While we are recruiting for sales roles for technology firms, I am hearing a lot of frustration from Sales VP hiring managers these days regarding the sales talent that internal recruiting efforts have produced for them for additional headcount or replacements these days. And quite as often they have equal disappointment bordering on contempt for the broad middle and lower quintiles of their current team!
Disdainful comments abound: "All hat, no cattle." "Blowhard", "Unaccountable Finger-pointer". And in the ultimate insult to business performance of any kind, a Sales VP quoted Casey Stengel: "Can't anybody here play this game?"
The generation of sales managers we recuit for are generally from the age cohort that grew up with, value and demand strong phone skills: prospecting, follow-up, good note-taking, attention to detail, follow-up and follow-through. And these are the skills and behaviors they are looking for in their sales reps. They respect phone and in-person communications skills above all else, and want salespeople who have that activity foremost in their workday, and show it with everyday "hustle". To them, the phone and the handshake are still the killer apps for sales. All the other tools are complementary to that core activity. And this goes for Enterprise sales achievers working with global 2000 accounts, all the way to SMB sales reps working on VoIP, Hosted Exchange and cloud-based infrastructure.
With all the other sales and marketing tools out there, big deals still have to be sold to and closed by SOMEBODY. And that means Sales Talent is in higher demand. My clients want to candidates to show them how they work, what they sell and to which markets, and their methods to achieving those ends.
Which leads me to ask: How do Sales VPs unearth talent and build outstanding sales teams? They need to use multiple avenues to build candidate pipelines (referrals, active and passive recruiting by internal HR and trusted partnerships with a select (ie manageable) list of dedicated sales recruiting agencies. And then follow through by interviewing nearly continuously to unearth those exceptional candidates that will thrive in their environment.
Are you a High-performance, Low-maintenance door-opening, overachiever brimming with intitiative, business spark, technical acumen and can close when it counts? How do you get this across to hiring managers in interviews? Where did you hone your phone skills? Where did you get your coaching on presenting to technical and non-technical audiences?
I'm always interested to hear about how sales reps landed that great job, or those (usually early) lessons and teachers that sharpened strong sales performers focus and skills.