Recruiting: A Race without a Finish Line

The following is an article written by Renee Zemanski of on line newsletter published on Wednesday, November 15, 2006

“Companies need to view recruiting as a process, not a one-time event”, says Steve Clark, president of New School Selling, a business development consulting firm that specializes in helping businesses grow sales revenues and profits.

“Recruiting to the sales manager is what prospecting is to a salesperson,” he says. “Just as a salesperson should have a pipeline of qualified prospects so should the manager have a ‘bank of people’ he or she can engage in the recruiting process. It should be ongoing and continuous.”

Clark’s advice is sound. According to a Hay Group survey, the least committed employees to a company are its salespeople.

The Philadelphia-based management consulting company reports that 38 percent of salespeople surveyed planned to leave their respective companies within two years. It’s a race that never ends for recruiters.

“People responsible for the recruiting must realize that recruiting is really their number one job because regardless of what else they do they’ve got to have the right people promoting their product,” says Clark. “Companies need to advertise for salespeople on a consistent, regular basis; they never know when they are going to need someone. And if they find a top performer, they can always replace a poor performer or define a new position.”

“Companies need to be more like football teams – they always need to be looking to replace talent,” Clark continues. “The person who is the weakest performer on the team should always feel that his job is in jeopardy. It sounds ruthless, but it’s the way of life in business – if you’re not performing, then you become replaceable. Salespeople who really are mediocre and shouldn’t be in sales in the first place are usually the only people who will have a problem with this type of culture. Top-performing salespeople, who are rare, will thrive in such a competitive environment.”

Clark says that by establishing this type of environment companies can eliminate complacency and elevate the total effectiveness of the whole organization. He also adds that the companies who make the mistake of waiting until they have an opening to recruit will fall into an impulsive mode. They try to fill a position quickly and end up hiring a mediocre performer because they were under stress to fill that position. It’s these types of hurdles that companies need to be prepared for.

“If you don’t have a contingency plan, you’ll find yourself in a reactive position,” he says. “It takes anywhere from 30 to 90 days to find a good salesperson. That’s why you have to keep your antenna up. For example, if you’re eating dinner in a restaurant, and your server has a magnetic personality, you should be asking yourself, ‘Could this person make a contribution to our company?'”

Clark also recommends staying in the fast lane of the recruiting game by attending job fairs, recruiting fairs, using college placement services continuously, and by developing a sales profile of the positions you have. Determine the psychological, personal, and emotional characteristics that the people filling these positions should have – these aren’t traits you can train, says Clark. Use testing to determine whether candidates fit this template. Once these characteristics are outlined, it is a matter of recruiting someone who matches up to at least 80 percent of the profile.

“The bottom line to sales success is job match,” says Clark. “Sales winners win because they are doing what they are naturally programmed to do. Others fail because they are trying to perform in a role that they are not naturally programmed for, and no amount of coaching, training, or mentoring can change someone’s natural programming. That’s why the hiring decision is the most important decision a sales manager will ever make.”

Sandra Smith

I want to register for the free sales recruiting seminar. Thanks.


The reason it takes a good while to find a decent salesperson is the fact that a lot of companies tell half truths about the commissions! There are many salespeople out here who have lost jobs who cant find jobs that offer a base a lot of them have gone to straight commission and the ones who are doing well have no desire to leave their company (unless their commission plans change) of if the management gets crazy. I have found that a lot of sales managers are people who have never sold anything in their life and are unwilling to train. Companies who expect a learning curve and give their people at least 60-90 days to build are pipeline are the good ones. Its harder now than it ever was and some people or companies dont have the money to spend that they once had. I know of two salespeople who had been with their companies for 20 years and they both left due to the corporate nonsense and I can tell you that these companies are going to miss these guys bigtime! This is an insightful article and companies should always be on the lookout but when you find stars and people who are committed you dont treat them like a herd of cattle and that is one of the reasons companies are having high turnovers in sales even in an economy that is not booming.


Steve, I know you sent out a correction email with the correct link to register for the Hiring New Sales Professionals …. I must have lost it. Can you resend?

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