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Can’t Find a Good Sales Rep? Time To Get a Bigger Net

big_fishOne of the biggest challenges I hear from staffing company owners and executives is how hard it is to find a good sales rep. Whenever I hear this, I always ask the inevitable question – where are you recruiting? Almost every time I hear the same usual suspects: Careerbuilder, Monster, Craigslist, etc. And my response is always the same – you’re not casting a wide enough net.

Now let’s think about this for a moment. Who is on the national job boards? I think we can all agree that most unemployed people are actively searching and applying for jobs and posting their resumes on job boards. Currently the US has about 4% unemployment among professionals.

I think it’s also safe to say that most active job seekers are on job boards. Most studies show that about 8% of the workforce is actively looking for a new job while employed. So we’re up to a whopping 12% of the workforce so far that you are reaching with a job board recruiting strategy.

There is another category of the workforce that can be known as “semi-active”. These are the window shoppers, the people that aren’t actively looking but are starting to get a little antsy. The ones that are starting to tell their friends and relatives to keep their eyes open. A study by Globoworkforce showed that about 25% of the workforce falls into this category. Now most of this group is not actively searching job boards for jobs, and very few are posting their resumes out there. But for argument’s sake let’s be liberal and say 10% of the workforce that falls into this category can be reached through job boards.

That’s only 22% of the workforce that you are targeting! And that’s assuming that every single person that falls into this group actually sees your job posting. It’s no wonder so many companies struggle to find good sales reps – they are limiting themselves to less than one quarter of the workforce. And the reality is this is the part of the workforce that is most compelled to make a move, which means that their motivation for accepting your position is not always the purest. I’m not saying there aren’t great candidates in this 22%: What I am saying is that you are severely limiting yourself to a small percentage of the workforce, and that group is highly motivated to take a new position that isn’t purely because it's a great fit.

So how do you cast the widest net possible? Here is where I recommend you spend your time and resources to find the best candidates.

  • LinkedIn – More than any other skill set, sales reps are on LinkedIn. Its basically the national sales rep directory. This is where you start, by doing a search of candidates and reaching out to them directly
  • Networking events – Want to find good sales reps that already sell to your prospects? Then go where your prospects go and meet the sales reps at these events
  • Trade Shows – When I was putting together my regional sales team for a national staffing company, I went the SHRM national conference and spent most of my time in the vendor showcase. I met dozens of sales reps working their booths, selling to the same prospects I wanted my sales people to target.

The problem isn’t that there isn’t good sales talent out there. The problem is you are using the wrong net. Cast a wider net and you’ll significantly increase your chances of finding that next rock star sales rep.


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