The Sales Development Blog

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Want Top Sales Talent? Pick Up the Phone!

November saw 321,000 new jobs created – well above the monthly average of 224,000 over the last 12 months. In addition, this marked the tenth straight month that employment increased by more than 200,000 jobs – a feat we haven’t seen since 1999.

Unemployment is now down to 5.8 percent and an even more astounding number is that unemployment for college graduates is at 3.2 percentFull employment, defined as the condition in which virtually all who are able and willing to work are employed, is considered roughly 4 percent.

There are more jobs in the market than college graduates able and willing to work. Needless to say, it’s a candidate driven market.

With this being the case, recruiters and sales managers are asking themselves, “Where do I find top candidates?”

If you want to find top sales talent you’re going to have to target candidates that are employed, because the best talent isn’t sitting still waiting for a phone call. Strong candidates are either employed or when they’re unemployed, they have options.

Given these market conditions, memoryBlue Search – the third party search practice that I oversee – decided to run an experiment to test our reputation for having quality inside sales people. A few weeks ago, I announced to our 66 person staff, we would be starting a “Bounty Program”.

The program, simply, was to incentivize our employees to forward us (at their discretion) any and all LinkedIn In-Mails and emails that they received regarding career opportunities. The idea behind the program was to provide our Search Practice with both deal flow and real-time visibility into the market for high-tech inside sales professionals in the DC Metro area. At all times, we want to know which companies are hiring and who has interest in the inside sales talent we’re actively developing.

Easy enough, right?

Well, our team stepped up to the challenge. Over a six week time period from early July to late August our inside salespeople received 186 In-Mail messages or emails from 67 different recruiters/companies and a litany from third party firms. The recruiting efforts have come from industries such as software, staffing, IT and a slew of others.

Well, here’s the problem – 186 messages were sent out and only five recruiting phone calls were made. In an industry where people are working from their phones all day long, it is crazy that hardly anyone tried reaching out via the phone.

Source of Recruiter Outreaches to memoryBlue Employees


Looking at this data, you might think that calling candidates has fallen out of favor. You’d be right. But is calling effective?

It’s a lot easier to influence and persuade someone if you’re talking with that person.   So, how effective were the phone calls in producing conversations?

Let’s take a look at the data.

Five phone calls were made and three voicemails were left. Two different recruiters called two sales reps (three calls, two voicemails to one rep and two calls, one voicemail to the other).  Both of those recruiters got our sales people on the phone. That’s a 100% hit rate from using the phone. Obviously that won’t always be the case, but it is astonishing that out of 191 outbound reaches, only 2.6 percent were phone calls.

The phone is not a dead tool. It’s one you absolutely must use.

Great, so the phone works to generate conversations. But how useful are those conversations?

Again, let’s turn to the numbers and analyze the deals closed this year by my search practice.

Source of memoryBlue Search Placements

For optimum market coverage, leverage referrals, make cold calls with supporting emails, and network at industry events.

Cold calling is the second strongest source for closed deals and is the biggest contributor to the top source (referrals).

Should you stop using cold InMails/Emails?

Absolutely not. Instead, you should use Inmails/Emails in conjunction with your calls as part of a multi-touch approach. For instance, send out an InMail or email and follow up it up with a phone call. A couple days later, respond to the InMail or email and follow it up with another phone call.

When you rely solely on InMails/Emails, you just don’t get the attention of the high quality candidates that you want to work with and that sales departments want on their teams. did the research, you just have to follow it. Their best practice for sales, suggests that after six phone calls your chance of connecting with the person you’re calling jumps up to 90 percent.

Best Practice for Recruiting Top Sales Talent


This research also suggests that most people give up too soon. Looking at the results from my Bounty Program, nearly every recruiter that contacted memoryBlue employees gave up after Z-E-R-O calls!

When 97.4 percent of attempts aren’t phone calls to prospective recruits, there’s significant opportunity for the recruiters who do run their desks like the top sales professionals they’re trying to recruit.

Open to hearing ideas on how to identify, attract, and land top talent for your inside sales team? Pick up the phone and give me a call!

Director of Search Justin Brown oversees memoryBlue’s external sales recruiting service. In addition, Justin serves on the AA-ISP (American Association of Inside Sales Professionals) DC Chapter’s Leadership Board. Prior to building out memoryBlue Search, Justin started at memoryBlue where he consecutively hit his monthly goal and was quickly elevated to his previous position as a Delivery Manager.

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