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The Center for Sales Strategy Blog

Hiring Sales People: The Best Time to Plant a Tree is 20 Years Ago


“We need to hire more sales people!” “We need to hire better sales people!” These are the cries that I hear every day from managers and executives.

While the strategy to hire more and better salespeople might be a good one, you and I know it’s just not that easy. If you are the one responsible for the hiring process and the on-boarding of these new salespeople, you are probably left wondering how you are going to get that accomplished. You are not alone!

Here are 3 things you can do today to jump-start your hiring process and begin hiring more (and better) sales people right now:

1. Determine exactly what you need.

Eliminate the phrase "we need to hire a new salesperson", and instead use very specific and descriptive words to describe exactly what you need in this job. For example, you might decide you are looking for someone who is excellent at asking questions, very detail-oriented, and loves to get people to do what he wants them to do. It’s the difference between going to the grocery store with the thought “I need to buy stuff for dinner” and heading there with a specific list of items to buy. Nailing down the specifics of what you need in this job will help you to advertise these needs to your colleagues, spot the behaviors you are looking for in candidates, and make better selections.

2. Beef up your talent bank.

Chances are you don’t have a strong talent bank to tap into right now—or you would have hired someone off your bench for your open position. Take time right now to begin filling up your talent bank. Commit to doing 20 interviews this month. This is a challenging goal and you will probably have to call upon all your resources to make it happen, but there is no better time to do it.  

3. Tap into your network. 

Ask a minimum of 10 people that you trust for three names of individuals that meet the description of what you are looking for. Be clear about the fact that you are not necessarily looking for the names of people who are looking for a job. You want the names of people that match up with the list you made earlier. Start sending out emails to the people you know today! This exercise will point you to at least 30 people that you can begin to reach out to.

As the saying goes, “The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”

Talent Resources

Topics: hiring salespeople