How to Hire Great Reps with a Recruitment Firm

By Sabrina Balmick

If you haven’t worked with a sales recruiting firm before, selecting a partner can be daunting. To streamline the vetting process and get the most out of your partnership, consider the following seven tips.

1. Sales Recruitment Experience
Not all recruiting firms specialize in sales recruitment. Sales recruitment specialists have an advantage over generalist firms thanks to a deep understanding of the soft skills that make up great salespeople.

When evaluating prospective firms, review the firm’s annual placements in sales positions and the industries they cover. Look for firms that have made placements within the past year. Discuss the methods the company uses to build talent pools and feed their internal databases. A strong talent network is critical to filling highly specialized positions, and – if a firm hasn’t filled a position in your company’s vertical in many years – they aren’t likely to be able to present qualified candidates quickly.

2. Candidate Quality
Recruiting for sales should involve more than a basic prescreen to assess interest and experience. Look for depth of detail with candidate submissions – not just resume attachments.

Your sales recruiter should be providing a solid interview recap along with recommendations about how the candidate may fit within your organization. In addition, your recruiter should follow up with you regularly on submissions and take your feedback into account.

3. Recruitment Volume
Building a sales team requires tactics that are different from one-off placements. For high-volume recruitment, look for timelines and scalability. How quickly can their team produce a pipeline of candidates? How does the firm respond to hiring scaling up or down? How does the firm measure performance? Key performance indicators should include a minimum number of submittals and placements per week, along with ratios for submittals to offers and submittals to placements. If your firm is experiencing turnover, hiring goals (and pipelines) should adjust to accommodate it so you’re not constantly backfilling the same positions.

Many sales recruiting partners will also consult on your recruiting process to ensure you aren’t losing strong talent to a lengthy, inefficient process – especially if you’re filling a high volume of positions.

4. Placement Guarantees
Hiring guarantees can vary based the level of the position as well as your company’s turnover. Ask how your firm determines placement guarantees and how often they replace candidates.

5. The Candidate Experience
Companies lose great candidates because of a poor hiring experience. One of the biggest complaints from candidates is a lack of communication throughout the search process.

Don’t let your recruiting process become another black hole. Recruiters should communicate transparently at all stages of the hiring cycle and make themselves available to answer candidate questions. A sales recruiting partner who actively communicates with candidates can help humanize your employer brand and also present better-informed candidates.

6. Exclusivity
This is another piece of the employer branding puzzle – especially for firms looking to fill a position as quickly as possible. While it makes logical sense to work with as many partners as possible to find the best candidate, this tactic often backfires. If you’re recruiting within a specific market, your sales recruiting partners likely will be speaking with the same people. This may confuse candidates and damage your brand and prevent you from hiring effectively. If you do wish to work with multiple partners, consider offering territory exclusivity to minimize confusion and keep your pipelines moving.

7. Client Care
Just as you wouldn’t want your sales recruiter to perform a 15-minute prescreen with a candidate, you wouldn’t want your recruiter to spend only a few minutes on the phone with you before taking the job order.

Your sales recruiter should understand the position completely before beginning any recruitment efforts, and should be available to take questions and facilitate the interview and offer process. Look for a partner with a team dedicated to your search, including an account manager and a recruiter.

Sabrina Balmick is a marketing manager at ACA Talent. To learn more about recruiting and retaining sales talent, visit