Hiring a Salesperson? Consider Recruiting Outside Your Industry

Hiring a salesperson with experience is important, but hiring a salesperson with experience inside your industry is even better, right? Wrong! In fact, confining your sales talent search to candidates inside your industry may short-circuit your sales recruiting success. Skeptical? Here’s why recruiting and hiring a salesperson based solely on experience inside your industry is a bad idea:

The Right Kind of Sales Experience Is What Matters Most

If it seems surprising that industry experience is not that valuable to sales success, ask yourself these questions:

  • Is your sales process truly different based on your industry’s products and services? 
  • Are your industry’s buyers wired so differently they respond only to highly specialized industry-specific sales strategies and methods?
  • Does your business really need another in-house expert regarding your products, services, or industry?

If you answered “no” to these questions, ask yourself one more:

  • Does your company truly need a salesperson accomplished and experienced in driving new business – regardless of their industry background? 

If you answered “yes” to this one, you’ve uncovered a competitive advantage when it comes to effective sales hiring.

Surprisingly, industry knowledge is seldom the most important criteria in sales success. In fact, other factors rank higher:

  1. Bottom-line sales competency and a proven track record in achieving strategic sales goals. 
  2. How the new salesperson will fit in with your organization’s culture. 

If you undervalue the first two critical sales recruiting factors, your sales success will suffer regardless of your new salesperson’s industry experience.

Why Industry Experience Can Actually Damage Sales Recruiting and Hiring

The Revolving Door Effect

Salespeople who move from company to company within an industry might be knowledgeable about the industry itself, but unskilled at sales. After all, why move around so much if they are that valuable and adept at selling? Why are they so often available? Why the revolving door?

Change is Hard

Business owners often believe hiring a salesperson away from a competitor will lure their former customers, too. This seldom happens. Why? Because customers don’t like extra upheaval. Changing their sales rep is one thing; changing the products and services they use is more difficult. 

Bad Sales Habits Repeat Themselves 

Salespeople with direct industry experience are expected to hit the ground running, providing speed-to-revenue while reducing training cost. But an over-reliance on an industry-experienced sales background might also result in recycled bad habits and the rejection of new sales processes.

Sales Proficiency Takes Years to Develop

It’s surprising but true: Most qualified salespeople can learn the required industry, market and product knowledge in three to four months – time that should correlate with your normal onboarding and orientation process. Sales proficiency, on the other hand, can take many years to develop – as many as 10 to 20 years. 

A Better Way to Recruit and Hire Sales Talent

Recruiting only inside your industry can undermine sales, upset your company culture, and reduce chances for overall success. On the other hand, expanding your search beyond your industry can land you a superior sales professional with years of success honing their craft. Indeed, a top salesperson who consistently achieves or exceeds quotas has the skill set and discipline to attain similar results anywhere. What’s more, top salespeople capable of switching industry focus may bring fresh perspectives and creative approaches to your sales operations.

So, the bottom line is this: Hire the best sales talent available, regardless of industry. Period. 

Another way to improve your sales recruiting and discover more high-quality sales candidates is by outsourcing your sales recruiting. Dedicated sales recruiters can simplify and streamline the process. They can also make it easier to expand your search to sales candidates outside your industry AND even to include top sales candidates not actively seeking new employment.

Breakaway Sales Recruiting specializes in placing sales candidates that deliver revenue results. Guaranteed. Our dedicated talent managers go deeper than standard sales recruiting. They factor in sales experience (inside and outside your industry) and many other critical factors while taking the burden of recruiting off you and your team. 

To learn more about Breakaway Sales Recruiting, contact us today at 844.874.7253.  

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