Hiring is broken – here’s how you can fix it

In today’s world, hiring salespeople and keeping them as never been harder. In this article, I try to lay out some solutions.

I was recently privileged to speak at the Sales Innovation Expo at London’s Excel Centre. If you were there and came to see me, thank you, I hope you enjoyed it. If you couldn’t be there, I’m going to cover a big chunk of what I talked about in this article. Hiring people has never been more difficult than it is today, and solutions can be hard to find. However, hiring the right salespeople and keeping them happy enough to stay is possible, you just have to work at it. I’m going to show you how.

Hiring is broken

Hiring salespeople is considered a chore by the hirer, when it should be looked at as an opportunity to improve your business. Why is this?

Firstly, in today’s connected world, if a jobseeker wants to, they can find out everything about your company that they could ever wish to know. Sure, they might find out how great your company is, but they may find out some bad stuff too, possibly enough to dissuade them from applying.

Next, there are a lot of choices out there for the jobseeker. Demand is high for great salespeople, but supply is quite low. Unemployment is also low. If you’re really good at what you do, you may be able to have your pick of the jobs on offer.

New technology has disrupted the job market, it’s not like it used to be when you could just call a recruiter and they would be able to reach everyone who is looking for a new role. LinkedIn especially has thrown the whole thing up in the air.

Finally, all these factors mean people can move businesses quickly, and often. It’s not seen as a problem anymore for people to jump between roles. If you’re a good salesperson, once you’re in a role, if it’s not to your liking, you don’t have to stay. Something else will be waiting for you.

How to fix your hiring

Here are some ideas you can start on to fix your broken hiring system.

Look at your brand

Jeff Bezos said. ‘Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.’

If you’re an employer, to hire the best people in this difficult environment, you need to make your brand as attractive as it could possibly be. As mentioned before, it’s easy for people to find out about your company. Make sure what they find is good.

There are 3 types of brand that are relevant here:

  • Corporate brand – Is your company successful? Is it growing? Is it doing good work?
  • Employer brand – What do people who work for you say? Do you pay well?
  • Personal brand – What is your workplace culture like? Are your people happy there?

Culture is so important when retaining staff. Some people like the hardcore, boiler room culture of some sales floors. Others are more touchy-feely.Me. I’m between these schools of thought. I can cold call anyone anytime, but I totally appreciate the power of social.


While it’s good to work with a great recruitment partner, unfortunately sales recruitment in this country is generally a pretty poor experience. It pains me to say this, because I spent some great years in sales recruitment, but there you are.

Today, I recommend performing the recruitment process yourself in-house. You have so many options available:

  • Job boards – eg. Indeed
  • Communities
  • Word of mouth
  • LinkedIn – The big one. It’s changed everything
  • In-house recruitment – maybe the best person for the job is right under your nose


Know who you want

Sometimes, companies end up hiring the wrong salespeople because they don’t have a clear enough idea of who the right salespeople are.

Before you start the recruitment process, have a clear picture of the kind of person you want to hire. Make sure whoever is in charge of your recruitment process is totally up to speed with this.

To give you an idea, here are 5 qualities I look for in a salesperson:

  • Ambition
  • Work ethic
  • Curiosity
  • Intelligence
  • Likeability
  • When I’m interviewing, I use roleplay and scorecards to assess these criteria.


Look at the best

Today, it’s quite simple to find out how other companies who are successful at hiring good salespeople do it. Find out how, and model their behaviour.

If you want to hire like Google do, or Facebook, or Deliveroo, it’s possible. The way they do it is well-documented.

Keep them

I hope I’ve shared some useful tips on how to find and hire good people. Of course, it’s only half the task. You have to keep them, stop them jumping ship. This is where you need a strong onboarding and scaling process. You need to ensure your workplace culture keeps them happy, nurtures and nudges them. Keep them engaged with your company while they’re new and as they progress. There’s software like Enboarder and Peakon to help you here. Coach them to be the salespeople you need them to be.

Over to you now, how do you see the state of hiring salespeople in 2018? Is it broken? If so, what are your ideas on how to fix it?

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