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Employee Engagement | 8 minute read

The Blueprint: 4 Ways to Attract Top Passive Sales Talent

December 12, 2017

Sales is the highest priority role that companies are recruiting for right now. Making matters more complex, sales is the third most difficult role to recruit for. In addition, passive talent makes up 75 percent of the global workforce, with only 45 percent of these candidates being “open” to speaking with a recruiter – making passive sales professionals in particular harder to find using traditional search methods, harder to engage with, and ultimately harder to land.

What does all of this mean for 2018? The global unemployment rate is ever-narrowing, and companies are increasingly being challenged to locate, engage and land the best sales talent. Toward this end, the following explores four actionable ways talent leaders and strategists can begin the process of getting today’s best passive sales talent to listen!

Simply stated, people trust their current and former colleagues, friends and/or family more than they trust marketing or advertising campaigns. In fact, Jobvite lists sales as the No. 1 field in terms of highest employee referral hiring. Further, 76 percent of professionals rank employee referrals as being of "high" to "extremely high" importance. Factoring in the research and the importance of trust in today's too often un-trusting environment, job referrals have become a business imperative.

When recruiting top sales candidates, it’s vital to keep in mind that the best sales representatives are being targeted by multiple organizations. It’s not only important for hiring managers to be sold on a candidate; it’s equally important, if not more so, to sell the passive sales talent on your opportunity! These professionals take stock of the sentiments offered by people they know and trust. Examine your referral program, and ensure your workforce understands what’s in it for them.

Just last week Glassdoor released its 10th annual list of Best Places to Work. Why does this matter? Glassdoor has approximately 35 million reviews and insights for approximately 700,000 companies. In addition, more than 48 million unique users visit Glassdoor’s mobile applications and website on a monthly basis (i.e., 1.6 million users per day). Undoubtedly, what candidates and employees think of your company matters, whether that’s the employee experience, candidate journey, interview process or your benefits package. And today, these professionals are using their empowered platforms to make career decisions and share every inch of their experiences.

While such transparency may incite fear for some companies, platforms like Glassdoor serve as an incredible opportunity to market your company, brands, culture and the people who comprise each of these components. More than 70 percent of job seekers consider an employer’s brand before applying, 84 percent of job seekers would consider leaving their current company if another with an excellent reputation offered them a job, and a significant number of professionals say they will decline a job opportunity from an employer with a bad reputation − even if they were unemployed.

On the latest episode of the Canadian Professional Sales Association (CPSA) Recruitment and Talent podcast, Paul Dodd, WilsonHCG Head of Canadian Engagement, said it best: “Your sales team (with the exception of your recruiters) is the face of your organization. The message and attitude they communicate to future customers can make or break a sale. If they aren’t on board with your employee value proposition and employment brand, this will come across in their conversations. Customers and clients want to invest their time and money in businesses that have happy, engaged employees. They’ll be able to tell the state of this very quickly when speaking with salespeople.”

Ultimately, sales professionals − regardless of what they’re selling − needs to respect and value the brands and cultures they work for. They’re often selling your products, your solutions and/or your company. Take stock of your brand, and evaluate ways in which you can further improve. From here, examine how your culture is impacting the overall employment brand. It’s not a fun marketing aspect; it’s integral to your bottom line, especially if you’re hoping to attract today’s best passive salest talent.

The Sales Benchmark Index encourages companies to provide candidates with a description of each territory with viable candidates (i.e., be sure to list accounts, industry, geography and/or segment) and how much commission has been generated over the past two years.

Top sales candidates want to know how employers determine territory configuration and how frequently it changes − on the front end, without having to undertake significant amounts of digging or an overly long interview process. They also want specific examples of how companies handle account transition. It's also imperative that, after the hard work of winning an account, efforts are rewarded and any concerns of time to transition to another account is alleviated.

Compensation matters; it always has and always will. However, also according to Paul Dodd, “Today, compensation and monetary rewards are only a small piece of the puzzle for sales candidates. If they’re investing their time and careers in your company − they now expect certain aspects in return. Most importantly, they want to make an impact and want to be with a company that is going to encourage their growth and career aspirations. Your talent wants to know they're valued, that you're confident in their efforts and ability, and that you show genuine recognition for high performance.”

Ultimately, top sales talent wants the opportunity to continue developing and honing their craft. In fact, according to the Deloitte 2017 Global Human Capital Trends report, which features research from 10,000 business and HR leaders across 140 countries, “improving employee careers and transforming corporate learning” is the second most important priority. People of all generations are demanding more and, to outpace the competition leading organizations need to offer the opportunity for personal and professional growth.

As noted above, in the latest episode of the CPSA Recruitment and Talent podcast, host Kevin Grossman (Talent Board President of Global Programs) and Paul Dodd delve into strategies leading companies are taking to attract the best sales professionals. Specifically, they answer why employment brand matters to passive sales talent, what candidates look for in an employer beyond monetary rewards, and how important it is to hire salespeople who connect with your brands. Listen in here!

[PODCAST] Developing an Employment Brand and Attracting the Best Salespeople

About WilsonHCG

WilsonHCG is an award-winning, global leader in total talent solutions. Operating as a strategic partner, it helps some of the world’s most admired brands build comprehensive talent functions. With a global presence spanning more than 65 countries and six continents, WilsonHCG provides a full suite of configurable talent services including recruitment process outsourcing (RPO), executive search, contingent talent solutions and talent consulting. TALENT.™ It’s more than a solution, it’s who we are.