Sales Force Recruitment Process

The sales personnel recruiting effort differs from one company to another, mainly as to the sources of recruits and recruiting methods, and stem from management’s sizeup of the appropriate combination of selling styles. Different selling styles call for individuals with varying qualifications as to type and amount of education, other training, and experience. If trade selling is the basic style, the management seeks individuals with minimal or general education and little or no experience. If missionary selling is the basic style, management looks for higher-caliber individuals with spe­cialized educations (as in science or pharmacy, if the job involves calling on physicians or hospitals) or equivalent qualifications, perhaps gained through experience in a similar job with another company. If technical selling is the basic style, management looks for even higher-caliber indi­viduals with scientific or engineering educations and/or backgrounds. If the selling job also involves new-business selling, management looks for individuals with the required abilities to apply this selling style. Therefore, if the job specifications call for special talents, such as a knowledge of engineering or pharmacy, then management tends to emphasize educa­tional institutions as sources of recruits and solicits applicants through personal contacts. Conversely, if trade-selling ability is the main job qualifi­cation needed, management taps diverse sources and emphasizes indirect recruiting methods (for example, advertising in help wanted columns and responding to “situations wanted” advertisements in newspapers and trade publications).

The scope of the recruiting effort is influenced by the number of recruits desired, which, in turn, is influenced by the size and maturity of the sales organization itself, the sales personnel turnover rate, the fore­casted sales volume, distribution channels, and promotional strategy. A large sales organization must recruit more new people just to maintain its average strength than is true of a smaller organization. Two firms of com­parable size (as to sales volume) may have different-sized sales forces, often because one uses a different distribution channel or stresses adver­tising more in its promotional strategy. As might be expected, companies

Personal Recruiting

Company’s website. Most of the companies maintain ‘‘Career’’ link on their websites along with the possible vacant positions. The prospective can­didates are encouraged to apply online. This is the most economical tool to have a data of large pool of applicants for different job positions. Company’s website provide information about the company, its products, and human resource practices. The vacancy page details the qualifications required for sales jobs, and the salesperson’s duties, responsibilities, and advancement opportunities. Short write-ups on those who are and have been successful company salespeople are included. Effective websites make liberal use of pictures, charts, diagrams, and other presentations—a few even give the tele­phone number of a ‘‘hot line’’ where the prospect can get more information.

Campus placements. Campus placement is used for recruiting gradu­ates of educational institutions. Campus placement is often planned as a companywide affair, because this avoids much duplication of effort. Representatives of different departments do the interviewing, and the per­sonnel department plans and coordinates the drive. Campus placements require thorough planning. Statements of trainee requirements should be mailed to college placement officers before their placement season. The list of colleges, based primarily upon past interviewing experience, is updated, and interview dates are requested. After visiting dates have been confirmed, colleges are sent letters specifying such details as job profile, salary, the training program, and starting date of employment. College placement offi­cers schedule the interview process. Interviews are usually conducted in the colleges and the jobs are offered to the most promising candidates.

Recruiting direct-to-consumer sales personnel. One situation where personal recruiting sees widespread use is in the direct-to-consumer selling industry, crowded with companies that have a difficult time recruiting sales personnel. The type of selling, unattractive to many people, and the uncer­tainty of earning result in high sales force turnover rates. Experience has taught many of these companies that their best source of new salespeople is their own salespeople, so many (if not most) direct-selling companies offer good bonuses for each new salesperson recruited.

Recruiting consultants. In many cities, independent firms operate as spe­cialists in recruiting sales personnel for client firms. These consultants main­tain contacts with diverse organizations and candidates for sales jobs. Some pre-screen applicants through collecting personal histories, administering aptitude tests, and so on. Companies using recruiting consultants generally provide the appropriate job descriptions and job specifications.

Advertisements. City newspapers carry numerous advertisements pub­licizing openings for sales personnel. Such advertisements appear both in classified (wanted) sections and as display advertising. Most sales manag­ers favor open over blind advertisements, although mixed practice exists. An open advertisement reveals the company identity; a blind advertise­ment hides company identity behind a “box number, c/o this publication.” The company name, if well-known and respected, should be prominently featured to attract the best applicants.

Location of the advertisement in the publication is important. News­paper advertisements on sports or financial pages are usually more produc­tive but cost more per insertion than those in classified sections. Display ads on a sports page, for example, not only attract unemployed persons looking for work but employed ones who are not in the job market but who can be attracted by better jobs. Many companies also use different job portal websites like naukri.com, monster.com, timesjobs.com, etc., to reach a wider applicant pool for their job requirements. The advertisements and job listings on these portals are usually more economical than the news­paper advertisements.

Source: Richard R. Still, Edward W. Cundliff, Normal A. P Govoni, Sandeep Puri (2017), Sales and Distribution Management: Decisions, Strategies, and Cases, Pearson; Sixth edition.

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