Attracting Sales Talent in a Down Economy

Today's blog is is authored by Jeff Beutel, founder of executive search firm The Alan Group. Jeff is a nationally recognized expert in sales recruiting. He can reached at 608.826.0918 or On of the questions I'm frequently asked is "Given the amount of people in the job market, including some very good ones, why is it so hard to attract that talent I need to win."

There are two things to consider.

1. The top performers in any market are typically employed and busy doing great work for their companies. 2. They need to be convinced that making a career move will pay of for them (risk/reward).

Our clients are looking to do more with less resources and want to find people who can step in an significantly improve the production over an existing employee..

When trying to recruit these individuals their focus needs to be.

First - Demonstrate that they can realistically achieve their career goals by making the move. Not just achieve, but be convinced that leaving an existing company where they know how to get things done politically and have outstanding bonus/commissions actually makes sense.

Don't underestimate the importance of them being able to sell this to their family as well. For anyone who's ever deferred a conversation about whether or not to make a major (or not so major) purchase because of not wanting to have to justify it to a family member, think of the impact of changing careers.

Secondly - be prepared to show the details of how this will be accomplished. In the eyes of the A-player these are some key issues, starting with more corporate issues and working down to more role-based concerns:

What are you trying to accomplish? Why? What are the key dates / deadlines? How were they established? How long has this strategy been in place? What have you done to get there? What are the challenges accomplishing these goals? What do you expect from this person? Who / how many people are in similar roles? For how long? Have they been successful? What is in place to make them successful?

* From a Sales perspective, this should include: Sales Support, Marketing, Lead Nurturing / Lead Generation and a sales-driven culture?

It's easy to fall into the trap of "The economy is bad so people should be happy to have a job." Always remember that this does not apply to top performers. Now, more than ever they need to be convinced and sold on an opportunity - the downside for not taking it is they stay in a job they're doing very well in, continue to outperform their peers and make a good living.

Preparing to address these will drastically improve your ability to on-board the people you want to hire.