Sales Recruiting By The Numbers - Part 1

February 04, 2018

Over the years I have talked to many business owners and managers who did not have much experience with sales recruiting (or more specifically, SUCCESSFUL sales recruiting). They asked me a lot of questions about numbers and ratios, including:

  • How many resumes should I expect to receive when I post a sales recruiting ad?

  • What percentage of respondents should I expect to contact to schedule telephone screening calls?

  • What percentage of respondents is likely to "pass" the telephone screening call and warrant an in-person interview?

  • How many job candidates should I plan to assess?

I'm happy to share information about the numbers and ratios I have experienced when delivering "a la carte" sales recruiting services on behalf of clients. Let's take a granular look at the steps in the sales recruiting process and, where appropriate, the numbers associated with each step.

1. Write an Effective Sales Recruiting Ad

What is an effective sales recruiting ad? One that clearly identifies the key capabilities and characteristics required to succeed in your company's sales position. An effective sales recruiting ad also avoids asking for capabilities/characteristics that don't directly impact sales success.

I won't go into more detail here because the information is already available in this free "Performance-Based Recruiting" special report.

2. Compile a List of Targeted Screening and Interview Questions

As you might expect, these screening and interview questions should relate directly to the key capabilities and characteristics that are required to succeed in your company's sales position. This is what performance-based recruiting is all about - focusing the entire sales recruiting "conversation" (beginning with your recruiting ad) on the capabilities and characteristics that are most important for success in YOUR company's sales position.

It is important that you write down the questions you intend to ask for one very important reason - consistency. It is critical that you give each sales job candidate you invite to participate in a telephone screening call or interview the same opportunity to explain his or her ability to perform the tasks that are most critical for success in your sales position.

Why do I bring this up? Because it is very common for interviewers to give job candidates "a free pass" if the job candidates make a favorable first impression. The interviewer may very well switch from grilling the job candidate to trying to convince them to join the company.

The problem with this approach is emotions, biases, perceptions, stereotypes and first impressions are all significant contributors to "80/20" sales performance (where just 20% of salespeople produce 80% of sales). If you want to substantially reduce your chances of making expensive hiring mistakes, one way to do it is to put more  consistency into your sales recruiting process.

3. Post Your Recruiting Ad

Performance-based recruiting ads tend to be pretty long - as much as one entire 8.5" x 11" page of text and bullets. As a result, these types of ads don't lend themselves to newspaper advertising. They are a better fit for posting online. My recommendation to clients is that they post their performance-based recruiting ads on websites such as, and

4. Screen Resumes

Now let's start getting into the numbers. My experience has been that a well-written recruiting ad will attract 60 to 100 responses in 30 days. This number may be higher or lower based upon what you say in your recruiting ad, the availability of qualified candidates in your specific geography, plus a host of other factors.

Reviewing resumes typically took me an average of 3 minutes per resume. You may be faster or slower at reviewing resumes; that's not important. What IS important is that you make sure you look for very specific information when you review resumes.

A good place to start is by looking for quantified accomplishments. These are indicated by statements such as the candidate exceeded quota by a specific percentage, grew market share by a specific percentage or dollar amount, grew sales in their territory by a specific percentage or dollar amount, etc.

It is also important to look for information that suggests the candidate has had experience performing the specific types of tasks that are most critical for success in your company's sales position.

Next week we'll look at more numbers associated with four additional steps of the sales recruiting process in Sales Recruiting By The Numbers - Part 2.