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The Center for Sales Strategy Blog

Improving Sales Performance… It Starts with Recruiting!


Many sales organizations miss revenue goals because they are understaffed and have open sales positions. This silent killer of productivity is a problem for many reasons: 

  • Accounts on “open” lists are neglected, and billing suffers (billing decline).
  • Accounts on “open” lists are neglected to a point that causes the account to depart (total loss of billing).
  • Accounts on “open” lists are assigned to other sellers—this usually negatively impacts the seller’s new business development and time spent with regular customers.
  • Accounts on “open” lists are assigned to a manager already taxed with too much to do (see the first two items on this list for the potential outcome). 

Reactive Versus Proactive Recruiting

Open positions occur because most sales organizations do not have a talent bank—ready, willing, and able candidates—and they practice reactive recruiting.

Here are a couple of working definitions that will add some clarity to this issue: 

  • reactive recruiting: engaging in the search for salespeople only when an open position exists.
  • proactive recruiting: engaging in the search for salespeople on an ongoing basis with the intent of building a talent bank of ready, willing, and able candidates.  

Here’s a list of symptoms of reactive recruiting:

  • Interview blitzes only when a position is open, causing the manager to neglect other important managerial tasks.
  • Lack of a defined selection process that causes hiring to take a long time (this often causes the best candidates to take positions from other companies or self-select out of the process).
  • Panic hiring, resulting in hiring candidates who do not possess the proper talents and experiences. A warm body often appears to be a better option than an open position.

Moving from Reactive to Proactive Recruiting

Here is a process to follow to make the switch to proactive recruiting and building a talent bank:

  • Create KPIs—key performance indicators—related to the number of open sales positions and the average number of days open sales positions exist (perhaps a KPI for the company and a KPI for each sales organization within the company).
  • After the KPIs are created develop a plan to improve (lower) KPIs and reduce the number of open positions and number of days open positions exist.  
  • A plan to do this should include:
    • Create a talent bank form or spreadsheet. It is usually a wise move to break out the talent bank based on the various type of positions in the organization (entry level, mid-level or tenured level).
    • Set goals on the number of candidates to add to the talent bank weekly, monthly, quarterly.
    • Modify the selection process of the organization. Be sure to include the use of questions/assessments related to innate sales talents as well as an evaluation of required experience and trainable skills.
    • Develop tactical methods to find candidates to add to the talent bank.

Check out this ebook for some great ideas: 10 Innovative Ideas to Help Recruit Your Next Great Salesperson

Button to Download the All-In-One Guide to Exceptional Recruitment




Topics: hiring salespeople sales performance