Finding and Hiring Sales Professionals – LinkedIn Webinar Recap

When LinkedIn advertised their webinar on “Finding and hiring all-star sales talent” presented by Alyssa Sittig, Content Marketing Manager at LinkedIn and Geoffrey James, columnist at, I jumped at the chance to register.

Overall, this was one of the more useful webinars on sales hiring I’ve listened to (and I’ve listened to a lot of them!). Here are my highlights from the presentation that was held on September 09, 2014.

1. The US sales market

  • Data on B2B and B2C sales reps collected by LinkedIn in August 2014
  • Demand = # of times a salesperson was contacted by a recruiter on LinkedIn
  • Supply = # of sales talent pool members in each region

USsalesmarket According to this graph, Toronto and Los Angeles are considered hidden gems (i.e., higher supply than demand) while San Francisco, Boston, and New York City are considered high demand regions (i.e., higher demand than supply).

Theoretically, it should be easier to hire salespeople in hidden gem cities vs. high demand cities due to higher competition for sales talent in the latter. Note: Let me know if you’ve found this to be true in your personal experience.

Takeaways: LinkedIn’s advice on hiring in competitive markets includes

  1. Re-locating salespeople from hidden gem to high demand cities
  2. Developing your talent brand (e.g., create videos on why it’s great to work at your company, keep active on your company’s social media profiles)
  3. Investing in your employee referral program (see my post on hiring for referrals to judge whether it’s worth it for you)
  4. Hiring for adaptability (i.e., job candidates lacking “hard skills” but are trainable)

2. The hiring process


  1. Research the position: Identify the skills and traits that determine sales success by asking former and current customers how they like to be sold to and assessing your above-average and top sales performers.
  2. Describe the position: Concentrate on specific skills required for the job duties.
  3. Creative recruiting: Geoffrey James takes a pretty harsh stance against hiring salespeople from direct competitors. He states they’re likely to have badmouthed you to their customers in the past and if they’re willing to “steal” customers from their current employer, they’ll do it to you too (read our CEO’s thoughts on whether you should hire from competitors). Instead, LinkedIn claims the best sources of hires are non-salespeople from your industry, salespeople from similar companies in different industries, and university and college grads. They introduced LinkedIn’s free alumni finding tool. Seems handy!
  4. Interviewing: The webinar skimps on this section and basically advises you to ask more detailed questions to assess character traits.

Takeaways: A decent overview of the sales hiring process but I was disappointed the advice wasn’t more research- and data-based. Show me the data!

3. What matters to salespeople

whatsalespeoplewant According to LinkedIn’s survey of 7,155 sales professionals, the top 3 things salespeople care about when considering a job offer are:

  1. Excellent compensation & benefits
  2. Good work/life balance
  3. Culture that fits my personality (see my post on hiring for culture fit)

The bottom 3 considerations are:

  1. Strong employee development
  2. Having a good relationship with your colleagues
  3. Internal transfer opportunities

TakeawaysKnowing what salespeople look for in a job can help tailor your messaging during the sales hiring process including recruiting and networking events, writing job descriptions, and conducting interviews.

Bonus: Q & A

Q: Tips on how to recruit college grads?

A: Attend job fairs, and give a talk during a class.

Q: How do you recruit sales engineers?

A: Re-program the way they think about selling: emphasize how sales and working with customers helps the customer achieve their technical goals.

Q: What are some effective assessment/selection tools?

A: Having some sort of personality assessment is a good thing, but the interview process is key to getting to know someone (see my post on why most interviews are useless).

See the full Slideshare presentation here.

Thoughts? Questions? Ask me in the comments or tweet @ideal.

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Ji-A Min

Ji-A Min

Head Data Scientist at Ideal
Ji-A Min is the Head Data Scientist at Ideal. With a Master’s in Industrial-Organizational Psychology, Ji-A promotes best practices in data-based recruitment. She writes about research and trends in talent acquisition, recruitment tech, and people analytics.
Ji-A Min