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5 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Sales Recruiting Firm

1. How does your firm find talent?

Most recruiters are network based meaning they have a network of sales professionals that they have developed a relationship with. Usually, their network will be geographically or industry based. Should they have the right candidate in their network, they can deliver them to you quickly. Often, this isn’t the case as the average success rate (% of searches they take on that result in a hire) for a continent recruiter is 20% (source – Insightsquared Staffing Benchmark Report).

Sales Talent operates from a pure headhunting or what we call a client based model. Because we deliver the exact backgrounds our clients require, our success is much higher (59.8% in 2017). It should be noted that headhunted candidates are not actively looking and behave differently from candidates that are actively looking. We cover how to handle headhunted candidates in 4 Rules of Headhunting Elite Sales Professionals.

2. Who will perform the sourcing and screening of candidates?

It might come as a surprise to learn that the recruiter that you work with at a recruiting firm may not be doing any of the actual recruiting. It’s also a common practice for many sales recruiting firms to farm out their sourcing efforts to an offshore, 3rd party based in the Philippines or India.

Here are a few of the reasons why we have chosen to dedicate one recruiter to each search:

Accountability – we want one person to own a search start to finish. This dramatically improves success rates.

Fit – the odds for a successful hires goes way up when the same recruiter that establishes the hiring criteria with a client, conducts the in-depth interviews with the candidates.

Quality of Candidates Delivered – the most talented of sales professionals are usually the most wary as they have a lot to lose. Attracting and closing them requires on-point messaging and a full understanding of your opportunity. We do not go to market unless we have the necessary information to operate as an extension of your company.

Start to finish, Sales Talent clients work with the same recruiter for a given search.

3. What is your current req load?

The average contingency recruiter takes on 6.9 new searches per month per Insightsquared’s research. That’s a new search every three business days. In the graphic below (taken from Insightsquared’s Staffing Benchmark Report), the quartiles (1-4) represent a recruiting firm’s growth rate. The fastest growing firms (top 25%) took on the most work.

In 2017, a recruiter on Sales Talent’s team took on an average of 2.9 new searches per month. This ensures that they have the necessary hours (57 hours average/search) to perform a thorough and ultimately successful search.

4. Does your firm provide weekly search updates?

In many cases, the first time you’ll hear back from a sales recruitment firm is when they present a candidate or inform you that they were unsuccessful in finding talent that fits your company. With so much at stake, find out how they will keep you in the loop with their search progress and what information they will share.

We provide our clients with transparency into the work that we are performing on their behalf. This information is shared during a weekly update call that details our pipeline strength, market feedback, and competitive analysis.

5. What’s your protocol when your 1st pass fails to produce the desired results?

It is standard protocol in the contingent recruiting world to give each new search one solid pass. Given that the average recruiter will take on a new search every three business days, they simply don’t have the available hours to devote more than that. To understand help you understand why, the typical recruiter is focused on getting sendouts for their candidates (a sendout is when a candidate meets with a client). The best way to do this is to send their strongest candidates to as many viable opportunities as possible. Because of this orientation, we think of network-based recruiters as following a candidate driven model.

Sales Talent has adopted a client-driven model. Our focus is on delivering 3-5 thoroughly interviewed and on target candidates for each search that we bring on. Occasionally, our first pass fails to produce enough talented candidates to hit our deliverable goal. When this happens, we have a structured “deeper dive” process that allows us to re-engage a search quickly and deliver results. This process works. In 2017 Sales Talent clients interviewed an average of 4.33 candidates per search.

We hope that these 5 questions help you hire a sales recruiting firm that can solve your sales hiring problems. In the end, what matters most is finding a recruiting partner that can consistently deliver the talent your company needs.

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Chris Carlson

My name is Chris Carlson and I’m the founder and President of Sales Talent. This blog grew out of my desire to document and share what I’ve learned in my two plus decades of sales recruiting and leading Sales Talent. Our posts are aimed at sales professionals and leaders that speaks to talent selection, team building, or career advancement. If you have a topic that you’d like my take on, please reach out to me.

You can find Chris Carlson on LinkedIn or contact him directly at: