Independent sales representatives are a proven pathway to success for manufacturers looking to grow their businesses through indirect sales. However, reaping the benefits of an independent sales team is not always as easy as it seems. Why? Because in order to maximize the benefits of your independent sales team, you must first be able to find, attract, hire, and retain the talent that will best represent and sell your brand.
Here’s a closer look at why finding good sales reps matters, along with five tips for gaining the hiring and retention inside edge.
Why You Need the Best Sales Reps
All employees aren’t created equal. Finding the right ones can ultimately mean the difference between positioning your organization for growth and struggling to survive. In fact, according to Gallup data, companies that pick the top 20% of talented candidates see significant advantages, including a 10% increase in productivity, a 20% increase in sales, a 30% increase in profitability, and a 10% decrease in turnover.
In today’s competitive marketplace, the imperative to hire the best independent sales representatives is especially strong. Empowered buyers aren’t looking for sales pitches, but for knowledgeable partners who can help them reach their goals. Only the best sales professionals will have the ability to drive these conversations toward universally beneficial outcomes.
5 Tips for Landing the Top Sales Talent
We’ve established that finding, attracting, hiring, and retaining the best talent is mission-critical. However, the reality is that you’re not the only business courting these sales superstars, which begs the question: How can you differentiate yourself from the rest? These five tips can help you win the talent race:
1. Leverage your existing talent.
We’ve all heard the expression, “Like attracts like.” Hopefully, you’ve already got independent sales reps who shine at what they do. Asking your best and brightest if they know of anyone who might be a good fit is likely to turn up exactly the kind of talent you’re looking for. Not only are your best salespeople uniquely aware of what it takes to succeed with your products and services in your market, but they’re also invested in the success of your business. They’re unlikely to recommend someone unless they believe they have the potential to more than deliver on your expectations.
This also flows both ways: According to HubSpot, based on data from Glassdoor, 86% of sales professionals are more likely to apply to companies recommended by friends.
2. Attend events, trade shows, and conferences.
Events and meetups are ready-made opportunities for networking and relationship building. They’re also ideal environments for identifying and assessing potential hires who are relevant to your business. While this can be tricky because many of those in attendance will be representing other companies, they may also be looking for new opportunities. In fact, more than 68% of salespeople plan on looking for a new job in the next year, while 45% planned to look in the next three months, according to HubSpot. Just 19%, meanwhile, had no imminent job hunt plans.
The takeaway? Even if they're not available now, they may be in the near future. Passive candidates may also be open to conversations about what your business has to offer.
3. Know what they’re looking for.
Whether you’re working with an active or passive job candidate, knowing what they’re looking for can help you tip the sales recruiting scales in your favor. According to HubSpot, the top five workplace factors influencing whether a sales professional would leave their jobs include:
- Salary and compensation
- Career growth opportunities
- Company culture
- Relationship with a manager
- Senior leadership
Using recruiters with traits valued by sales professionals is also important. Transparency about the pros and cons of different companies tops the list of recruiter attributes sales professionals most value, followed by working as hard for the candidates as they do for employers, knowledge about candidates and their experiences, a strong understanding of the sales profession, and solid communication skills.
4. Don’t underestimate online job sites and social media.
While 51% of sales professionals report that they most often hear about job openings from recruiters, a whopping 75% say they hear about job openings from online job sites. The takeaway? If you’re not using online job sites to pitch your openings, you’re missing out on a major opportunity to see and be seen by candidates.
Social media is also a successful recruitment tactic, with just under half of sales professionals deeming it the best way to reach them compared to hosted meetups (10%) and blog spots from sales professionals employed by the company (7%).
5. Make it about more than money.
There’s no denying that money matters, and that a great compensation plan can go a long way. But it’s not the only thing. In fact, 71% of sales professionals say they’re likely to accept lower pay to work at a company with great culture and/or one that is selling something they’re drawn to, according to HubSpot.
Gallup data also reinforces the mandate to engage employees. Businesses that do so are 21% more productive, 22% more profitable, and have 10% higher customer ratings.
How a PRM Software System Can Help
PRMs can be an especially compelling selling point for independent sales reps looking to hit the ground running with everything they need to succeed in their new roles. In addition to being a sales enablement tool, a PRM -- combined with PRM onboarding for sales team members -- is also a recruitment and retention tactic. According to a study conducted by the Aberdeen Group, 86% of senior and HR executives said that a new hire’s decision to make a long-term commitment to a company is made within the first six months on the job.
More specifically, according to a Wynhurst Group study, newly hired employees are 58% more likely to remain with a company for three or more years if they’ve participated in a structured onboarding process. Employee performance and discretionary effort also rose by 11% and 20%, respectively, with onboarding.
One last thing to keep in mind about hiring independent sales reps? While candidates who check all the boxes will sometimes make their way to your organization, others may fall short with certain skills. When a candidate presents with the right attitude, motivation, and behavior, investing in their training and onboarding can ultimately lead to huge returns.
ManoByte’s PRM software implementation expertise helps organizations attract the best candidates while laying the groundwork for successful and lasting partnerships. Contact one of our Business Growth Consultants today to learn more about how a PRM can help with independent sales rep recruiting, retention, and much more.