As a sales leader, you’re tasked with a critical mission: creating an exceptional sales team. At the heart of this mission is a large, diverse candidate pipeline. A strong candidate pipeline is the very foundation of a high-performing sales team. Yet cultivating this pipeline is anything but simple, especially in today’s ever-evolving business landscape. In today’s article, we cut through the noise and share five key tactics for building an exceptional pipeline of sales candidates.
Be Prepared with Effective Job Descriptions
First things first— make sure you have job descriptions. These job descriptions shouldn’t just live in your head or include a few notes on a piece of paper. Sure, it’s a bit tedious to create them, but it pays off in the long run to have effective job descriptions. By that we mean specifics about what you want out of the job and competencies the candidate must possess to succeed.
Be sure to include what the candidate will be doing on a daily basis and what a candidate will accomplish in the first three, six, and twelve months. It’s also worthwhile to align the job descriptions with your company’s mission, vision, and values. This will serve as a snapshot of what your company does and why it matters, as well as what your organization has to offer candidates.
Build Trust Through Transparency
Transparency is essential yet undervalued during the recruitment process. It’s easy to get into the hustle and bustle of recruiting and forget that candidates are coming into the process without any knowledge of what’s to come. To establish a foundation of trust, share an outline of the interview and evaluation process with potential candidates. Doing so offers a clear roadmap of the journey ahead, helping to reduce anxiety and demonstrate a commitment to a well-organized, candidate-friendly recruitment experience.
Recruit Both Active and Passive Candidates
During the recruitment process, you’ll meet both active and passive candidates. Active candidates are just that: actively in pursuit of a new role. This does not necessarily mean they are currently unemployed, but they may be. Active candidates are browsing job boards, LinkedIn, and contacting recruiters to find a new job. Passive candidates, on the other hand, are tiptoeing around considering a job switch. They’re potentially open to new opportunities but not actively searching.
There’s a common myth that good candidates are always passive and active candidates aren’t worth your time. The problem with believing this myth? You risk missing out on a large pool of active, potentially high-performing candidates. The strength of your future sales team relies on having a diverse, strong pipeline, so be sure to avoid limiting your options based on misconceptions that aren’t rooted in any fact. On that same note, stay open to candidates who have braved layoffs during the recession; their resilience could be a valuable asset when combined with the necessary skill set, competencies, and experience.
Go Where Your Candidates Are
To build a robust candidate pipeline, you need to use multiple channels to drive awareness. Traditional job boards, both general and niche, are a good starting point. Career fairs also provide the opportunity to connect with fresh talent eager for entry-level roles.
Don’t forget about employee referrals. A referral bonus can help incentivize current employees to recommend top-quality candidates from their networks. Social media and professional networks are other useful avenues for expanding your reach.
Recruiting channels such as LinkedIn Recruiter, Fetcher, and Seekout can help you connect with passive candidates who might not be actively exploring new opportunities. You may also consider partnering with recruiting agencies specializing in sales roles and/or geographic areas. Hosting events for job seekers, such as webinars, gives you the chance to engage with potential applicants while spreading awareness about your company in the process. The key here is to use multiple channels rather than only following one path to building a pipeline.
Avoid the Temptation to Skip Steps
It’s not uncommon to want to pass over steps of the hiring process when faced with urgent hiring needs or coming across a highly desirable candidate. It makes sense; you want to get to the “hired” part of the process as soon as possible. So, a shortcut can be really tempting. The problem? They undermine the integrity of the hiring process and can lead to overlooking skill sets, facing mismatching expectations, and, ultimately, hiring mistakes.
There are countless stories about rushing candidates through the hiring process because they seemed too perfect to pass up, only to have them falter in the job due to overlooked lacking competencies, personality traits, or undisclosed expectations. Remember: a high-quality candidate will value a high-quality process. So, a comprehensive, rigorous hiring process isn’t just a procedure or set of boxes to check. It’s a means of defining expectations for the role, communicating them to candidates, and presenting the best possible impression of the position, your department, and company as a whole.
The temptation to speed up the hiring process has long-term implications for your team and company. The decisions of hiring managers significantly influence the overall productivity and success of your sales team, so stick to your structured recruitment and hiring approaches. Over time, the quality of the hiring decisions you make can lead to the difference between a sales team that performs and one that struggles to meet expectations. After all, deciding who to bring on board is one of the most important decisions you can make as a hiring manager. And for many hiring managers, the quality of these hires can mean the difference between being promoted and getting fired.
So, it’s essential to establish and scale your hiring process, learn to hire well, and stick to the operations that are in place. Relying solely on luck or gut instinct is far too risky—the success of your team matters too much to leave up to chance.