Hiring Great Sales People – Bring Back The Telephone


Phone Hello

Are you planning to hire new sales staff ?   The SEEK Employment Trend  reports a projected 14% growth for sales and account management roles during 2016-2017.   This is great news as it validates business confidence and growth across  industries. 

But this buoyancy means that hiring companies must think differently on how and who they hire and develop  swift and efficient systems to capture the best in market.  Competition will be extra tough to  hire experienced sales  talent and to encourage  future superstars to enter the market. 

 Businesses cannot afford to wait up  to 6 months to hire  the  ‘perfect, mythical tick all boxes’ candidate  and lose potential sales and development in the process.  Re-alignment and a commitment to groom potential  star performers  is  critical along with a focus to the  acquisition of top  tier  talent. 

Successful  sales people always share  4 core characteristics – irrelevant of  industry sector or level of experience

  • Engaging & clear verbal communicators
  • Builders of rapport with ease
  • Hardwired to be proactive & purpose focussed
  • Naturally resilient and can bounce through objections

When I ran my recruitment agency  sales candidates were always encouraged to call us.   Each  advertisement listed a contact name and number, and  for many   sales roles  the  1st point of application was to actually telephone. Why?  Because it  quickly demonstrated if candidates had :   a/ the courage to phone, b/ had read the advert   &   c/ could sell themselves and close for an interview.   And THAT (especially closing) was and is the golden nugget in sales recruitment – proof of the  4 core characteristics above. 

Many times I was just blown away with the calibre of  candidates  without  any experience, and conversely, I was shocked at how poorly  many experienced candidates conducted themselves.  

Now admittedly,  I  come from a time  when the only way to apply for sales jobs (or any job for that matter) was via the telephone, snail mail or fax.    When I first entered my sales career at Yellow Pages I was thrown into a   hiring ethos based on   ‘demonstration vs  rhetoric’.    So I was fully wedded to flesh out great sales talent via the telephone – and it did and STILL  works brilliantly.    

What troubles me deeply is that the  hiring eco-system does not apply human discernment in the recruitment  process and baulks at encouraging any phone contact.  It’s pretty rude and arrogant (esp for higher level roles) as candidates also need and want to check queries before they spend time in sending in an official application.

You just cannot and shouldn’t apply the same hiring process to all  roles.   Wouldn’t you want to know how a sales person would contact your client, or your clients client?  That will be crystal clear in how they contact you generally.  Now I will hear many bleat :– it takes too much time, I will get bombarded with calls, I will not be able to do my other work etc.    But we are talking about sales roles here ok – so adapt and learn or move on.  

Unfortunately  some  sales people can   be lazy and just tick and flick their resumes  expecting a recruiter to jump to attention without effort on their part.    Again not the sort of talent anyone  wants.    So  a process  of  encouraging candidates to call  is smart and  efficient IF you do it well.   Further, you should be able to speed up the entire hiring  process also – which will put your own recruitment, HR, hiring company brand in a far better light.  

Tips to get the phone running well :

  1. Dedicate the time, hours and focus to handle phone calls and a proper process.   If you don’t have the resources bring in someone to do this.  Hiring sales staff has to be TOP priority – no excuses.
  2. Job advertisement – try the call first approach BEFORE you send in a CV.   Or “please send your CV to” and then CALL us to discuss.  
  3. If you are open to people without a lot of experience write in the advertisement  “We would really like you show us why you would be a great sales person with XYX so please give us a call”
  4. Set up the agenda  clearly as the way you begin minimises potential disharmony.  Thank callers genuinely for their time and interest and clarify you are chatting to  everyone for 5-10 minutes only  (this gives you an ‘out’  to quickly get off the phone and an opportunity for deeper conversations).
  5. Get in outstanding candidates ASAP.   Stop the silly  notion  of  waiting to shortlist. Great is always great – time is money.   You will risk losing top candidates if you hide behind short listing rubbish and your brand perception of efficiency will be eroded in market.  
  6. Questions to ask – use the phone call or  in a similar way to a face to face interview. Ask  about THEIR questions also – it is a 2 way business dialogue after all.  Don’t just grill the robotic hell out of people.
  7. Finish off with appreciation and thanks.   Don’t promise what you cannot or will not do/deliver.   Be real and authentic.

Is your company ready to hire sales people smarter & more effectively ?




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