How to Attract and Hire the Best B2B Sales People

How B2b companies attract or vet sales people (2) (1)
Lionseye insights from AC Lion

B2B companies face a daunting task — vying for the attention of elite salespeople with a specific expertise and day-one revenue potential. Some B2B sales can’t be taught, and it can be difficult to find, much less attract, the best candidates for a position. The market is smaller, and everyone knows everyone in some industries.

A good salesperson in the modern B2B landscape knows technology and people, automation and personalization, acquisition and closing. How do successful B2B companies attract and vet these kinds of salespeople? Here are some best practices you can count on.

Promoting Company Culture

Believe it or not, the best salespeople these days don’t consider money their top priority. The salary, commission and benefits you offer must certainly be competitive, but your company support system and culture is just as important. Elite salespeople are more concerned with the opportunity to grow than they are about next week’s paycheck.

You can improve your employer brand through a number of vehicles – employee testimonials, PR events, authenticity alignment, partnerships – but the most important step is having a singular message for new employees. You need to promote your culture in every job description and employee interaction. Where does this come from? Authentically being a great place to work. Why do people enjoy coming to work for you? If your turnover rate is high, have you diagnosed the problem?

Bird’s Eye Vision

The modern salesperson, especially those with an established presence, are looking for a bigger reason to come to work in the morning. Ideally, your company is revenue-driven so that it can afford to have a bigger vision. If your employees find value in their work, they are 3X less likely to leave, 1.7X more satisfied and 1.4X more likely to engage deeply in the work on a daily basis.

This also folds back into company culture. Long-term employees give a company a stronger culture, which you can use to attract the next generation to your company.

Aggressive Recruitment

Elite salespeople don’t stay on the market for very long. In general, the best candidates in all industries stay on the market for around 10 days. If you’re looking for the best, you don’t have time to waste! Cutting to the chase doesn’t mean spamming the digital world with your job description, however. That will only bring you more unqualified candidates, creating more work for your HR department and putting more noise between you and the right people.

A much more effective way to be aggressive is to slash all the fat in your application process. If you’re targeting elite salespeople, don’t treat them like newbies with all sorts of tests, unpaid trials, or three-step interviews. Do not try to automate the hiring process beyond the initial intake, because you are dealing with savvy people who wield the power of choice. You can expect up to 60% of your applicants to move on to greener pastures if your application process is too difficult.

Vetting Your Choices

If you attract a good crop of candidates, you may find yourself at a crossroads. Ideally, you want to come away from the hiring process thinking that you had to make a difficult decision and prioritize the strengths of your candidates (basically, you’ve got too much talent for your open positions). Here are some questions you can ask to find the person who is right for you:

  • Who is telling you something that you don’t know about your industry? A great salesperson’s front line war stories can make you a lot of money, especially if you know how to empower and scale that person’s insights.
  • Who is bringing something new to your infrastructure? Does someone come to you with new sales techniques or technologies that you have not used? Perhaps they know a better way to segment customers or nurture leads. Have the discussion and take note of self-starters rather that people who are looking for a perfect system.
  • Who can train your other salespeople to sell? It’s one thing to be personally great at sales; it’s quite another to inspire the team around you. Guess which one makes the company more money? Give precedence to salespeople who show management ability.

Bridging the talent gap is essential in B2B sales, and it is not always easy to do while meeting day-to-day quotas. Translating your hiring vision into real results may take a subjective third-party perspective that can be difficult to create in-house. Finding professional help takes professional help, and you can’t afford to go wrong in the highly competitive world of B2B sales.

Alan Cutter

Alan Cutter founded New York City's premier digital media recruiting agency, AC Lion International, more than 20 years ago and continues to lead the growing company as their fearless CEO.