Hiring with or without industry sales experience.

What’s better? hiring a salesperson with or without industry experience? 

Hiring the right salesperson is crucial for the success of any business. But when it comes to choosing between a candidate with industry experience or without, it can be challenging to determine which option is best. In this blog post, I’ll explore the pros and cons of both options and provide recommendations on how to determine what is best for your company.

Hiring a Salesperson with Industry Experience

Pros

Familiarity with the Industry
A salesperson with industry experience has a good understanding of the market, competition, and trends, which can help them hit the ground running. They can quickly build relationships with clients and prospects, understand their pain points, and offer solutions that are tailored to their needs.

Established Network
Experienced salespeople have an established network of contacts in the industry. They may have worked with key players in the industry, such as suppliers, distributors, or manufacturers, and have valuable connections that can help them close deals faster.

Reduced Training Time
Experienced salespeople may require less training than someone without experience. They may already understand the products and services that you offer, as well as the customer base you are targeting. As a result, they can be more productive sooner.

Cons

Resistance to Change
Experienced salespeople may be set in their ways and resistant to change. They may have developed habits or approaches that are no longer effective and may not be open to new ideas or strategies. This can hinder innovation and growth.

Preconceived Notions
Salespeople with industry experience may bring preconceived notions about your company or your products that could be limiting. They may already have an opinion about your brand, and this can be challenging to overcome.

Compensation Expectations
Experienced salespeople may have expectations about their compensation package that may be out of line with your budget. They may expect to be compensated more than someone without experience, and this can be a challenge if you are operating on a tight budget.

Hiring a Salesperson without Industry Experience

Pros

Fresh Perspectives
Hiring a salesperson without industry experience can bring fresh perspectives and new ideas to your sales team. They may not have the same level of knowledge or experience in the industry, but they can bring a different skill set, such as a strong work ethic, enthusiasm, and the ability to learn quickly.

Willingness to Learn
A salesperson without industry experience may be more open to learning and adapting to new strategies and approaches. They are not set in their ways and are more likely to embrace change and be open to new ideas.

Moldable to Company Culture
When you hire someone without industry experience, you can mold them to fit your company culture and sales process. They will not have any preconceived notions about your company or your products, which can be beneficial in creating a fresh perspective.

Cons

Longer Ramp-up Time
Hiring a salesperson without industry experience can take longer for them to get up to speed. They will need to learn the industry, the market, the competition, and the products or services you offer. This can be time-consuming and costly and may result in slower sales performance in the short term.

Limited Network
A salesperson without industry experience may not have an established network of contacts in the industry, which can hinder their ability to close deals quickly.

Uncertainty
When you hire someone without industry experience, there is a level of uncertainty. You are not sure if they will be able to adapt to the industry and be successful.

How to Determine What is Best for Your Company

Analyze Your Sales Needs
The first step is to analyze your sales needs. Consider the type of products or services you offer, the industry you operate in, and the target market. Determine what skills and experience are needed to effectively sell your products or services.

Define Your Sales Goals
Before deciding whether to hire a salesperson with or without industry experience, you need to define your sales goals. Determine what you want your sales team to accomplish.

Evaluate Your Sales Team
Take a close look at your current sales team. Consider their strengths and weaknesses, the level of experience they bring, and their knowledge of the industry. What background your top performers have before joining. Determine whether your team is lacking certain skills or if there are gaps that need to be filled.

Define Your Company Culture
Your company culture plays a crucial role in determining whether to hire a salesperson with or without industry experience. Determine what values and behaviors are important to your company, and whether the candidate’s experience aligns with those values.

Consider the Job Requirements
Evaluate the job requirements carefully. Determine whether industry experience is an essential requirement for the job. If the job requires specific technical knowledge, experience in the industry may be essential. However, if the job requires soft skills such as communication and relationship building, a candidate without industry experience may be more suitable.

Look for Transferable Skills
Consider the transferable skills that the candidate brings to the table. Look for skills such as a strong work ethic, adaptability, and a willingness to learn. These skills can be valuable in any industry and may compensate for the lack of industry experience.

Evaluate the Candidate’s Learning Ability
Determine whether the candidate can learn quickly and adapt to new situations. Look for candidates who are willing to ask questions and seek feedback, and who show a willingness to learn.

Conduct Interviews
Conduct interviews with candidates to determine whether they have the necessary skills and experience to be successful in the role. Ask questions that allow you to evaluate their industry knowledge, soft skills, and their ability to learn and adapt.

Conclusion
It can be a difficult decision, but by analyzing your sales needs, evaluating your sales team, defining your company culture, considering the job requirements, looking for transferable skills, evaluating the candidate’s learning ability, and conducting interviews, you can determine whether your company should hire a salesperson with or without industry experience. 

My recommendation is to interview candidates with both industry and non-industry experience, unless having industry experience is a “must have” requirement. It increases the potential candidate pool and helps give more clarity to your final decision. 

At the end of the day, it ultimately comes down to the specific needs of your company, so take the time to carefully consider your options before making a final decision.
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Author: Bryan Payne is Chief Talent Scout and Founding Partner at Just Sales Jobs, a recruitment agency specializing in finding top sales talent in Toronto and surrounding areas. He has over 25 years of experience in sales recruiting and leading successful sales teams. You can contact him at 

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