The No BS Guide to Recruiting Salespeople

Recruiting Salespeople takes a specific kind of strategy in comparison to other key roles. Salespeople, what do we know about them? They’re numbers driven, money hungry and at times cutthroat. And they want the straight up, no BS answer.

While I’m relatively new to the game, I’ve found a few effective ways to cut through the BS and get great engagement with my outreach.

Invest in the Extra Two

Take the extra two minutes to research the candidate that you’re hunting as this early investment will pay off down the line. Start with your basic scroll through their LinkedIn profile to get an overall assessment of their background. Pay close attention their education:

  • What school did they go to?
  • What did they study?
  • What groups were they involved in?
  • Did they transfer?
  • Did they go for their MBA?

Keeping this running list of questions in my head helps me start to chisel away at the candidate’s story — all before reviewing their work experience.

Second, I look at their internship experience, it’s appreciated but not a requirement. In other words, you don’t need to have had an internship every year of college to be considered. However, I do want to understand where candidates decided to get their start.

Third, I look at their experience. The first thing I look for is work longevity: How long have they been at each company listed in their profile? An immediate red flag is seeing short stints where they have only spent under a year at a few companies. An even bigger red flag is not seeing any dates listed on their profile.

Then I look at their numbers. I am drawn to prospects who list their quota attainment numbers right on their profile. What that says to me is two things: it says to me that they worked hard to meet their numbers and it says that they understand the art of sales.

With a holistic picture in place, this is where the “extra two” comes into play. I take an extra two minutes to solicit any piece of personalized information that helps complete their story:

  • What companies/organizations do they follow?
  • What influencers do they follow?
  • Do they have any recommendations and if so what do these recommendations say?
  • Are they a social seller? (Take a look at their Twitter account and recent activity on LinkedIn to see if they share content)
  • Were they recognized for specific awards? (President’s club, AE of the quarter, etc.)

The Power of Personalization

Just like in Sales, when it comes to recruiting, personalization is always king. There’s nothing worse than getting a standard recruiting message that was clearly sent en masse and only talks about why XYZ company is so great. This is where the extra two will show it’s worth.

I start all of my outreach messages with a subject line that’s relevant to the candidate I’m emailing. Passive candidates, or those that aren’t necessarily looking, will only open an email if they see something that directly related to them. Some examples of effective subject lines are:

  • Calling out their alma mater
  • Referencing an article that they wrote
  • Using a specific number that marks importance to them (“Your 120% quota attainment in FY’15”)

One time, I found that a candidate was in a small-town jam band. I searched on Youtube for the band and found their video and referenced the song in the subject line (I didn’t get a response but I was pretty proud of myself for going the extra two). Subject lines are the hook when it comes to fishing. You can’t expect to get any bites if you do not have a hook on your line.

Next up is the intro. Again, make this all about them and be sure to mention where the candidate currently works or previously worked to prove that you took to the time to go through their profile:

“Your background is impressive — I see that you were a member of the men’s water polo team at XYZ college. Congrats on consistently achieving the President’s club gold Qualifier at ToutApp.”

Finally, it’s time for your CTA — where you introduce your company and why you think they’d be a great fit.

Remember, you’re talking to Salespeople. Make it obvious what you want from them. Keep this part short yet informative. Pick out a few power punches that truly set your company apart from the millions of other companies vying for their time (such as uncapped commission, a strong Sales leader, a recent round of funding, etc.).

Pro-Tip: The power punch is your bait, so make it count.

“What’s Your Recruiting Stack”?

With the continued evolution of the Sales Stack and its predicted dominance in 2016, what about the Recruiting Stack? Just like in Sales, we should constantly be evaluating our stack and staying up to date on the most recent tools. Below is an insight into my current Recruiting Stack:

Pre-Contact (Lead Generation):

Prospect Builder: Just like Salespeople, Recruiters don’t want to spend all of their time on manual prospecting. Prospect Builder allows us to easily build a targeted pipeline of viable candidates at scale. I can build out my list using key triggers such as title, location and company. Once I have my list of emails I simply push this group into Tout and send a personalized group email.

“Source-a-thon”: Incentivizing employee referrals not only allows the employees to be involved in the hiring process, it also ensures the company gets vetted candidates. We do “Source-a-thons” once a quarter and ask employees to comb through their networks for qualified candidates for our priority hires.

Outbound (Messaging):

ToutApp: Sales reps are always testing and iterating on their messaging. The same should be done with recruiting. I use ToutApp’s template analytics to A and B test my subject lines and content to ensure I’m pushing the best performing content at all times.

Applicant Tracking System (Hiring Management):

Just as sales reps live in their CRM tools, recruiters should too live in the ATS to manage their stream of candidates. I use SmartRecruiters to manage both our inbound applications and internal referrals.

At a glance (Culture Initiative):

Glassdoor: Just like trials during the sales process, people want to see what it would be like to work there. I use Glassdoor to showcase our company initiatives, core values and also highlight what a day in the life would be like at ToutApp.


While Sales and Recruiting may have some tactical differences, one thing remains to be true with both: there is no room for BS. By investing the extra two minutes up front and personalizing your outreach, you can create a simple and repeatable recruiting funnel that will increase your likelihood of engagement.

And P.S. we’re hiring Salespeople.