HR And Sales Recruiting: Some Common Errors

By May 20, 2018 September 24th, 2018 Uncategorized

When it comes to recruiting, most companies rely on their in-house experts: the HR department. But does your HR department know what questions to ask, and to look out for ,when hiring top-notch salespeople?

There are a few common things that HR can miss, because recruiting for sales is a different beast than hiring for other departments. So let’s break down a couple issues that can arise for HR when they’re hiring for sales.

It’s Not HR’s Fault

HR is great at what they do. They make sure that employees feel happy and valued. They are managing daily issues in various departments to make sure everyone is working well together and moving toward the shared goals of the organization.

And they hire new employees.

When it comes down to it, most HR departments know a LOT about hiring. (Which is why a good sales recruiter listens to HR and keeps them in the loop during the recruiting process.) They know the company, they know the various roles within the company.

They know what’s expected of a sales role on paper. The travel requirements, the compensation, the specific experiences that salespeople have reported in the position.

That doesn’t mean that they know precisely what to look for when it comes to indicators of sales success. And that leads to mistakes.

Here’s the problem: HR departments are usually great at hiring and recruiting based of resumes. They look at relevant experience, see what matches up, and determine fit. Which works when it comes to most roles, and most types of experience.

But resumes are all words, and determining sales success is about action. How can you look past the words on a resume and determine if this candidate has the right stuff to succeed in this role?

It’s specialized knowledge of the inner workings of sales that can help identify those markers. And without it, it can lead to two common errors: hiring the wrong person, or missing the right one.

Hiring The Wrong Fit

Salespeople sell themselves. It’s what they do. Which is great when they are selling your products and services and putting themselves enthusiastically behind what you stand for.

But keep in mind: they’re also selling themselves to your HR department.

What happens when you have a candidate who isn’t the best fit for the role, but they are very good at selling themselves? They’re over-optimistic. They’re overconfident. They have a ‘recipe for success’ that sounds great, and that they can rattle off effortlessly.

Confidence is great. So is having a plan for success. But at the interview stage, how can you tell what’s actual ability, and what is just talk?

Through no fault of their own, HR doesn’t know sales. They may not know if the success cookbook they just heard is accurate based on experience. They may not know what follow-up questions to ask.

Talk is cheap, which is why sales recruiters don’t just settle for overconfidence. It’s important to push back on confident candidates to make sure that they can back up their confidence. A great sales recruiter will have the candidate walk through their process at great detail, asking follow up questions where the process seems weak or unrealistic. They may even role-play based on common objections for their industry.

Optimism is good… but when it comes to hiring a candidate, realism is better.

Hiring the wrong fit is a costly mistake for a company to make, so being able to properly vet enthusiastic candidates is absolutely crucial.

Passing Over The Right Fit

Passing over a good candidate for the wrong reasons doesn’t have as high a price tag as hiring the wrong candidate.

But a missed opportunity is a missed opportunity. And those tend to add up.

Again, let’s talk about what HR is amazing at: they are really great at identifying issues that the company has as far as culture, required industry experience, and the hiring manager’s expectations for the role. If you asked them to make a new-hire checklist, they could probably do it in their sleep.

But here’s the issue: sales is weird. We’ll be the first ones to admit it.

The markers of sales success are not found in industry experience, or a list of previous positions. Sales potential doesn’t really come across on a resume. Sometimes, to find the best fit for the role, it pays to think outside the checklist.

Here’s an example: let’s say an advertising agency is looking for an account sales representative. They have been having a lot of success with their digital sales department, but traditional advertising hasn’t been hitting the right numbers. So the hiring manager turns to HR. They need a new representative to boost sales in the traditional advertising department.

Now, HR takes that information. And being great at understanding the expectations of the hiring manager, they start combing resumes for folks with experience in traditional ads.

There’s a candidate that would be perfect for the role. They have all the traits that would lead them to success. But their experience has been almost exclusively in digital advertising. So HR passes them over. They don’t need digital guys.

A good sales recruiter understands that previous industry experience isn’t an indicator of success when it comes to sales numbers. Other types of experience may carry over, too. What’s more important are factors like:

  • Whether they are supportive of other team members
  • They are coachable and trainable
  • They know how to overcome adversity in the sales process

Using previous industry experience as a checklist can be a big hindrance when it comes to finding the best people. Which is why sales recruiters will be open to candidates from all sorts of industries and gauge them for success based on the role, the company, and the team.

Do you need a sales recruiter to work with your HR department to discover the best possible candidates for your sales team? EAM Staffing would love to talk to you. We build successful sales teams for any industry. Contact us to learn more about our process.