At times, it can seem like we face more questions than answers during this historic pandemic.
Some sales leaders are wondering specifically about their hiring strategies right now. They see constriction across the economy (the airline, food, retail, and hotel industries have been among the hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic), and they want to know if they should institute hiring freezes “until things settle down.”
Should You Consider a Hiring Freeze for Your Sales Team?
In my peak performance mindset training sessions, I often talk about the effects of fear. Typically fear causes humans to react in one of three ways: fight, flight, or freeze.
“Freezing” is a form of constriction – and markets can act just like our emotions.
While shelter-in-place orders have made it necessary for some companies to freeze in place, sales leaders should weigh their hiring decisions in a rational light and operate based on facts, not fear. Because even as growth has slowed or (in some cases) come to a temporary halt, pockets of opportunity exist.
That’s why I strongly encourage sales leaders to actively continue to search for top talent rather than hitting the pause button on hiring. Personally I believe this is an ideal time for many sales leaders to lay the groundwork to build a strong, top performing sales team. (And it should go without saying that, unless absolutely necessary, sales is the last place you want to make cuts; companies will need full sales funnels and pipelines to hit the ground running as pandemic-related restrictions are lifted and the economy picks up again.) 
The savvy sales leaders I work with are taking steps now to hire A players. If we take a step back, we can see at least two compelling facts to support that approach.
#1: Companies that employ top sales performers have the best possible chance of dominating in a tough marketplace.
Pandemic or not, employees are always a strong differentiating factor between companies that thrive in the market and those that don’t. This is why amazing leaders like Richard Branson believe an ,investment in your employees is among the smartest decisions you can make.
It’s also why the best sales leaders are always on the lookout for top talent. Teams that have more A players than their C counterparts tend to bring in more revenue – and A players tend to attract other A players, which establishes an organic cycle of success.
#2: More top talent is available.
For the past 24 months, we’ve been in a candidate-driven market. Unemployment rates have hovered around three percent. That means landing the ideal sales candidate everyone wants to hire has been an uphill climb. Companies have had to bend over backward to offer attractive packages and incentives.
The pandemic has shaken up the job market. More top performers are actively seeking employment, and companies can now hire candidates at market rates rather than paying above-market rates (as they’ve been doing) .
In addition to thinking exploring new job opportunities, candidates are also rethinking what they value in a job offer. For example, several of our candidates are now embracing work from home (WFH) sales roles rather than roles that are strictly office-based. So it could be you don’t have to jump through as many hoops to communicate your unique value as an employer to potential new hires.
Quick Tips for Hiring Sales Candidates in a Pandemic
The bottom line is, this could very well be your ideal moment to find the right sales talent who will help you succeed in the months and years to come. Here are a few other sales hiring tips to keep in mind.
● Keep all your initial hiring steps in place. All our clients conduct interviews with sales candidates virtually using tools like SparkHire and Zoom. It should be easy to continue with the early stages of your sales hiring process.
● It’s okay to delay the start date. If your company requires in-person interactions to onboard new candidates, it’s absolutely okay to push your start date into the summer or fall. This will not hurt your ability to attract top talent; most candidates are willing to work with companies that need a flexible start date until the landscape of business operations shifts to a more typical state.
● Act before your competition does. A number of our clients are already increasing their hiring goals due to unexpected growth in their market. If you delay your hiring process, you competitors may snap up the best sales candidates before you get a chance to court them.
As a sales leader, your company is relying on you not to give in to fear right now. While certain parts of the market have halted or constricted severely, that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to follow suit. On the contrary, your team and your customers need you to maintain your peak performance mindset more than ever.
Yes, the pandemic has brought many serious (and sometimes scary) challenges. But every crisis presents an opportunity, especially for leaders. Make some smart moves now with your hiring strategy, and you’ll set up your team for much greater success down the line.