I’m a sales executive at a major manufacturer and having difficulty recruiting strong salespeople. The profile I’m looking to fill is five to seven years of outside sales experience with a manufacturer or a dealer… but not one of our dealers! In other words, someone from within the industry. It’s almost impossible to find these candidates, let alone get them to accept an offer when we find them. And yes! – I have used recruiters like you and others, all around the country.
Even though we’re one of those manufacturers consistently ranked in #Fortune as one of the “best furniture companies to work for,” you’ll still see our posts all over LinkedIn for our current job openings. Fortune Mag knows we’re a good place to work, but the word has not gotten out to the candidates yet…
Seriously, Stephen: I’m not asking you to tell us all of your secrets, but I just want to know, where do I begin? I hear from my friends at dealers, independent rep groups, and manufacturers alike that they’re all having the same issue… all I can say is, help! Throw me a bone. Give me a tip on where to start finding the best candidates.
Desperate for Experienced Talent
This is the information I am happy to share: you start with your competitors!
They can be employed or unemployed, but if you want experienced salespeople who understand your customers, look no further than your competition. By the way – when I say competitors I mean companies in the same industry that you may not even consider your competition. In other words, they don’t have to necessarily be at the same “level” as you, just in the same market. Be sure to look up and down – not just left and right! Get the names of the best prospects from your dealers and from your designer friends.
It’s okay to want to hire a “rockstar,” but everyone starts off somewhere. And, if you’re having trouble hiring, I recommend everyone involved remove terms like “rockstar” and “hunter” from the vocabulary. It’s just too self-defeating, hard to live up to, and based in an idea that is not the reality of hiring in 2023.
The secret is not to be biased toward the more prestigious companies like #Steelcase, #MillerKnoll, and #Haworth. Consider going for the meat-and-potato brands’ salespeople. Some of the best people I’ve seen being poached lately are coming from #Allsteel, #HON, #OFS, #Humanscale, #Mohawk, #Interface, #SitOnIt (#Exemplis), and #Kimball. These brands have very high-quality salespeople because, let’s face it, these brands don’t necessarily sell themselves. Therefore, the salespeople’s reputations may be more elite than the brand they are selling. Sometimes, I find the problem with sales executives like yourself is that you’re biased towards the prestige of a brand when you should be focusing on the individual! Recruiting is a painstaking, time-consuming process.
Once you identify the candidate, to get them to say “yes,” you need to have multiple face-to-face interactions, meetings, lunches, and so on with them to win them over. And remember candidates are looking to go to work for the right boss, as much as the company. So, your role is important.
Regarding posting help-wanted ads on LinkedIn, my friends at #BridgerGroup in #GrandRapids put it best in a recent mailing when they said, “Posting and Praying Is Not a Strategy!” That about says it all.