What to Do About the Short Supply of Sales Candidates

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Feb 23, 2015 @ 09:02 AM


Image Copyright: 123RF Stock Photo

I don't know if this is an issue where you live but lately, where we live, grocery stores no longer sell yellow bananas!  Their entire stock is green and green ones taste bitter.  Is it the weather?  Supply and demand?  A new strategy?  Do the stores pay less when they're green?

If you've been hiring, you may have noticed the exact same thing happening with salespeople!  There aren't many ripe salespeople but there seem to be plenty of green ones.  When you have assessed, screened and interviewed a salesperson and you say to yourself, "This salesperson is exactly what we are looking for - SWEET!"  That would be yellow.  Green would represent either lack of sales experience or lack of experience in the desired selling environments.

So if green is the new yellow, what can you do?When it comes to my morning protein shake, I can add a couple of dates or some peanut butter to sweeten the shake.    When it comes to sales selection, the options aren't quite so simple.

Are the salespeople you need to hire out there?  Yes.

Are they flocking to you in droves?  No.

Do you know how to find them?  Can you get them to find you?

There are ten steps that we take when we are doing the recruiting on behalf of our clients.  We also teach our clients these steps when we are training and/or consulting with them on how to hire more effectively.  And we spend two days working with them to build this process and master the interviewing skills required to nail sales selection every single time:

  1. You absolutely must specify the requirements for the role.  A job description won't be of much help.  Instead, you must identify what makes the role challenging and the specific sales skills and Sales DNA required for success.
  2. You must write a killer job posting.  Describing the opportunity and the company won't help.  Instead, you must be able to describe your ideal candidate and the specific experiences in which they have experienced success.  You must also get the relationship between compensation and requirements just right.  Ask for too much but pay too little?  You'll see very few quality candidates. 
  3. You must use the best job sites.  Monster and CareerBuilder are so yesterday.  Indeed and Craigslist produce candidates, and if you aren't looking for a candidate in a specific geography, LinkedIn can work great!  If you aren't receiving the desired flow of candidates, you can increase your pay-per-click amount on Indeed or use their database of resumes and find the candidates you want to invite to your process.
  4. You must have candidates complete an online job application.  Ideally, this should be part of an online applicant tracking system.  This legitimizes the job and helps to distinguish it from all of the business opportunities, B2C/retail and multi-level marketing opportunities being posted.  We like New-Hire.
  5. Your candidates must complete a sales-specific candidate assessment.  This should be customized for the role, be predicitive of on-the-job success (predictive validity) and be built specifically for sales - not modified from an existing behavioral styles or personality assessment.  We not only like, but we are Objective Management Group (OMG).  Free Sample. Request a Free Trial.
  6. A quick 3-minute phone interview comes next.  Call only those candidates who, on the OMG assessment, were either recommended or worthy of consideration.  Make sure they sound great and have the required experience you need.
  7. Next you should interview your top scoring candidates.  These should be 30-45 minute interviews and the goals are to:
    • make sure they own what they have claimed on their resume,
    • make sure that their self-presentation is top-notch,
    • observe how the findings on their sales candidate assessment come to life,
    • challenge them and observe how they respond, and
    • audition them for the position.
  8. At this point, and only at this point, can you narrow down the candidates using the criteria of whether or not you like them.
  9. Bring the top candidates back for a final interview and if you want to hire them, now is the time to sell them on your company, the opportunity and their future with you.
  10. All that's left is on-boarding and if you get this wrong, you'll have wasted 9 great sales recruiting steps!  Don't set them up for failure, prepare them for success. Check out this guide to on-boarding salespeople.

There may be a lot of green bananas and sales candidates, but if you know how to shop, you'll get yellow everytime.  If you have followed the steps correctly, you won't need a huge flow of candidates, you'll simply need to get the right candidates into the pool.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales candidates, sales selection, predictive sales assessments, OMG Assessment, finding good salespeople

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Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader,  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog has earned medals for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for nine consecutive years. This article earned a Bronze Medal for Top Sales Blog post in 2016, this one earned a Silver medal for 2017, and this article earned Silver for 2018. Read more about Dave

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