Opportunity Over Income: Attracting Top Performers

Oct 29, 2018

Often times hiring managers and recruiters are focused on the wrong things when it comes to their recruiting strategy. As a result they end up losing great candidates who could have made a significant impact to the organization, had they known better. Let’s talk about what things really attracts a top performer to a company so you can start having them join your team today.

First of all, we need to define what a top performer is. My definition of a top performer is as follows: “A member of a sales team or organization who consistently achieves or over-achieves sales targets, quotas, metrics, and who requires little to no coaching or external motivation from the top down.” Sounds like someone I’d want on my team! How about you? Well, how do you land this unicorn? Simple, understand their internal drivers/motivations.

Companies and recruiters make the same mistake over and over again and wonder why these strong candidates turn down interviews or job offers…My first piece of advice would be to stop talking at them and start listening to them. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen job boards or job descriptions that literally read like a grocery-shopping list. Boring!!! With a heavy focus on the base salary and commission earnings. Great, so you have benefits, car packages, complimentary cellphone and tablets…so does everybody else.

If you focus on how much a person can make by joining your company you may attract some top performers, but, you will definitely attract the worst of the worst candidates as well. I’m sure as you’re reading this you are already nodding in agreement that 99.9% of your Indeed applicants’ resumes need to go straight into the shredder. Don’t get me wrong, money is important to a sales person…but that’s just it…money matters to all sales people. It is a little redundant to lead with the earning potential or put so much weight into it. Often times you will steer great candidates away if the base is too low and attract the desperate if the earning potential is four times higher than what they earn in their current role. Think about it like this, do you lead with price when you or your sales team are selling your products or services to a prospective customer? Or do you focus on the prospect’s wants and needs? Or how about the features, benefits, and uniqueness you can offer them? Or the golden rule of building rapport before getting into the financials?

Well, the same needs to happen when it comes to attracting top talent to your team. This is the time to put your company in the spotlight! What makes you so attractive to a top sales person? Perhaps your culture is vibrating with awesome enthusiasm and a friendly-competitive edge that is rare to find in an company. Maybe you’re growing exponentially and opening new markets every six months and in turn are promoting talented sales people into leadership roles in a relatively short period of time. Maybe your product or service is just exciting, new or innovative! You see speaking to the qualitative aspects of what your company has to offer outside of the quantitative will hep you uncover this top performer’s motivations.

A great sales person already knows, if they decide to, that they will make the money they need to make by joining your team. What they may want to know is, is this a place I can see myself for the long term? Is the culture a fit for my belief systems and attitude about work? What kind of character does my leadership team posses? Is there a ceiling or a progressive career ladder if I make the move to this company? Is there an opportunity here?

So be sure not to only write job descriptions or conduct interviews by running over a check list of what you can offer a candidate, because I guarantee you, you will look just like everyone else. Instead, speak to who their direct reports will be and who they are as people, speak to the fun and unique atmosphere of your company or team specifically. Speak to real life stories of how many people were promoted and what they had to do to achieve it. I guess what I am trying to say is don’t be afraid to humanize the process a little bit. Think of it as more of a dating app more than a job description and a first date more than a robotic interview.

In terms of the actual “responsibilities,” as they are so often referred to when it comes to describing the actual day to day duties in the role, yes, it is important, but man oh man…these descriptions of the day to day expectations read like an instruction manual when they should read more like and action & adventure novel! Seriously, you need to be writing these with the idea of exciting and individual to click the “submit resume” button. Speak to the challenges and goals that they can expect to face in their new role. Don’t be afraid to include the fact that it will be difficult, challenging but at the end of the day rewarding as hell. A top performer will not be scared off from the cold hard truth and you will deter the weaker candidates from even trying. Saving you and them much needed time to be looking somewhere else.

This was just a quick piece on how to write better job descriptions and approach top performers in the interview. I hope you found some of this advice helpful and I would challenge you to get creative in your job description writing and try to stand out from the crowd. Stay away from leaning on strong compensation and benefit offerings, yes they are important but do not rely on them. Focus on what makes you unique by having a unique description and outline of the responsibilities of the day to day role. Just as difficult as it is to find the perfect hire, it is equally challenging for them to find a new company and role they are willing to leave their current situation for. So STAND OUT!