Four Steps to a Stronger Sales Force

Business peopleWhy does a company retain one staffing firm over another?  According to CareerBuilder’s and Inavero’s 2012 Opportunities in Hiring research, the number one reason is past experience with the firm.  The second most cited reason is the firm’s billable rate and the third most popular reason  —  given by 35 percent of employers  —  is the relationship they have with the firm’s sales representative.

Given the importance of this relationship, sales development should always be top of mind.  Good sales people are constantly being recruited, so it’s important to keep your sales staff happy.  Nearly one-third of staffing firm clients report that the person with whom they’d worked most closely at the staffing firm had left.  This not only hurts productivity but can leave clients wondering:  If my staffing firm can’t hold on to their people, how will they be able to recruit a long-term hire for my company?

Because the worst time to hire a sales person is when you need one, it’s important to have a sales talent planning process in place.  Here are four ways to ensure your firm has the best sales talent:

  1. Conduct a talent review.  Look at your business needs and determine what knowledge and skills are required to fill them.  Assess your current reps’ potential and whether and how soon they’d be able to expand their role or work at a level significantly above their current position/contribution to meet these needs.
  2. Devise a development plan.  Identify and address gaps between business needs and your existing sales talent base.  Make sure your high-potential reps are getting the appropriate training, experiences and compensation.
  3. Assess the risk of loss.  How likely will your sales reps be to exit and when?  Judge the impact of the loss and how long it would take to replace them at their current contribution level.
  4. Continually interview new talent.  Finally, always be on the lookout for great sales talent.  Some of the common traits of high performers include a drive to excel, an enterprising spirit, a feel for timing, an ability to quickly read situations, a nose for opportunity, the capacity to scan for new ideas and absorb them and the common sense to translate that new learning into productive action for their clients and your firm.

Kyle Braun
Kyle Braun is sales director of CareerBuilder's staffing and recruiting group. He can be reached at kyle.braun (at) careerbuilder (dot) com.

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