Eastside firms are on a hiring binge, and programmers and engineers aren’t the only ones in demand. Companies in all industries are seeking more salespeople as the economy improves, and it can be challenging to get workers quickly enough. With several high-profile clients such as Verizon, State Farm, and Comcast, Issaquah-based Time to Hire specializes in quick salespeople hires. Below, CEO Chad Bronstein examines the world of sales.

1. What are the current trends in sales hiring? 

There seems to be an overall increase in economic confidence that is causing people to hire more sales staff. Our customers’ revenue has risen about 25 percent over the previous year. As the economy continues to get better and confidence increases, employers will look to hire more salespeople in anticipation of better economic conditions. We’ve seen this type of growth activity in most of the major vertical markets we deal in, particularly door-to-door and home-improvement sales.

2. What makes hiring qualified commission-only applicants so difficult?

Hiring qualified commission-only applicants is difficult for a number of reasons. There are basically three types of people who will take a commission-only position. The first is proven superstar salespeople who can sell anything and will easily land on their feet almost anywhere they end up. The problem is that the vast majority of superstars are already working for someone else. Another type is someone who may be having trouble finding work in their chosen field and is therefore more likely to take a risk on a commission-based position. The third type would be a younger person that’s just out of school. Because superstars are rare, the qualified pool of candidates can be very small, and the onus is on employers to have a good process in place for hiring new sales reps. Employers need to set up intensive training programs that will quickly give the new rep a leg up and help ensure their success.

AskAbouttheExpert3. How can employers improve their recruiting efforts? 

A. Practice their pitch carefully. Candidates must be sold on the position without realizing they are being sold. If you come on too strong, it will push the candidate away.

B. Be committed to constant improvement of show rate, which is the percentage of candidates who actually show up for the interview. This is generally where the most improvement is needed. Most recruiters will be lucky to have a show rate of 20-40 percent. Really good recruiters with years of experience can achieve a 60 percent show rate for even the most difficult of jobs such as insurance and pest-control sales. One tactic is to promise the candidate that if the job is not a good fit, you will do your best to find another company that might fit better, and actually partner with other sales organizations for this reason.

C. Systematize the sales process. Don’t expect sales reps to create their own sales process or plan for your company. It’s up to you to plan and execute it. Understand that it is hard to hire sales people if you don’t understand your own sales process. That means you have to put your process into action and prove that it works before training others.

D. Learn how to avoid shooting from the hip when hiring. It’s easy to make mistakes such as hiring people you like or having a candidate sell you on themselves. Read books on the subject. Create your own hiring process that includes a scoring system.

E. Create a training environment. Have at least two group training sessions each week. Turn high-performing sales reps into sales managers, then have the managers perform most of the training sessions. Have new reps ride along with more experienced staff so they can see how to pitch in real time. Provide a phone room if possible so reps can hone their cold-calling skills and customer phone interactions. Put new sales reps that show promise next to high-performing sales reps so they can learn from the best.

F. Understand that as the owner, you must lead by example. Sales is a process, and you are not born with the skill. You must become an expert on the sales process by reading books and blogs, and by spending time in the field honing your pitch.

G. Hire as many sales reps as you can handle. Most won’t make it, and you’ll need a steady stream of reps coming through the door to be successful.