How to Find Your Next Sales Rockstar


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Almost every time that I walk into a client’s office, whether for a meeting or to conduct sales training, I typically get the same question: Do you know any great salespeople who might be interested in a new role? In my day-to-day business we see a lot of talent and people in my network often reach out to me for recommendations as they seek new candidates. 

However, I find it amusing that when asked about their key hiring criteria, they tell me they are seeking a junior person who will work for little money and make 100 calls a day. This individual doesn’t exist! And every client we speak to wants this same person who I like to refer to as “unobtanium.”

Locating new, talented sales professionals is clearly a broader issue for most companies. In a recent article by Virginia Business, CEOs cite talent recruitment as a major concern. In a survey to 87 small and mid-sized companies, “finding, recruiting and retaining sales talent was identified as a significant challenge by more than 25% of CEOs.” 

And in his recent blog post entitled How You Can Win the Talent Wars, Tom Hart who is COO of Eliassen Group, a Technology Staffing and Consulting firm, cites the “total lack of awareness on college campuses” about potential sales careers and opportunities. This is a completely untapped candidate pool and, with some training and mentoring, recent college grads represent a major opportunity for sales candidate recruitment.

It is possible to find talented college recruits and inexperienced sales people who possess a fantastic work ethic. To take this one step further, consider recruiting Junior Military Officers (JMOs) and remember that these folks also have an added tax advantage for your company. With the right talent in place, you will need to provide the right training and mentoring that will arm them to be successful.

Some of the programs we have seen have put some very innovative ideas to address these issues. In one case, we recruited 4 JMOs and 4 college recruits, put them through a 16-week program (everything from product knowledge to sales training) and teamed the college recruit with the JMO. This program has yielded fantastic results. The leadership skills of the JMO combined with the unbridled enthusiasm of the college hire who also has ZERO fear of technology has resulted in the development of the most competent sales professionals I have ever seen.

So I will leave you with a few final tips to get your new candidate search moving:

  1. Reach out to local college and university career centers to learn how you can best gain access to recent grads – or, depending on the timing, soon-to-be grads.
  2. As always, mine your social and professional networks for candidates.
  3. Be sure that you have a training and mentoring plan in place prior to bringing in these new, green recruits.

Have you implemented a sales training program for recent college grads? We’d love to hear your thoughts!

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Tim Haller
Tim Haller has over 25 years of sales and sales management experience. He has delivered training and consulting to Fortune 100 clients across a variety of industries, including technology, business services, travel/leisure and biotechnology. Tim has trained hundreds of sales professionals to close business through the use of effective sales prospecting, negotiation, and closing techniques.


  1. Tim – your blog brings up several issues that are important. Similarly, I have perceived a heavy emphasis on discovering the top-tier of sales talent. Somehow, ‘rockstar’ has received wide acceptance as an appropriate goal. I think this is a mistake, because while there are some innate talents that successful salespeople share, top sales performers are developed, and in order for them to succeed, their work environment must be supportive. The ‘rockstar’ ideal is misleading because it has the connotation that everything needed for sales success is within the individual. All you have to do is hire him or her, and stand back. Voila! Rain! This, of course, is rarely true.

    Second, the ‘hire a rockstar’ mentality will only lead to frustration. I’ve been in sales and marketing for over 30 years, and can share that the people who I believe live up to the ‘rockstar’ image are but a small handful among the thousands of salespeople I’ve met and have worked with. A company should focus its hiring resources on finding people who are highly likely to successful in accomplishing the goals that the company requires of them. In short, they want excellent talent. I’ve met hundreds of people who fit into that category. They’re not ‘rockstars,’ and that’s OK.

    Second, I applaud your effort to reach out to newly-minted college graduates and to mentor and develop their potential as sales professionals. Recently, I reached out to my alma mater, the University of Virginia, to learn how career placements in sales positions were trending. The stats don’t include enough years to be meaningful. For 2014, the Commerce School reported eight undergraduates accepting positions in sales, compared to two in 2013. But it’s hard to know whether this increase reflects greater interest on the part of students, or something else.

    For the class of 2014, 10% of McIntire students responding indicated they had accepted a position in sales/marketing. Fully 85% of undergraduates accepted positions in finance/accounting/consulting. Whether salary plays into these career choices is unknown, but it is interesting to note that according to the data (please see, marketing/sales graduates were on the low end of the salary scale, receiving an average starting salary of $55,522, just above the average starting salary for someone with a BS in accounting ($55,339). The highest salaries went to graduates going into consulting, with an average starting salary of $67,052.

    Anecdotally, I believe that among millennials, sales has a difficult image problem. One of the reasons I wrote a recent blog, “Salesperson Quits Job After Reading Article Explaining Why He’s Loser.” As sales professionals, if we want to inspire young people to enter the profession, we need to abandon past assumptions about why people might want sales as a career. For me, 30 years ago, it was about money and autonomy. Today, it might be those things, and more. Or not. But one thing I know, when messaging about a profession is highly negative – as it often is about salespeople – it’s hard to raise interest.

    This is a topic of great interest to me, and in the next few months, my company will be conducting research into the perceptions young people have about selling. I have started to reach out to career planning offices in my home state of Virginia. I look forward to continuing the dialog.


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