3 Ways to Beat the Talent Shortage in Sales

Talented salespeople are hard to find, and even harder to hire. Sales positions consistently rank among the top 3 most difficult job openings to fill.

The most obvious drawback to a shortage of sales talent is opportunity cost (lost revenue from all the sales that employees in vacant positions might have made).

However, employers often report far greater problems. Talent shortages can leave existing employees overworked and reduce their ability to serve existing clients. Over time, this can lower engagement and morale, increase turnover, and thus perpetuate an even greater talent shortage.


What can we do about this? Here are 3 of the best emerging strategies.


1. Compete for talent

It is important to realize that the job market is competitive—for you. If you want to fill positions, you need to be able to compete for talent.

This applies to every step of the process. Your job postings are competing, with every other job posting, for an applicant’s time and attention. The application process, the interview process, any information provided about the job and company, and the job offer all need to do one thing: Effectively persuade candidates that they want to work for you.


If you haven’t been actively competing on each of these levels, now is a good time to start.

As the economy recovers, candidates’ options are increasing. A recent survey found that almost 30% of hiring managers recently had a job offer rejected by a candidate, and nearly 50% expect to start offering higher starting salaries.


2. Rethink traditional qualifications

For some positions, a talent shortage is entirely a problem for recruiting. The need is to convince more qualified people to apply for positions and accept job offers.

But in many areas, a talent shortage is a sort of Catch-22. Employers only want to hire people with previous experience doing the job, and the shortage persists because less-experienced applicants never get the chance to gain experience.


What does a qualified candidate for a sales position really look like? Take a second look at your current expectations. Do your employees really need to show up on Day 1 with a college degree, familiarity with sales tools, or years of experience selling?

Even if these things are just listed as preferred qualifications, consider that listing them probably discourages otherwise-qualified people from even applying in the first place.

What should you look for instead? Look for competence, motivation, and the right attitude.


3. Use technology to avoid over-simplifying

What determines competence, motivation, and attitude? To a large extent, it’s personality.


Knowing this can lead to some valuable insights. For example, as we have discussed before, optimism predicts sales performance. Overall, people who are optimistic tend to sell a lot more. But this is only a small piece of a much more complex picture.

What really matters is how personality traits combine to create an overall work style. For example, who sounds like a better salesperson?

  • The optimist who is also very impulsive: Expects that prospects will be interested. Has a tendency to interrupt and talk over other people, and makes large demands early in negotiations.
  • The pessimist who is also very conscientious: Expects to be questioned by prosepcts. Spends a lot of time preparing to handle objections, manage expectations, and find agreeable solutions.

This is only one very basic example. What happens when we consider how all of a person’s traits combine?

It becomes incredibly difficult to describe. Almost no one has time for that.

This is where technology comes in. The best modern personality assessment platforms (like the Cangrade CAP) can crunch all those numbers behind-the-scenes. The full complexity of each applicant’s unique combination of personality traits can be transformed into very simple, actionable recommendations.


While there may sometimes be a shortage of candidates with specific qualifications or experience, there will never be a shortage of candidates with personality.


Want to learn more about how Cangrade assessments really work? Request a demo here.



Image credit: Alan Clark

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