Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Secure the Top Talent in Sales and Business Development

Among the Singapore jobs vacancies, spots for sales agents in particular are proving harder and harder to fill, as the war for talent reaches boiling point. People with sales experience and business development skills in information technology (IT), fast moving consumer goods (FMCG), life sciences and banking are highly sought after by employers looking to boost profits and maintain a competitive edge.

In line with broader labour market trends, mobility in sales and business development roles is high. A general employee lifecycle is between 18 and 24 months. For generation Y, it can be as short as 12, or even 6 months. Hence, one of the biggest challenges that employers of sales and business development professionals face is talent attraction and retention.

Here are some tips to help ensure employers can secure the best talent.

1. Acknowledge the talent shortage
Some senior managers maintain the perception that there are many jobseekers to choose from and it is an employers’ market. However, with 1.9 percent unemployment in Singapore, this is not the case. For some companies, sales and business development roles can remain vacant for up to six months. Once this is realised, the need to have a tailored talent attraction and retention strategy in place becomes obvious.

2. Focus on the key skills
In this talent-tight market, employers must keep an open mind when considering new hires for the company. Look deeper into the experience of a candidate, rather than rejecting them straight away because they do not match all of the required skills sets. Industry experience and inititiative play a big part. Also, while some candidates might not have years of experience, they might be enthusiastic and willing to learn. Once they are given the opportunity to learn and grow, they will succeed in their roles fast.

The most successful sales professionals usually possess a positive “can-do” attitude and well-versed communication skills. This means that they listen to customers closely, provide the right solutions, and are able to articulate the benefits of the products to the customers. They also need to have a high level of energy and be able to think strategically. If a jobseeker does not have relevant experience, but has these qualities, he might just be the next sales star.

3. Act fast
Interviews and approval procedures can take time. It’s important to bear in mind that if you take a while to get back to a good candidate, you run the risk that they might have accepted another offer and moved on. The lesson is: once you identify a talented individual, act fast and secure them immediately.

4. Nurture the talent you have
Once a new member joins the team, it is important for employers to bring them up to speed as soon as possible. Give them clear targets and strategies, and let them know the expectations from the onset. It will be good to give them break-down targets in first, third and sixth months and reward them once they meet these targets. This helps to keep them motivated and engaged.

Jobseekers in Singapore do not only focus on a competitive remuneration package, but also the training and career advancement opportunities provided. Business leaders need to think strategically and make sure they attract and retain the best talent to propel their business forward.

Secure the Top Talent in Sales and Business Development Article by: Richard Farmer, Director of Professionals, Randstad