Hiring Sales Talent? – No Easy Path for Mid Cap and Industrial Companies

Or…. what does the FORTUNE® “100 Best companies to work for” have to do with me?

 If you are a C suite member, President, Investor or HR Director in manufacturing, distribution or a medium sized company, you have faced the challenge of finding and hiring sales people and sales managers.

The March 2019 issue of Fortune Magazine®, “100 Best companies to work for” reflects your problem. Look at the list – Hilton, SAP, Stryker, Genentech, REI, Power Home Remodeling, Sheetz….. most companies each show hundreds of jobs open and some thousands! That is your competition for talent. Placing an ad on the internet once in a while isn’t going to find you great sales people and top notch talent for your team…… it takes work and commitment. Constant, targeted, sustainable work and effort, or you’ll only end up with poor resumes to compare, high turnover, under-performance.

In spite of search engines, software solutions & digital HR talent resources, hiring talented sales people that succeed in your organization is harder now than ever before.   


  1. Initial Scarcity: Nobody goes to college and studies ‘sales’ as their Major. For most people, entering the sales profession is by default, so the good ones are hard to identify, and then big companies swoop them up. How does a medium sized company or manufacture compete for talent with Google, Comcast, FMC, Aramark, Amazon, PwC, Fin Tec, social media and retail glitz or SEO marketing companies for the best graduates? Not.
  2. Job Movement: selling successfully is not just a keen smile and pleasant disposition. You have to actually know the product, industry, culture of the buyers and be an informed resource. You have to establish success and know how to make a living for a while to prove yourself. This takes time; as sales people jump from market to market, job to job, they do not capture experience, education and value in a specific field. Hiring managers are faced with hiring  under experienced, modestly successful sales people, a bigger risk.
  3. Reliance on Sales Software: people sell, not a CRM. SF.com®, as universally accepted and innovative as it is, does not sell anything, it just records and monitors activity. Qualifying the prospects, providing guidance during complex sales cycles, overcoming impediments, out maneuvering competitors and closing the deal is a personal achievement, completed by hard work & good selling skills, not by entering keystrokes in a CRM.  
  4. Bad Hiring practices & using the internet: employment search engines like Zip Recruiter, Indeed and LinkedIn are great for many jobs; selling is too complex, there are too many variables to match a sales person with your FIT. Post your sales job online and you’ll get many unqualified responses very quickly, no value. Search engines don’t know your products, costs, sales cycles, travel demands, call points, specifications, how to manage a territory & influencing factors, sales compensation, quota demands y/y/y, how the candidates talks, writing skills or if they have a sense of humor. These and a hundred other factors are only one round of candidate comparison. Any good ‘sales resumes’ you get still need you to do all the work of qualifying them, sorting them out and guess what…..you don’t do this full time. It is very time consuming to find great sales talent that has proven success with your specific market, buyers, culture and has stayed on the job for years. The hiring search engines are good for some jobs, but lousy for sales people and sales managers because that is too complex and too important to your revenue.
  5. Timing: most companies put themselves in a sales dilemma because they wait until somebody quits or is fired to replace that sales person. Then, they rush around to fill the gap and make poor decisions, often leading to turn over and bad sales results. Look ahead folks! Companies should constantly be on the prowl for their next great territory manager, account rep or a better sales manager. Build your team ahead, don’t wait until your competitors are capturing your customers or geography. Get better sales people on the bench to replace underperformers and plan for the time when your top producer says…..”I am out of here”.  Act, don’t react.

Using Recruiters as Consultants – most companies between $5 million and $75 million in sales volume have outside legal counsel, risk advisors, medical insurance consultants, outside advisors for QC and productivity, outside auditors, outside safety and OSHA consultants. Typically your most important goal is increasing REVENUE.  Who is your sales recruiter to find and refer better sales people & revenue generating talent for you? Get one that knows sales people.