How to conduct sales recruitment program successfully?

A strong sales force is a critical requirement for every business operation to succeed well. I do not think any reader of my blog will differ with me on this aspect. Experienced sales personnel with proven records of accomplishment are difficult to recruit through simple screening CVs by internet job portals; particularly, at senior levels, even one rung above front-end positions! Human behavior and thought process among sales professionals cannot be judged by a pure HR professional. If the recruiter has a sales background it becomes easier for him to take care of blind spots in the sales recruitment program. As a consultant, I need to add value by asking the appropriate questions while probing in the interview process. Domain (read ‘Sales’) specific knowledge becomes essential to have, more than being aware of usual parameters like job stability, relationship building skills’ – general queries raised by a HR professional.

1. First, Develop an outline – what do you want from the sales job applicant? In today’s fast paced business activities, there is not much time to train any joiner. We are looking for ready made solutions as much as possible. Decide how much sales experience and interpersonal skills is needed for this position, and establish the ideal characteristics for the right employee.

2. Define the areas where you would not mind to compromise – Let me narrate a situation: I was looking to fill up a regional sales position in a Printer manufacturing company. Well, I got the right candidate..a brilliant guy.. but he had changed quite a few jobs more than what the Client HR team wanted. He was ready to join and I knew I had found the right person who could bring in lot of sales that was not happening at present, increase market share that would become irreversible once done, identify new growth areas etc – and I was willing to compromise on the stability factor. Reason – my client needed a ‘live wire’ sales guy! HR did not agree and kept the position open; sales suffered for a long time.

3. Be realistic in your expectations. No one has a Magic wand! Well, nobody has found one, neither did I in my long sales career.

4. Select the right recruiting method/ Agency that would suit your company business model. One cannot apply the same recruiting method everywhere. Hire the right agency, study their company profile first. A pharmacy company expects a different method compared to what a consumer durable/ office automation trading company does. Role specific recruiting expertise comes in handy to avoid pitfalls.

5. Sometimes, just poaching the candidates from the competition is the only right method. Every Agency or consultant cannot do it right when it comes to poaching!

6. Timely feedback from the client is helpful. Trust develops with open communication lines. I find that certain HR professionals among my clientele do not find it even necessary to explain their actions. If you can inform your consultant the reasons for not hiring, a lot of time and effort will be saved in candidate search next time. Also, the recruitment consultant feels nice about the process of right feedback.

7. A simple ‘thank you’ call/ email and an explanation for not hiring – to the rejected candidate – helps in building better relationships who could be potential candidates some other time.

Recruitment is a continuous process of learning and improvement, just like any other business. ‘We become You’ in our candidate search, approach and concern and strive to get the best fit to meet your recruitment needs. For more information, visit

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