How To Select A Sales And Marketing Recruiting Firm

There are lots of staffing companies, executive search firms & headhunters in the marketplace. If your company is looking to hire sales or marketing talent, how can you distinguish between these different service providers to determine who will do the best job of finding you the top candidates that you need?

One of the key things to look for…probably the top thing to look for in fact, is a company that specializes only in sales and marketing engagements. Search firms that specialize in sales and marketing are few and far between.

There are a lot of staffing and recruiting firms out there that specialize in finance, accounting, IT, etc, but very few that actually have a focus in the sales and marketing arena. Why is this? Because sales and marketing searches are the most challenging recruiting assignments to do correctly. It’s much more difficult to measure the skills, experience and ability of a salesperson than it is to measure the experience of a programmer or an accounting professional. This is why a lot of companies that are in the staffing business shy away from doing sales & marketing search assignments.

Sales & marketing search specialists are staffed with VP’s of sales, and or sales and marketing executives who have lots of experience in hiring this kind of personnel…so what you’re really doing is hiring their expertise at having done the same thing over and over and over again. They have much more rigorous processes, sales profiling tools and proven techniques to get at the heart of whether or not sales and marketing candidates are really capable of producing the results you need for your company. Likewise they have large databases and pools of talent that they draw from, since they make it their business to track the top candidates and make them available for client searches.

So if you’re considering going outside or outsourcing your sales and marketing recruiting to a search firm, make sure that the one that you select is focused in sales and marketing only. If you do, you have a much better chance of attracting and retaining the kind of top talent that you’ll need in order to accelerate your company’s sales growth.

Do You Suck at Sales and Marketing? Here’s How Not to Get Bitten in the Butt!

“Let’s face it. You’re brilliant at what you do, but you SUCK at marketing,” said my business mentor when we first started working together. “You’re going to need to fall in love with it.”

“And pigs have wings.” I thought, while nodding in pretend agreement. I was paying him so I at least needed to show willing.

Back then, marketing and sales was something I wanted nothing to do with. I wanted to do the fun stuff, the change agent stuff: retreats, workshops, deep transformation stuff.

Sales was for people with toothy smiles, perfect hair and pin stripe suits who said things like; “But wait, there’s more!’ or “So, Mr. Jones, would you like to buy your policy on Tuesday or Thursday?”

Other people were good at it. Not me. Silly, I know. All exaggerated projection. I didn’t want to admit it, but it scared me.

Which is kind of weird given my life up to that point. I’ve travelled to the world alone, lived in all sorts of exotic places, climbed remote Thai mountains with freedom fighters brandishing AK47′s, scuba dived in the dark, jumped out of airplanes, spoken in front of hundreds. And here I am afraid to close a $2000 deal? Really?

I know it sounds silly but the rejection piece was more potent than the physical safety thing. And therein lay a solution. I just needed to translate the skill set.

This is a silly, but potent example. I remember when I first moved to Chiang Mai, Thailand, back in my twenties, I rode a bicycle around the city. On occasion I became a moving target for rabid looking stray dogs. They would chase me, fangs a flaring. I knew not to flee (I tried, unsuccessfully several times) as they could always outpace me.

Very quickly I figured out what to do instead. I would stop in my tracks, get off my bike, stare directly into their eyes and start walking menacingly towards them. It worked like a charm every time. Off they would skulk, tail between their legs. It actually became quite a game.

After a while I found myself actively looking for dogs who had the foolish audacity to come after me.

Lesson: Turn and face what you’re afraid of, look it right in the eyes and start moving towards it. If you run away it will keep chasing you and bite you in the butt.

I simply had forgotten to apply that to sales.

Now, facing a challenging dip in business and no longer having someone else doing the sales bit for me, I had to finally turn and look this snarling beast in the eye.

What I didn’t expect was that it would become so much fun. You see, in reality, marketing and sales is all about psychology. And I’ve always been fascinated by people and what makes us tick. And that’s sales all over – why do people do what they do? What makes them buy? What makes them run away?

In fact, for many years when I lived in Asia, I was a freelance writer, writing feature articles about travel, and people. People who did interesting things. I just hadn’t translated that into the sales arena yet.

Now, necessity was the mother of my reinvention.

I began to have a blast. I started creating videos, writing blogs, doing tele-classes, creating campaigns. All the things I’d been dancing around and never quite doing. And not only was I applying my new-found passion for sales into my own business, but showing others how to do the same too.

I found that my niche is in fact messengers and change agents, entrepreneurs, who are amazing at what they do, but who generally suck at sales and need to get out of their own way. By the end of my courses, they are gutsy, out there and owning it in a powerful way. It’s a pleasure to behold.

Not only that, but we have a LOT of fun.

So, if you’re feeling a little queasy at the thought of sales and marketing here are a couple of things you can explore. Get a notebook and answer the following questions (colored pens will help):

1. What are you really afraid of? Be honest. (Rejection? Looking stupid?)

2. Where in your life are you courageous or audacious? (e.g. Have you bungee jumped? How are your karaoke skills? Are you un-squeamish at the sight of blood? Do you ride a Harley? Is your hair pink?)

Find ways to translate that courage into sales and marketing. Be creative.

And most of all, stop taking yourself so seriously. Sales can actually be fun. And the more fun you’re having, the easier your clients will feel in your presence. Which means, when you get to the conversation about money, they will barely notice the close because they were converted to you a long time ago.

A smart phone with a camera helps too, because videos are among the most powerful tools you can use – if you know how.

That’s for another blog. For now, my parting thought is, if you do suck at sales all you need is a bicycle and an attitude and you’re off to a great start.

And remember, only when you walk towards your fear will you find your greatness.

So tell me, do your pigs have wings too? Chime in below and let me know if you’re about to take flight.

Held Back Sales and Marketing

The best sales and marketing is less about promoting and more about holding back.

As strange as it sounds, in order to keep a customer engaged – especially early on as you strive to build a relationship and trust – the best thing to do is to not give them what they want. Instead, stimulate interaction by giving your customer some of what they ask for while delivering a complete experience in successive stages.

Your goal is to engage your customer in a number of ongoing conversations and interactions instead of just one and you do this by providing breadcrumbs for them to follow you down the path of mutual benefit. To that end, here are Don’ts and Do’s for engaging in what I call “Held Back” Sales and Marketing:


(1) Don’t talk about your product… unless you have no other option! Bad sales and marketing is about incessantly pitching your product. Good sales and marketing is about uncovering need and developing relationships

(2) Don’t answer every question: There are 2 problems with answering every question a customer asks. First, it gives them control of the conversation. Second, if they have all their questions answered they no longer need you. Instead, create suspense and next steps

(3) Don’t provide all information: This follows from point (2) and is also contrary to traditional sales and marketing approaches. The fact is that if you provide a customer will all the information they are looking for – especially in a complex, multi-step sale – then they often go off and make their mind up by themselves

(4) Don’t suggest solutions: Going back to point (1) we need to keep in mind to let customers “discover” the solution by themselves – your solution. Your job is to listen and lay breadcrumbs based on what they are saying. Try not to jump ahead but instead lead the way


(1) Do engage and listen: If there is one thing that most sales and marketing professionals are not as good at as they should be, it is listening. We like to proclaim and explain whereas we should rather develop a talent for creating and managing discussions with customers

(2) Do ask questions: Remember that a person asking the questions and listening is the one in control of the conversation. Rather than give in to the temptation to lapse into sales-and-marketing-speak, use thoughtful pauses in the conversation to ask more questions

(3) Do build trust and rapport: A common misconception in sales and marketing is that your job is to talk about your company, products and services. While this certainly is the endpoint of a customer discussion, the starting point is building a relationship

(4) Do book the next step: Once you have built sufficient credibility with the customer through your professional empathy you may take on the role of guide. Your job is to engage customers on a journey, step by step, to a mutually beneficial desired outcome

Rather than trying to push customers forward, hold back and create a sales and marketing “pull” instead!