Sales Candidates, Sales Compensation and the Number of Resumes

Based on the number of clients I’ve been helping to hire candidates of late, it’s clear to me that while the killer ad is key to attracting the right pool of candidates, the assumed income represents the secret combination to the treasure.  Look at the statistics for these four clients after a single posting:



Number of
PlasticSales $  75,000 25 
FoodSales$  50,000  6
LandscapingSales Mgr. $100,000  45    
FoodSales Mgr.$125,000283

As you can see, the number of resumes was in direct proportion to the assumed income.  The assumed income comes from the line in the ad where we state, “Must have prior income of at least $75,000”.

You might think that there are plenty of salespeople and would be salespeople who would like to earn $50,000 but there are two factors that run counter to that thought.

The first factor is based on the National Compensation Survey which tells us that the average ineffective salesperson earns $67,000.  You could interpret that statistic a little and say that new salespeople are generally ineffective and make up a large portion of that $67,000.  As a result, you could say that the average entry level salesperson earns $67,000.

The second factor is based on the criteria in the ad.  The criteria is found in the first three sentences. The ads I recommend for my clients most always start with “You must have prior success selling” followed by the criteria.  What most recruiters, sales experts and HR professionals have trouble understanding is that the greater the criteria (more requirements) and the smaller the assumed income (like $75,000), the smaller the available pool of candidates.  And when you get below the entry level income threshold of $67,000, it’s not unreasonable to think that there isn’t a pool of candidates that have any of the experiences you list in your criteria.

So what can you do if you have to fill one of those sales positions that won’t pay the sales major league minimum? You must somehow rework your compensation plan, and raise the bar in terms of what a good salesperson should generate in revenue.