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Five Lessons from a Sales Recruiting Junkie

Kelly Ford Buckley . October 31, 2017

Felix Knoll is a two-time Edison revenue leader and a self-proclaimed sales recruiting junkie. Having hired more than 100 sales reps, sales managers, SEs and SDRs over the course of his career, he was kind enough to share some of his best practices at last week's Top Dogs at Topgolf event.

1. Hire Sales Engineers First. Doing so is not only a force multiplier for the business, but also makes the company and any open AE positions more attractive to candidates. Experienced sellers appreciate the leverage SEs provide. They want to see marketing support, too. Incorporate both into the job description.

2. Select a Recruiter & Give Him/Her Lots of Business. Good recruiters are those who will spend hours on the phone learning about your vision for the organization and scorecard for each and every open position. Retain one (vs. using multiple on a contingent basis), treat them as a member of your team, and push them hard. 

felix-1.pngFelix Knoll, CRO, GAN Integrity

3. Hire Athletes. Growth-stage companies may not be able to afford a rockstar seller from that larger, more established competitor.  A great alternative profile is the athlete from an adjacent or other market, who has proven that he/she is not afraid to build and sell in an entrepreneurial, high-growth environment. If you can attract top-of-their-game sellers with this profile, they are a great way to build successful sales teams.

4. Run a Selection Process (not an Interview Process). Sellers are obviously competitive; their livelihood depends on driving buyer selection of their company's solution over competing solutions. As such, positioning the candidate evaluation process as a selection process tends to resonate with and compel desirable candidates. 

The first step in Felix's selection process is driving alignment with the leadership team on ideal candidate profile and scorecard. Key participants in the selection process are also identified.

The initial conversation with a candidate is typically 30 minutes by phone and focused on selling the company and getting candidates excited about the opportunity. The next step is onsite meetings with members of the selection committee, who probe for answers to key questions. The final step before selection is an assessment of presentation skills where the candidate presents to the selection committee on a topic of his/her choosing (topic not important; looking for style over substance).

5. ABC -- Always Be Closing. So, your candidate aced the presentation, has been selected and offer is made and accepted. A successful process and job well done, right?  Wrong. The process is not complete until your candidate sets foot in the first day of new-hire training.

ABC.jpg

You need to understand if the candidate has competing offers, how the candidate will resign and how they plan to handle a counter-offer. And until that candidate is officially in the company, every member of the selection committee needs to be nurturing the relationship, too.

For Felix, the sales recruitment process is no different than running an actual sales process. There needs to be a repeatable method for generating, advancing and closing candidates -- and you need to stick to it, just like you would for a must-win deal.

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