Where’s the Best Place to Find Media Sales Candidates?

Fri Mar 6, 2015

C. Lee Smith

C. Lee Smith is the President/CEO of Sales Development Services.

C. Lee Smith is the President/CEO of Sales Development Services.

77% of media sales and executive managers believe it has gotten even harder to “hire quality salespeople” than it was just a year ago. When I presented this finding from our 2015 State of Media Sales survey at a conference recently, a question came from the audience – and it was one most of us have asked ourselves.

“I’m tired of having to sort through resumes of fork lift operators (whenever I post an open position). Where’s the best place to find good media sales reps these days?”

Since I had more than 150 media sales managers packing the room at the time, I turned the question back to the audience. That discussion led to seven good places to look the next time you have a job opening – other than poaching from a competitor. All of these potential candidates are currently selling, but looking for a better opportunity.

  1. Waitresses. They work hard, they have to have attention to detail and they know their compensation ultimately depends on the customer’s satisfaction. You can ask them for a recommendation and they’ll be well versed enough to give it to you – either based on what they like or what a lot of the other customers are ordering. They also have to have good relationships with management, the kitchen and unreasonable customers. Sound familiar?
  1. Baristas. They may be lousy at spelling your name, but they have to remember your “double shot caramel machiatto with skim milk and no whip” and have to know how to make it – and make it fast – during the high-stress morning rush. The good ones are friendly and can remember something about you based on what you usually order. All of those drink combinations are not unlike the various media products your people have to sell every day.
  1. Bartenders. They possess the qualities of waitresses and baristas, but often times also have to be skilled in the art of conversation. That requires a level of curiosity, desirable in media sales, while delicately not crossing the line into creepiness. This one has the added benefit of justifying happy hour as research!
  1. Retail jewelry salespeople. These folks have to sell things that people want, but don’t necessarily feel they NEED. They understand they may also have to sell somebody other than the primary decision maker. More importantly, they understand the emotional side of sales – how buying this item will make you (or your special someone) FEEL. That’s a story too often left untold in the typical media sales call.
  1. Enterprise Rent-A-Car. There’s something about the way Enterprise hires and trains young people that doesn’t seem to translate to the other rental car companies. Their employees are usually energetic, bright and good team players. But they’re also overworked and underpaid. A good account list could be a step up for them.
  1. LinkedIn. Start with your connections, then review your 2nd and 3rd connections. If you find someone that’s in between jobs, or has just launched a new “consulting” gig, you have the benefit of knowing somebody you can ask about them before sending off that first email. You can also find candidates by getting involved in LinkedIn Groups – like the Media Sales Professionals group or others specific to your local market. LinkedIn searching works best when you have a lot of connections. 500+ is a good goal for a media sales manager.
  1. Referrals. I saved the most obvious for last. Ask your best employees about any former colleagues they’ve worked with that might be frustrated where they’re at now and a good fit for your company culture. Stay away from their friends, family and drinking buddies if at all possible. One note of caution. Good salespeople are sometimes not the greatest at selecting good employees. I don’t know exactly why that is, but maybe it’s because we’re trained to see the opportunities in everybody?

And one more of my own…

7+1. Your own media. Ideally, you don’t want to hire someone who’s just looking for a paycheck. You want somebody who has a passion for what they’ll be selling – and that often means they’re already using it. So why not use some of your unsold space/avails to promote the benefits of working where they’re already watching, listening or reading?

It’s clear that websites like Monster, CareerBuilder and Indeed.com generate far more undesirable candidates than good ones. Of course, the good sales reps aren’t sitting at home watching daytime TV, they’re out selling somewhere. The best candidates might just be under your nose if you think differently about where to look the next time you have an opening for a closer.


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About C. Lee Smith

C. Lee Smith is the President/CEO of SalesFuel - a firm he founded in 1989 with the mission to empower media sales professionals to help their advertisers make intelligent decisions on how to spend their marketing dollars. He is a graduate of Ohio University with an Executive Leadership Certificate from Cornell University. He is also one of the world's few (Jeffrey) Gitomer Certified Advisors for consultative sales.

View all posts by C. Lee Smith