Secrets to Attracting Sales Talent in Financial Services
By Jessica Miller-Merrell ● March 12, 2019 at 11:13 AM
Attracting sales talent in the financial services sector is no easy feat. In January of 2019, the unemployment rate stood at 4 percent, up from 3.9 percent in the previous month and following a month-long government shutdown. While that number signifies a strong economy, it also creates a challenge for financial services organizations who are trying to fill sales positions. In contracting labor markets, financial services leaders tend to emphasize retention because the pool of available talent has diminished. However, sales talent can be incredibly nomadic, and you can’t win their loyalty through perks alone. Your salaries must also be competitive, not only with your peers, but also with companies from fintech startups to corporate giants like Amazon.
There is no single trick to attract the top sales talent your company needs. The one common factor in a successful sales hiring strategy is having a solid talent funnel built in to your ongoing hiring programs. In 2007, I started my blog with the goal of creating talent funnels for sales roles. The ability to sell is a unique talent, and it can be difficult to find candidates with experience in sectors like financial services. Since then, my blog has grown into a HR information portal, and companies like Talroo are taking on the challenge of helping companies reach candidates for financial services sales roles.
Secrets to Attracting Sales Talent in Financial Services
In this post, we’ll cover five areas that can help your recruiting team reach the sales talent you need for your financial services roles.
- Your job descriptions and requirements. This also covers your job postings, which link to your job descriptions on your career site. Your job descriptions should be informative, detailed, and appeal to someone with a sales mindset - meaning, this is where you sell the job to them. Some of the best sales job descriptions I’ve seen weren’t written by a human resources professional; they were written by a salesperson. Take your job description and posting drafts and let your sales team edit them or even rewrite them. Because these live on your career site, this is fairly low risk and the site traffic and traffic source data will tell you if sales candidates are engaging. If there’s ever a time to A/B test a job description, this is it.
You should also consider your requirements. A contracting labor market means that you’ll want to expand your search and look outside the traditional talent pool. A candidate’s best experience may not come from working at another financial services organization, but in a sales role in another industry entirely. Does it help a salesperson to be familiar with financial products and services? Absolutely. But those things are more easily taught than teaching someone with no sales experience how to sell.
- Video and images. Your career site is an opportunity to tell a story about your company environment, role (inside versus outside sales), and culture. In marketing, we use graphics to sell products and services. Recruitment marketing lends itself to using graphics like video and images to sell your company, to explain why someone would prefer to work for you versus your competitors, and to give candidates a reason to leave their current position.
- Target your outreach. You won’t find a candidate more immune to recruiting sales tactics than a sales candidate. This is where targeting and building relationships comes in. With a focus on your talent funnel at the consideration and awareness stage, search for candidates in industries that often have sales roles, like fundraising, non-profit marketing, call center or sales in retail where quotas are required but the schedule or salary may be limited. Reach out to these candidates in a personal way, with the goal of simply introducing yourself and your company, and without an ask. Do your research, read what they write and share on LinkedIn or social channels, and personalize your email with a little something about them. Again, you have to be a salesperson to connect with a salesperson - so using ordinary outreach tactics are going to be less effective than with other candidates.
- Create scalable and repeatable talent funnels. Online webinars, career fairs, and content marketing to sales candidates are all value-adds you can offer that your ideal candidate is likely to engage with. Know that you’re likely reaching candidates who are currently employed, so offering something that helps them be successful in their current jobs can be the winning factor that makes your company stand out to them. You don’t have to win on day one, you just have to be memorable.
- Big picture strategy. As I mentioned earlier, there is no magic trick to attracting sales talent. Creating talent funnels is about being strategic, not reactive. Your big picture starts with your existing top sales performers. Looking ahead, you’ll want to be the company they return to if they leave for a better opportunity that isn’t as great as they thought it would be, and you’ll want to be the great employee experience that makes them refer friends and colleagues. This is where alumni networks can be extremely valuable. In the financial services sector, there are two really good examples:
Bain & Company’s alumni network stands at more than 13,000 members. The aim of the program is to build enduring relationships with employees that so even after they have left they remain connected to the company. Members can access contact information of other alumni through the directory, which is a big help for future business partnerships or collaborations. There is also a career development program available for alumni looking to further their own careers or access resources to help find talent for their new teams. Alumni have access to webinars, a private social network, a few perks, and plenty of industry trends and news.
Citi has more than 21,000 alumni in 100 countries around the world. Its alumni network gives back to former employees with benefits such as museum passes, tickets to sporting events and merchant discounts. It also offers opportunities to stay connected with job vacancies at Citi, for those wanting to return or to refer someone. Alumni also have the chance to volunteer with nonprofits through the program.
You don’t have to break your budget to set up an alumni network as part of your talent funnel. Simply creating an alumni group for your former top performers on LinkedIn is a great start.
Finally, your big picture strategy should always have recruitment marketing in mind. Whether you’re hiring sales roles for a large financial services firm or a smaller local market, candidate nurturing within your hiring funnel must be active and consistently updated. This is the standout that will help you plan for upcoming roles for this year, but also for what your company might look like in five or ten years.
Topics: Talent Acquisition
Updated March 12, 2019