A source of frustration to job seekers is the continued prevalence of industry preference when it comes to hiring to a role by a sales leader, or a business’s HR team. In taking briefs, hiring decision makers will describe the motivation of shortlisting industry experience only as minimising risk, bringing a contact book or relevant network, reducing training needs and increasing speed to competency. This is all logical and if a talented sales professional has nowhere to go in their current employer, the natural and most progressive move will of course come from within a given industry …. potentially in that circumstance everyone is happy.
However, it is our experience that this preference can often be limiting. It is evident to us that businesses run the risk of letting standards drop if they are only interested in securing industry experience, as in doing so, they might be choosing an individual who may not have the best achievement record next to an out of industry applicant and they may therefore be foregoing the potential that somebody could be better. Hirers should be careful to probe motivations for moving on or risk hiring poor to medium performers from competitors, sometimes missing more talented, energised and motivated sales professionals who would relish the new challenge that a change of industry brings.
Indeed, there is a tangible difference when we hire to a role for an organisation that truly thinks outside of the box and considers talent and sales process matching when short listing and interviewing.
Average time to hire with this approach over the last 6 months has been 3 weeks (registration to offer) against 11 weeks (registration to offer) in those vacancies that only consider industry experience. If restricted briefs take longer to hire then one could credibly argue that speed to competency becomes irrelevant as the talented out of sector person could be started and well into induction before offers are even made to industry experienced applicants.
Furthermore, there is a noticeable difference in feedback when talented sales professionals have been hired by creative Sales Directors who have brought someone from a new industry into their teams. Engagement and excitement levels from the new hire is noticeably very high when someone has made an outside of sector move. Often, the satisfaction levels of the hiring manager also seem elevated as they are benefiting from new approaches, new ideas and bags of rejuvenated, excited energy. It is our expectation that this could also support more favourable retention figures longer term.
If you are involved in hiring sales professionals into your business, call us to register your interest in our market snap shots or to talk through how we can help you hire talented sales people.
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