Are Your Sales Positions Staying Open too Long?

by Mitchell Hobbs

Do sales positions on your team stay vacant longer than you would like? Are they, on average, open longer than non-sales related positions in your company? Do you have your current talent acquisition (TA) team working across multiple skill sets?

Knowing that every week, month, and quarter that passes with an unfilled sales opening on your team is costing you significant lost revenue, damaging your customer experience, and hurting your brand in the marketplace, why do so many companies allow such a state of affairs to exist?

Considering that the Bureau of Labor Statistics says 2.7 million people are classified as B2B salespeople in our country, why does it take you so long to fill your open positions? Just as important, why do you often find yourself merely settling on a hire after waiting for months and reviewing countless mediocre performers?

The answer may be in your approach. Most organizations try to hire salespeople following the same methodologies they follow when hiring non-sales related roles. You can’t effectively fill open sales roles using these traditional routes. Consider the following major challenges companies face when attempting to woo top sales talent.

Job Postings

Quota crushers don’t apply for jobs. They are busy crushing their quotas, calculating their commissions, and going on their current company’s incentive trips. They are prospecting, pitching, and closing.

CareerBuilder, one of the nation’s leading job boards, reported that only 132,000 candidates viewed or applied to their more than 650,000 B2B sales postings. Remember the stat from the Bureau of Labor Statistics of 2.7 million B2B sellers in the U.S.? This means that only 5% of those sellers are looking at job postings.

While there may be a superstar in that sample, the most likely case is that these are the underperformers in their current roles. Candidates looking to make a move because they see the writing on the wall, as they struggle through yet another quarter of missing their number with their current company. Not exactly the type of people I suspect you want on your sales team.

Internal Talent Acquisition

For most organizations, their internal TA teams just aren’t equipped to effectively fill sales-related openings. Again, the challenge being that the more traditional methodologies just don’t work in attracting top sales talent. It’s likely that a big component of internal TA staff strategies include posting on job boards, and I’ve already noted the futility of that approach.

Most internal TA teams are also tasked with filling all other roles within the organization—often with those openings numbering in the hundreds. Those internal resources will typically spend more time on roles they better understand and perceive to be easier to fill. For example, roles that a job description can fully describe and a keyword match can successfully differentiate and roles that have a high hit rate of applicants per posting (which are not sales-related roles).

Great sales talent will have many questions about your sales strategy, territory alignment, and earning opportunity, including detailed commission structure, average sales cycle, quotas, and percentage of current team at plan. They will also want to be “sold” on your opportunity, seeking a better understanding of your employee value proposition, your leadership style, and your organization’s culture. Do you have confidence that your current internal TA team can effectively hit the mark in these areas?

Sales Leaders Doing It Themselves

Often, great sales leaders become so disheartened by their lack of a robust pipeline of sales talent, they resort to just trying to do it themselves. While this approach works better than the other two mentioned, it also has significant challenges. Most notably, the more time you as a sales leader spend on sourcing, recruiting, and candidate pipeline management, the less you have available to do the things you are best at—leading, coaching, and developing your current sales staff.

The candidates you want are the top performers out there, and they are, at best, passive in their search. They require an investment in time to find; build and nurture a relationship; screen for a match of skills, experience, and cultural fit; and align to your organization’s strategy and employee value proposition. Done correctly, it’s exhaustive work that requires a huge amount of time, which would be better served working on core sales leadership responsibilities.

Time to Re-Think Your Strategy?

As experts who focus exclusively on placing salespeople and sales leaders, our sales talent sourcing division can help address all of these challenges. Our team is comprised of experienced salespeople and sales leaders, thus we understand our clients’ unique challenges, as well as our candidates’ needs. Find out how we helped an IT firm quickly decrease its time-to-fill for strategic sales roles in this case study.

Using our proprietary engagement process, we take a much more in-depth approach than traditional hiring models. We begin by developing the appropriate strategy for your company through a MarketSource assessment. Find out more by contacting us today.

Topic: B2B


An experienced and top performing leader of sales, recruiting, and operations, Mitchell Hobbs leads a team of highly accomplished salespeople and recruiters within MarketSource. He truly understands the art and science of matching high-performing salespeople with the best opportunities.

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