There’s one silver lining for sales managers during an economic downturn: Many high-quality sales reps find themselves looking for new companies to work for. Additionally, the compensation rates (base and OTE) for these reps may also come down. That essentially means top performers may be available to hire, and you may be able to afford them!
However, it can still be competitive to land top talent; smart companies and savvy sales leaders will all be competing for these candidates. Here are five tips to identify and land top sales talent during an economic downturn:
Topgrading is an evaluative method for identifying the most highly qualified candidate for a particular job position. It can be used in both new hires and in the promotion of current employees. This evidence-based methodology focuses on the evaluation process, interviewing, coaching, and scorecards. Through a series of interviews, hiring managers gain an in-depth perspective on each candidate by looking for patterns in the candidates’ answers. There are many books and articles describing in detail how topgrading can be utilized for forming top sales teams.
Find talent on your candidate bench.
Start your search for top talent with the former candidates you wanted to land but could not. Every sales manager has a short list of candidates who slipped through the cracks, and for one reason or another, they were not available or not hired. This is often called a ‘bench’ – the candidates you want to keep tabs on. Refer to your ATS (applicant tracking system) or your past notes to quickly identify those candidates. Reach out to them; one or two will probably be open to a conversation.
Identify struggling companies.
Unfortunately, some companies simply will not make it through a recession. Use your professional and social networks to identify the companies that may be struggling, and connect with the company leaders. Many will be open helping their current team land new positions. They may even be able to help you identify the best candidates for your team.
There are also publicly available websites that track distressed companies and layoffs, like layoffs.fyi and Crunchbase.
Look to your internal sales team.
Your current sales team is probably far more connected than you may think. Ask your team members to look out for professionals in their network who may be negatively impacted by the down market. If you haven’t already, create referral incentives for your team based on candidates hired. If your team is properly rewarded, you will get great referrals.
Research has shown that for every 100 applicants, referrals generate 70% more “good hires” than non-referrals – and they tend to stay longer. Nearly half of employees sourced through employee referrals stay for longer than four years.
Set your new hires up for success.
Many top performers aren’t always immediately successful when they start a new position. It’s up to you to ensure that you set your new hires up for success. Be sure your ramptime and quotas are fair, and be open to adjusting them. You should also over-invest in training. The investment you make today will be paid many times over. Investing in training will also boost the morale of current and new professionals on your team.
Take advantage of economic downturns to land and invest in top performers for your team. Hiring the best now will not only help you make it through difficult times, but you’ll come out on the other side with a stellar sales team.