Finding Diamonds: Using Employee Referrals for Sales Recruiting

ITA Group
ITA Group

Finding diamonds for sales recruiting

Note: This series, “Building a Brilliant Sales Team,” looks at how you can purposefully design an incredible sales team to reflect your values and align them with your goals. In this second installment, we’ll look at recruiting strategies and ideas to help you identify those diamonds in the rough with the potential to become your future sales leaders. Read Part 1 in the series here.

Great sales people are like diamonds: they’re hard to find and harder still to ensure they’re the real thing.

There’s plenty of sales people out there who may look like quality candidates. But remember—a piece of quartz looks deceptively like a diamond. And putting a piece of quartz in an engagement ring can get you in lots of trouble.

Filtering out the best sales team applicants is crucial. Otherwise, you end up hiring less valuable talent than you’re hoping. That means less-than-optimal results.

Which Type of Sales Person Do You Need?

The first step to finding the right talent is knowing exactly what you want in a sales person. In essence, there are two types of sales people:

  • Hunters, who drag in brand new opportunities and deals through cold calling, networking and hitting the pavement.
  • Farmers, who nurture and grow warm prospects and current clients into strong customers loyal to your company.

These are two very different types of sales people with very different styles and characteristics. When you know the type of salesperson you need, your HR team can identify the traits and characteristics required to succeed and test your candidates for them.

Finding the Sales Team Candidates You Want

If you know what you want from a candidate and can test them for the right traits and characteristics—great! You’re on the right track.

But where do you go to find those candidates? Throwing a line out through online job boards is a smart idea, but there’s a better resource. And they’re located right in your office.

If you’re not actively recruiting candidates through employee referrals, you’re missing an incredible opportunity.

Your team already knows what kind of person they need to get the job done, and they can be your best evangelists. And don’t just think they have family and few friends to refer—they’re probably connected to hundreds of people through LinkedIn, Facebook and other forms of social media.

When you use an employee referral program that encourages your team to take an active role in recruiting, you’ll see an uptick in great candidates.

To install an employee referral program in your company, follow these six steps:

  • Let your employees know you need their help. There’s nothing wrong with asking for assistance! Communicate how much you could use their support in finding new team members.
  • List the specific roles you need filled. Go into detail about the skills and talents that each person’s role needs, and what sort of experience would be best.
  • Create a sense of urgency with awards. Asking for help only goes so far. When you introduce awards into the mix, you add further incentive to your current employees to make referrals.
  • Encourage employees to use social media. LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter are great places to to broaden your hunt for candidates.
  • Help them post messages with simple tools. Write out a simple job description for each social media platform that your employees can easily cut and paste.
  • Close the loop. When you get a referral applicant, keep the employee who referred them involved with the process at all steps.
  • Offer a Powerful Incentive. Give back to your team for their help. Offer an incentive and track their progress via an online platform.

A simple post on an employee’s LinkedIn page could generate your next star performer.  No one is better at finding the right person for the job than someone who is doing that job.

Employees will only refer people who they feel are a good fit for the organization and your culture. More than that, employees will only refer friends if they like their job—referrals are a great sign you’re building a positive workplace culture!

Recruiting the right sales person for your organization is just the first step. Now you have a diamond in the rough with enormous potential. You still have to shape, mold and polish them to become a brand advocate and brilliant performer.

Read the next post in this series for more about turning raw talent into a brilliant performance.