Although unemployment has stabilised in the UK in 2015, it has become tougher than ever to hire the right IT sales staff for technology companies.
There has never been a better time to hire additional sales heads and companies should be actively investing in people with passion and drive to grow the business. The majority of the businesses I have recruited for over the past 18 years have operated in the IT sector. When you are offering a product or service to clients, the most important asset is always the people who work for you. Therefore, to distinguish yourself from rival firms you have to ensure that your sales staff are the best in the market, no matter the size of the business.
1) Right messaging
The first step before you meet any candidate is to get the right message out to the market. Do you have a detailed job description? Does it provide enough of a compelling success story for candidates to want to join?
Unfortunately for the majority of companies that are not Google or Facebook, candidates will not be beating down their door to join them.
Being an employer of choice is challenging and difficult to maintain. Your brand and message to the market is key to attracting the right candidates. If you use recruitment consultancies, test them on their message of your company in the market. Are they representing your company in the way you want them to? If not, educate them or find ones that can.
2) Recruitment process
All companies need a concise and thought-out recruitment process, which is aimed at finding and hiring the top people in your chosen sector. A random approach to recruitment will have a direct correlation to the quality of the people you take on. Your job advert has to be well thought out and include all the necessary detail, but also ensure the salary level is competitive compared with the rest of the market. Make it stand out from the competition, emphasising how great the business and the role are.
3) Cultural fit
To ensure you attract and retain the best candidates you have to identify if they are the right fit for your business. You need to understand key things such as: how will they operate in the business? What motivates them to come to work every day? Do they understand the role? How will they add value? Does their personality fit the culture of the business? One wrong hire can really affect a culture or a team, so this needs to be taken seriously when adding sales heads.
4) Right leadership in place
What makes a great leader? Management theorist Simon Sinek suggests it is someone who makes their employees feel secure; who draws employees into a circle of trust. But creating trust and safety – especially in an uneven economy – means taking on big responsibility. I'm a huge fan of Simon's work and his book Leaders Eat Last. So many companies feel they do the candidate a favour by offering them a job when in reality it's the other way around. If you can create a leadership model whereby people feel part of something, they will grow the business for you. Good candidates want to work for good leaders.
5) Senior hires (sales managers/sales directors)
When it comes to hiring sales managers or sales directors, a different strategy should be in place. When somebody is an expert in their field, and they have been working in the industry for many years, changing roles is much more of risk for their careers. The successful ones will be very well looked after, some locked in with EMI schemes, stock and golden handcuffs to ensure they stay. With this is mind, you need to show them how they can benefit professionally and personally from the move. This courtship could take months, so be prepared to be patient and plan well ahead for the move.
Hiring the right salespeople can transform your business but getting the right process in place is just as important and will save you a lot of time. If you have people working for you who are passionate about the business, it sends out a great message to the market, which in turn will attract bigger players to your senior team.
Marc Sumner is managing director of Robertson Sumner
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