8 years ago
April 13, 2016

How to Find Sales People with Industry Experience

As industries across all sectors become more specialized so too do hiring needs. Here’s how to find sales people with experience in your business.

Rhys Metler

sales people with industry experienceAs industries across all sectors of the economy become more specialized so too do hiring needs, disproving the old adage that a strong sales person can sell anything. There are many reasons you might need sales people with specific industry experience, but they all boil down to one thing: You need what’s right for your organization, right now. Here’s how to find the sales people you want with experience in your business.                              

Recruit Through the Right Channels

Even if your job description makes your need for industry experience clear, there will be eager sales people who do not read or do not take seriously your requirements. To reduce the number of applicants who do not meet your criteria, using the right recruiting channels is a must. 

  • Publish your opening on industry-specific websites, including your own
  • Focus on job fairs in your industry or those that are closely related, rather than more general opportunities
  • Network to find sales people who are currently employed but passively seeking new opportunities

Approach qualifying channels for recruiting like you qualify applicants. Can the channel deliver what is promised, and does it have references proving its claims? Is it able to reach the contacts (qualified applicants) that it says it can? And most importantly, can it do so cost effectively for your organization?

Ask the Right Questions

With your hiring experience, you know the virtues of asking probing, open ended questions during the interview process. When industry experience is a prerequisite to hiring, you should also be asking questions that probe the depth of candidate’s experiences and knowledge in your line of business. You should also take care to ensure:

  • The sales person doesn’t just make his or her numbers in general, but does so reliably in your industry
  • The sales person understands, based on his or her industry experience, what drives sales in your industry
  • The sales person recognizes the overall direction of your industry, and is prepared to grow and change with it

Check References to Verify Industry Experience

As a further check on potential sales hires’ industry experience, specifically request that candidates provide at least three references in your industry. While references outside of your industry may be able to provide an outstanding recommendation for a candidate, the sales people you want to hire should have contacts within your industry who are willing to provide an exceptional reference as well. Base the strength of recommendations on:

  • References who are willing to provide more information than compensation and dates of employment
  • References who take or return your contact within a reasonable timeframe
  • References who have industry experience as sales people themselves 

If a candidate cannot provide at least one or two references indicating his or her industry experience, there is probably a stronger candidate waiting to hear back from you. 

Make It Easier with a Sales Recruiting Firm

Especially if your organization does not regularly recruit sales people, it can be difficult to activate the networks you need to find sales people with industry experience cost effectively. A sales recruiting firm with experience in your industry can help your organization overcome this potential hurdle by drawing on its contacts with experienced sales people who know your industry top to bottom. Sales recruiting firms have already done much of the work for you, verifying experience, checking references, and administering skills testing to ensure a qualified match for the time when an organization like yours is hiring. When industry experience is a must for your open position, don’t let this valuable resource pass you by.

Rhys Metler

Rhys is a tenacious, top performing Senior Sales Recruiter with 15+ years of focused experience in the Digital Media, Mobile, Software, Technology and B2B verticals. He has a successful track record of headhunting top performing sales candidates for some of the most exciting brands in North America. He is a Certified Recruitment Specialist (CRS) and has expert experience in prospecting new business, client retention/renewals and managing top performing sales and recruitment teams. Rhys enjoys spending quality time with his wife, son, and daughters, BBQing on a hot summer day and tropical vacations.