Cultivate an environment for selling and top-tier salespeople will be easier to find.

Although the unemployment rate in the United States is at a level not seen since the early 1980s, sales leaders are still frustrated by the lack of top-tier sales talent in their applicant pools. It may feel like these highly sought-after superstars are mythical creatures that we often hear of but never see. How do you find out where they’re hiding? And when you do, how do you convince them to move to your organization?

Here are 5 tips on how you can attract target-busting sales professionals:

Embrace a pro-sales culture within your organization.

Although “high-performing” salespeople might be defined somewhat differently from one company to the next, if you want them in your organization, you better make sure it’s a place where salespeople are embraced, trusted and respected. Make sure that you have a culture where salespeople are treated respectfully, are compensated fairly, and have reasonable targets. Offer them opportunities for professional development and incentives that are important to them. Don’t treat them like bad stepchildren you would rather not have to see every day. By paying attention to your organization’s attitude towards salespeople, you can cultivate a reputation as an amazing place to work if you’re in sales.

Don’t “cover-up” sales.

Contrary to popular belief, the best salespeople aren’t greedy, self-involved grifters. They are professionals who fearlessly advocate for the products and companies they represent. They are the “rainmakers,” the “new business development maniacs,” and the sales “bad asses.” They keep the lights on and payrolls funded. They are your organization’s “essential workers.” It’s important not to diminish their confidence by insisting they disguise their role by calling them “relationship specialists” because it may seem more palatable.

People know when they’re speaking to a salesperson, so it doesn’t matter what title they carry. The only people more comfortable with “relationship specialists” are people who are ashamed of or uncomfortable with sales. That is not indicative of a culture that embraces salespeople. (That said, call them what you want, but be careful not to imply that you think what you’re asking them to do is “dirty.”)

Review your job postings.

If you’re still posting ads on job boards that sound like they’re from the 1990s, stop. When you post your open position be sure it’s well written with upbeat messaging. If you need help, get the assistance of your marketing department. The formal, stiff job postings that appeared to represent well-run organizations 20 years ago feel boring and dated!

Be sure you’re honest about the job duties, too. If the salesperson is responsible for generating leads and bringing in new business, don’t sugarcoat or dance around the amount of prospecting that is required. And while there’s nothing wrong with wanting “highly energetic self-starters,” those terms are subjective. Make sure your applicants know they won’t be rewarded with a self-starting energy bonus, but rather a bonus based on closed deals and results.

Develop your ideal salesperson avatar.

As recommended by, decide exactly what characteristics you want in a salesperson before you hire and proactively seek the people that fit that profile. You can search for them on social media networks, such as LinkedIn, or by simply making a cold call. In his book The Sales Acceleration Formula, Mark Roberge recommends identifying companies in your industry that offer great sales training and reach out to their salespeople. Not everyone is comfortable with this method, but you’ll never know if someone is not satisfied with their current situation and needs a change of scenery unless you ask. If they are happy, it’s always great to make a connection for future consideration.

Scrutinize your recruitment process.

Are you inadvertently weeding out high-performers? Are your recruiters aiming for mediocrity? We tend to hire people like ourselves, so be careful not to fall into that trap. You need someone who fits your culture and aligns with your values, but unless you’re a sales superstar yourself, it may not be someone you “click” with.

Also, if you’re using a personality assessment and you’re getting a lot of misses, consider a different assessment or different criteria before the applicant takes the personality assessment. Research shows that there is a weak link between personality type and sales success. (In fact, a 2013 study suggested that ambiverts were more likely to succeed than extroverts, but research isn’t flashy or sexy, so the stereotype prevails.)

At the end of the day, if you want the best sales talent, you need to be among the best sales employers.

Trust us, there are plenty of top-tier salespeople out there, but it’s also important to remember that they have options. High-performers can choose to work for organizations where they can thrive. When you create the right sales environment that invites salespeople to sell, you make it much easier to attract superstar prospects.

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