Hiring a new salesperson is a big chore. Most of the time, you have to put other obligations on hold until the hiring process is complete. And no matter how hard you look for someone suitable, quality candidates are few and far between.

Though the days when sales organizations at home improvement companies turned over in a year are gone, and leads are not as plentiful as they were before the recession, companies seeking to expand find that generating more leads and running more appointments—with more salespeople—is the best way to grow. 

Cast the Widest Net

So what’s the most effective way to find quality salespeople? Do you place an ad online? Do you network through business  and personal connections? Do you conduct your own unique scouting expedition? 

“All of the above,” says Bryan Miller, co-owner of Virtus Services, a remodeling and home improvement company in Atlanta. For Virtus, placing online ads has been the most effective way to reach large groups of people, but networking has proven to be the best way to find good candidates.

Some companies avoid running ads because they don’t want to be deluged with sub-par resumes. Grant Mazmanian, president of Pinnacle Group USA in Media, Pa., which specializes in recruiting for home improvement companies, says that writing an ad with highly specific information will solve that problem. “If you write the ad a certain way, you can reduce the resumes from 75 to 8,” he says. 

Social Media and More

Company owners note that the recession put a lid on the migration of salespeople from one company to another. Now that things have picked up, many are looking. Here’s what a few companies and consultants are doing to find them.

Stars in the sky, or online. To augment its salesforce of 75, K-Designers, a siding and window company based in Sacramento, Calif., regularly posts an ad on Craigslist headlined: “Superstars Only Respond.” The company then provides qualified candidates with a list of K-designers salespeople who can discuss the position.
The hed’s the thing. Many companies besides K-Designers recruit via Craigslist. Seven members of the 12-person sales team at Yankee Home Improvement, in Northampton, Mass., were recruited via the site. The trick is getting noticed. One consistently successful ad, for instance, bears the headline: “I’m Mr. Nobody.” The posting goes on to discuss how the company owner came to the U.S. as an Irish immigrant with $80 in his pocket and made $2 million a year for 10 years as a home improvement salesperson.
• Friend me. The Baltimore-based Fick Brothers Roofing & Exterior Remodeling Company found its last three salespeople via Facebook. Vice president of sales Jeffrey Fick posted a job description on the Fick Brothers and on his own personal Facebook page saying, “If you know of anybody interested in a sales position, forward this to them.” The post produced 10 good resumes and the person eventually hired has been with Fick Brothers for two years. 

Yes, indeed. Home improvement sales and marketing consultant Tony Hoty suggests companies regularly check the resumes posted to Indeed, a job search site that, unlike biggies Monster or CareerBuilder, costs business owners nothing to use. Enter the name of a home improvement company in your area and up pops the resumes of those who’ve applied to work there. 

Do's and Dont's

While new ways to find salespeople are constantly cropping up, there are a few essential strategies that can make your search more effective.

• Use multiple sites.
You’ll reach a wider target audience and anyone seriously looking for a new job in sales know that you mean business.
• Make your ad honest, specific, and appealing. “Our ad targets individuals who meet certain criteria and can provide a proven track record of success,” says Miller.
• No surprises. If there are unusual requirements, let candidates know before they show up for an interview. Fick Brothers, for instance, informs applicants that they’ll be required to scale a ladder and get on the roof. 
• Use phone interviews to screen final candidates. Spending 20 minutes on the phone with prospective candidates can quickly tell you whether it’s worth your while to devote one-on-one time at the office with them. 
• Ask for income verification. If you’re looking for seasoned sales professionals who say that they’ve earned fat commissions, the one way to verify their numbers is to require that they show their tax forms from last year and the year before. 
• Make it last. Average companies that suddenly need a salesperson frequently react by going into overdrive. The best companies never stop recruiting. Include a place on your website where visitors can fill out an employment application. That way the next time you want or need a salesperson, you won’t be starting from scratch.