEOs, CROs and VPs of Sales. Universally, these thought leaders say hiring the right people has been an essential success factor throughout their careers. Still, many sales managers often don’t take that message to heart. As a result, they wonder why they never make it to the C-suite.
Without building your recruiting skills, you will struggle to see progression in your career. Sales leaders have to take recruiting as seriously as they take hitting their quota.
So, What Is Recruiting as a Leadership Skill?
Principally, a leader is defined by the ability to promote a vision and create excitement. This critical ability attracts top talent. You’ll need to amass top talent if you want to achieve outrageous goals!
At Treeline, we’ll often talk to an executive team that has gone through a world-class training program. They learn how to build a job description and identify the skills required to be a successful producer. They learn how to interview, onboard, motivate, manage, coach and mentor their team. They learn the right philosophy to scale people and their company. Subsequently, they’re ready to go, but the one thing they don’t have is a pipeline of qualified candidates banging down their door.
No one has taught them how to find and recruit the people they need. Without an aggressive recruiting strategy, you will never get access to the stellar talent you need to exponentially scale your company.
Five Must-Do Things to Build Your Recruiting Leadership Skills
- Make Recruiting Your Top Priority
In short, your entire enterprise must learn that sales recruiting is the company’s highest priority. After all, recruiting well grows three important elements for your business
Therefore, recruiting can never be a backburner task. It must always receive focused energy and substantial resources.
Sales Recruiting is a very difficult job. It features diverse highs and lows and outrageous turnover. Companies burn time and struggle with recruiting because
- People are unpredictable.
- Candidates will ghost you.
- Sales People deceive you.
- Humans reschedule interviews.
- People don’t come prepared.
- Candidates reject offers.
- Others accept counteroffers.
- You only want to hire purple unicorns.
Those challenges make burnout easy, especially if you’ve been tasked with finding real talent to fill sales positions.
As a result, internal resources are constantly limited and unable to deliver the required talent. New resources struggle and lose their drive, so you never get the traction you need or access to the talent you require to be successful in your job.
Alternatively, outsourcing these services is exceptionally effective. Using a sales recruiting firm that trains its employees well and has years of experience and a network to back up its brand is extremely helpful when growing your team. Supplementing your team’s efforts is well worth the cost.
At Treeline, we’ve built our network through 22 years of enthusiastic persistence. Internal teams simply don’t have access to the talent that we offer.
- Learn How to Sell
This one may seem obvious, but on our intake calls with clients, we often speak to CROs and VPs who simply can’t give a good reason why a person should join their company. That should be an easy question to answer. Learning to sell your company to prospective hires is essential for recruiting real talent.
Unfortunately, we typically encounter confusion on our intake calls because the first thing many people think about is their product line or competitive edge. Instead, I encourage you to answer the question from two perspectives:
- Your company’s tech, products and other impressive elements
- Your personal reasons for joining the company
That second perspective offers the opportunity to cover intangibles. It lets you go beyond products and salary, so you can show your prospective hire the special details about your company they can’t discover online.
In the interview, you can understand a candidate’s personality characteristics, identify a strong match and show them your vision of the firm. A candidate interviewing for a job is trying to understand
- Why is this company a great place to work?
- Why would I want to work here?
To discover the right people, you need to transparently sell your company, culture, environment, challenges and why you joined. By doing that, you’ll also help candidates figure out if your company is a good fit for them. Universally, people ask, “What’s in it for me?” If you richly answer that question, you will find a great, genuine match.
I want to reiterate that your answer must go beyond money. Certainly, compensation matters, but comp is not a reliable tool for winning over loyal talent. When comp is the only card you have to play, you should expect a top candidate to seriously consider a counter offer or competitor’s offer.
- Assume No One Wants to Work at Your Company
If you want to recruit people, don’t pound your chest and make them jump through all kinds of crazy hoops just to enjoy the privilege of working with you. There’s no need to make them feel like a subordinate before they’re even an employee of your company.
Isn’t recruiting about genuinely helping both parties figure out if this is a good match? No one wants to be deceived.
Making candidates shake in their loafers is outdated. It encourages workplace toxicity and discourages your team’s capacity to hit its quarterly numbers. Today’s workplace is collaborative, so you should encourage a collaborative interview process. Work with candidates not against them. It’s okay to dig in and press to get the answers you need, but don’t drill them throughout the process, make sure you’re giving them an equal opportunity to dig in with you. You want to sew mutual interest and loyalty, not discord.
If you create a bunch of needless hoops, the best candidates won’t take your job because they recognize a negative environment that is selfishly pointed toward the company. Forcing people to beg for an opportunity will leave you with a team of the worst salespeople. Those are the only people willing to endure the process. They have few other options.
On the other hand, if you assume that no one needs your job, you will work harder to sell them on working at your company. To beat the competition, focus on winning the talent pool. Lead the recruiting charge in your field because people love to talk with you. They want to be part of your team. Don’t be the company that no one wants to interview with because of an outdated methodology.
I’m not saying don’t qualify people or don’t interview for the right skills for your company. I’m just suggesting that you should assume A-level players don’t want the job, and it is up to you to figure out how to win their attention and get them excited. If you can’t attract rockstar reps, it’s very difficult to build a top-producing sales organization. Lead the interview process with a carrot, not a stick, and you will find great talent to hire.
- Move Faster, Please!
When companies have outdated, slow interview processes, we always advise them to speed things up. They always agree and say multiple people have suggested this over the years, but they still don’t change.
Interview processes remain slow when a company does not prioritize them or cannot get all decision makers on the same page. Until that changes, you can’t move with speed.
You can only be successful in your crucial role by recruiting top sales talent. Suppose you have a $1.2 million territory that becomes open. If slow recruiting tactics lead to it staying open for three months, you lose a quarter of that revenue. That $300,000 should be your primary urgency driver because making up that revenue is incredibly hard.
So, what is your strategy?
You need a dedicated resource that knows what they’re doing or the budget to go outside of the corporation to get assistance. Bluntly, you need to do something to make sure you’re still employed in 12 months.
Get the resources you need. Make sure everyone moves with speed and urgency. Figure out how to close new employees within a two-week time frame. If you know what colleagues are participating in the interview process, ask them to open up their calendar to save certain interview days. If you find a candidate you like, get them to open their calendar. Set up an interview. Move forward.
The team needs to be on the same page and realize they need speed and urgency. If you can’t move that quickly, you won’t be able to hire the talent you need. Without support from the company, there’s no way you can find success as a leader.
- Insist on Getting the Resources You Need
Sales recruiting is tough, so you have to get the resources you need. If your internal recruiting team is focused on any other department outside of Sales, they will fill those roles first because it’s easier to recruit for Engineering, Finance or Operations. They would rather focus on low-hanging fruit.
Let’s remember that high-dollar territory I mentioned earlier. Suppose you were down two people in similar territories for a quarter. Now, you’re off your number by $600,000. How are you supposed to catch up by the end of the year? I can tell you right now talented VPs hit their headcount goals because if they don’t, at the end of the year, they will find themselves looking for a new position.
The inability to hire talent is directly correlated to your inability to hit your quotas. If no one else in the company considers sales hiring a priority, you need to break the rules and selfishly figure out how you can hire the right people for your team.
Sales is a very difficult skill set to match, so internal recruiters typically push these openings aside. You may think everyone cares as much about making your hires as you, but they don’t. It is your responsibility. You are accountable. You have to figure out how to get this job done. Insist on the resources you need, so you can hire the right people.
Fix the problem!
Love your internal team. Give them support, but if they can’t produce, make sure you have the resources to get the job done. Insist on new sales recruiters if necessary.
Recruiting is an ongoing, critical task
Master those five skills, and never take them for granted. Digest them over the next few minutes, and make tweaks that incorporate your unique knowledge. While these five skills sound very simple and basic, they are required to be successful in your role. You have to master recruiting as a leadership skill.
Understanding the importance of recruiting is critical to your success in meeting your goals and growing your company. Build a team with functional accountability, depth and belief in a contagiously fun vision of exponential growth.
Throughout your career, you will hire and lose great performers for many different reasons. So, when you’re on a high and crushing it, you will also need to be prepared to be on a low because you’ve lost a top representative.
The best leaders know how to recruit, and they know recruiting is an ongoing, critical task. They have resources and playbooks to make sure anytime they’re at a loss, they can fill that role within 30 days because they know how to get it done. They’ve repeatedly done it for years and know that consistency is the key to sustaining their talent pipeline and finding great people year after year. They don’t get handed a top-producing team, burn them out and not know how to refill those positions.
They know how to build teams. They know how to lose people and hire around them, and they know how to help build consistent, rock-solid sales organizations.
This recruiting leadership skill is required for top leaders, and to be number one in your field, you need to successfully recruit annually. Do it for a decade to become one of the most highly regarded sales leaders in your industry.
Talk to Treeline
Often, when you insist on the resources you need to hire sales reps, the solution is an external team of dedicated executive recruiters. When you reach out to Treeline, you can tap into our diverse, unparalleled network of talent, which we’ve cultivated over 22 years. We’ll be happy to answer your questions about recruiting as a leadership skill, too. Connect with us today or visit our resource page www.treelineinc.com/sales-recruiting/resources!