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3 Medical Sales Recruiting Tips to Avoid the Candidate Experience Trap

Medical sales recruiting is no easy task. You have the overwhelming responsibility of identifying, sourcing, and recruiting people who are the lifeblood of the company. When you’re successful, the company’s overall bottom line is successful. 

So, of course, you’re looking for the most talented salespeople. Oftentimes, talent is measured by experience. In medical sales recruiting especially, the more years of direct experience selling a product, the better. 

Unfortunately, this is one of the top recruitment misconceptions. In fact, a Harvard Business Review study found that 82% of sampled job ads either required or stated a strong preference for experience. HBR’s analysis, however, does not support the assumption that “applicants with more experience will be better or longer-tenured employees than those with less.” 

While years of experience are easy to measure, they don’t accurately assess whether or not a candidate will succeed in a new sales role. Falling into the “experience trap” could result in losing highly-qualified candidates who possess other critical medical sales skills and traits. 

To keep you out of the trap and on top of your medical sales recruiting game, we’re sharing what you should focus on instead of experience: 

Customer-centric soft skills

The key to success in any sales role is connecting with a customer to close deals. It’s possible a sales rep could have 10 years of direct experience, but not possess the soft skills to connect with your clients. 

LinkedIn’s Global Talent Trends 2019 report revealed that the vast majority of employers recognize the impact of soft skills. In fact, 92% say soft skills matter as much as hard skills, and 80% believe soft skills are increasingly important to company success. In a customer-centric role, like sales, this couldn’t be truer. 

Unfortunately, many recruiters still struggle to assess soft skills — only 41% of LinkedIn’s respondents have a formal process in place. Start by standardizing your recruitment process. Ask candidates the same behavioral and situational interview questions to make reviewing and comparing more accurate. 

Then, bring candidates in for job auditions to meet the team and ride along on a sales call. This gives you the opportunity to see their soft skills in action as they connect — or don’t — with current customers. 

Proof of success

All those years of experience don’t equate to success. A candidate may have worked for a company with lower expectations or even job-hopped when they became uncomfortable with increasing goals. 

Allow candidates to showcase their achievements in sales and sales-like roles. Even if their experience isn’t directly related to the position’s product, their ability to continually hit goals, build relationships with similar customers, and earn accolades are true indicators of success.

Inquire about these types of success stories during interviews to determine if the opening and company align with the candidates’ needs. For example, were their previous jobs internal or external sales roles? How involved was their sales manager? Did they like collaborating with team members or prefer working alone? What tools were accessible to them? 

Each of these questions provides a clearer picture of what led to their prior accomplishments and if they’ll find comparable success at a new company. 

Signs of growth

Sales reps are constantly moving — literally. However, some experience more forward motion in their personal and professional development than others. 

A candidate’s background or climb up the ladder may not equate to growth in skills, sales methods, or continuous learning. There are various factors, including relationships with company leaders, that could have greatly impacted their careers. 

Seek out sales reps who are continually growing in their roles. Those who take courses to learn new skills or who find mentors to acquire updated sales methods are more likely to quickly adapt to a new environment and product than those who only show years of experience.