Why is hiring for sales so difficult?

Darrol Stevens and Ollie BennIf there is one skill neoci get asked to hire for the most in 2023, it’s sales! Everyone and anyone, from resellers to vendors, alt nets to software houses….everyone wants sales people. And yet, they are probably the most difficult hire in telecoms right now.

So why is it so difficult?

Firstly, hiring for sales has always been tricky. Many new business sales people feel more comfortable in account management, there are far less hunters than farmers.

Secondly, they are a risky hire… it can take a long time before a sales person becomes profitable. If they don’t perform, it can be very costly for the employer. Telecoms companies are understandably careful with who they hire to sell their solutions, often creating convoluted interview processes to try to avoid hiring the wrong people… this, however, will put the best sales people off!

But there are other factors at play…

Sales people in telecoms often earn recurring revenues as part or all of their commission package. The best sales people (the ones we all want) will be making a very healthy amount of commission. Why would they decide to walk away from that and start again? Unless they are desperately unhappy with their employer, it will take a seriously compelling offer to prise them away from their nest egg. Who can blame them? Even if you offer a ‘ramp up’ period, it is unlikely that a business can sustain that for long.

Another factor making it difficult is the expectation that they have a ‘black book’ of contacts they can bring with them. Any sales person worth their salt would feel highly uncomfortable about building strong relationships of trust and pitching that their product is the best, only to then jump to a competitor and say the same thing all over again. They would lose all credibility putting their integrity and reputation at stake.

How do we solve the ‘sales hiring’ conundrum?

Well, I don’t think anyone has all the answers on this, however, we at neoci have a few ideas of what has worked for some of our clients.

Firstly, the compensation needs to be right. It seems pretty obvious to most, but it is surprising how many companies kid themselves into thinking their salary and commission packages are competitive, when they’re not. Get this bit right and you’ve got a much better chance. Most sales hunters are driven by money – offering double OTE that isn’t realistic won’t wash.

Consider training people if you have time. Hiring on personality and attitude or will over skill, puts you in good stead when building a successful team.

Finally, do you actually need someone with industry experience? True sales ‘hunters’ will perform regardless of what they are selling. Products and technologies can be learned… sales ability, not so much..

Neoci are specialists in recruiting into tech and telco, for further details visit


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