i need more candidates!

You’ve been trying to hire a sales leader for months.

Your HR team has the role posted and spammed across the interwebs. You have 55 agencies working on it. You see high resume flow, but nothing hits the spot. You’re dissatisfied. You pinged your network with little traction in return. You become desperate, pouring hours into phone screens with folks you know don’t hit the mark. These efforts have become a war on your time.

If only you had more candidates!

You’re carrying the territory yourself and travel has doubled until you hire the right leader. You stop reviewing the pile of resumes as profile relevance becomes obsolete. You have lost faith. You stop working out. Attending dance recitals, ballgames, and family dinners feel as rare as Christmas. You have a hairy revenue goal gnawing at your gut and you don’t sleep.

If only you had more candidates!

Wrong. The problem is that you are not meeting the right candidate.

Why? Throwing more fuel on the fire ain’t the solution. Bloated recruiting activity with inaccurate yield waves a screaming red flag that some dark secrets might be manifesting:
A. You’re not sure who or how to hire.
B. You’re not an attractive opportunity.
C. You have no incentive to hire.

How do I hire the right candidate?

Hit the reset button and establish a discerning recruiting practice that will produce candidacy with the right people.


1. Define a Performance Profile. President of The Attorney Search Group and Keynote Speaker Scott Love recommends creating a Performance Profile. What are the reasons you need to make this hire? How will contributions from this role impact the business? Determine the critical experience and accomplishments this candidate must bring to the table. Cut the fluff. What are the must-haves to perform exceptionally well in this role? Require evidence of success with similar goals. This is your beacon. If you veer off course from this profile, you’ll end up at the wrong destination and a significant loss to show for it.

Studies by industry management consultants reveal horrifying data to illustrate the cost of a sales mis-hire. With big-ticket enterprise platforms, a ramp to revenue easily projects twelve months out. As you account for recruiting fees, onboarding, comp (salary, sign-on, draw), and lost customer opportunity, the true cost per hire can hit a whopping 15x the base salary. Topgrading and Sales Benchmark Index both have online tools to calculate the cost of a mis-hire.

2. Set the Interview Strategy. Create a plan for your executive team so they understand their role in selling and evaluating the candidate. Each participant should have a focus area and unique question sets that cover performance ability (skill) and value system (culture). All interviews should follow uniform flow, e.g. Sell, Evaluate, Q&A, Sell.

3. Invest in your recruiter partnership. Develop accountability and set shared expectations. Your recruiter serves as a direct extension of your sales force and should passionately evangelize your leadership style, team, and your company to specific candidate audiences. Do you know how well your recruiter understands and pitches the role? Establish trust and candid communication with this important partner. Encourage dedication to your hiring efforts.

4. Cease the avalanche of recruiting agencies. You may have bet that lackadaisically tossing your job to an ocean of recruiters would generate momentum, free advertising, and a pipeline of golden resumes. Dangerous idea. The mass marketing approach creates a negative ripple effect harming your brand:

“Yeah, I heard about those guys, weren’t they recruiting for that same role last year? I get calls from random recruiters trying to pitch them all the time. I see that posting all over the place. Sounds like a cattle call. Why is it open again? Why can’t they hire? What’s wrong with the Founding Team? What’s wrong with the product? Have they even closed any business? Sounds like a lotta churn. Nah, pass.”

If that sounds like a nightmare scenario, keep in mind – it’s likely happening now. A quick trip to Glassdoor might amplify your worry. In our age of transparency, competitors and customers are also downwind of your recruiting activity. Be discerning with the agencies you use. You have the power to stop and make it right.


1. Be excellent at phone screening. Dedicate space each week to support quality conversations. When you talk with folks, slow down, listen, and engage. Give this individual your attention. Create buffers in your calendar if you have a time management problem. Hold conversations with grace. You should know within 10 minutes on the phone with a sales leader if he has 90% of what it takes to do the job. Provide data upfront they are looking for: level of autonomy and ownership in role, true pipeline value, resources and marketing support, comp and equity, and above all be honest about what gremlins may be hiding in your business. Your line of questioning should align specifically with your Performance Profile and keep your call agenda on track. You should be functioning in sales mode with anticipation to ignite courtship. Candidates will either convert into brand ambassadors or light up the Internet about how much you suck. Choose courtship.

2. Improve the Candidate Experience. Candidates should be met with the same care as customers. Most emphatically at the leadership level. Identify mutual ground. Create excitement. Follow up. Close the loop. Invite them to network. Lead by example and require the same from your team. Your next dynamite hire could very well be a gift from the candidate who did not make the cut but thought highly of you and his interview experience. Your Employer Brand is significantly influenced by word on the street.

3. Take ownership of your hire and stand proud. You are a Leader. So, you’ve had a couple mis-hires or you’re newer to the hiring game. You’re nervous; you don’t want to disappoint the Executive Team or BOD. Maybe your subconscious ego prevents you from hiring better than you. Every leader has experienced some variation of these challenges. Get over it and double-down on your commitment to recruit right. When you base long-term investment decisions on first impressions, big name company starpower, or emotions, you’re playing with fire.

As you hold yourself accountable to a discerning recruiting practice, you establish and track metrics that support your decisions. You are confident in who and how to hire. You become an attractive opportunity. You experience a dramatic decrease in resume volume. You win time back. You see a tighter success ratio from phone screen to final interview. You remove any desire to return to a bloated recruiting practice. You’re now leading great recruiting and building for the long game!

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