How recruiters can attract and keep sales talent

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Fatima Koning, chief sales officer of Regus parent company IWG, shares the top traits she looks for when recruiting sales teams for the group.


A top-notch sales team is one of the key cogs behind every successful commercial business. Thanks to advances in technology, snagging the best salespeople for your company has changed in recent years enabling recruiters to fish from a much larger pool of talent. Fatima Koning, chief sales officer of Regus parent company IWG, explains what she looks for when recruiting salespeople for the group.

Finding the right sales talent

“As a global company, our approach needs to be adapted to our different markets, and referrals are a key channel for us,” explains Koning. “However, in addition to this we also use career sites, job boards and networking events. We have a brilliant team of people who are focused on approaching people directly through career and network sites.

However, a big disrupter in the new recruiting landscape is that good sales candidates know their worth and will have a say in how (and for how much) they are engaged. “When you work in the business-to-business sector, it can be more challenging to build a reputation as an employer of choice for great talent,” explains Koning. Therefore, the trick is to prove to these candidates that IWG is a worthy company to work for. “We are so lucky with our proposition – once we get people in front of us, we can tell our story and they are hooked,” says Koning.

Fatima Koning, chief sales officer of Regus parent company IWG

Passion and honesty

There are many factors that come into play when recruiting good salespeople, from understanding the product and ethos of the company, to problem-solving and teamwork. “For me, the most important part of the recruitment process is passion and honesty,” explains Koning. “We offer people interesting and varied roles and the chance to progress. I want everyone who joins IWG to be excited about the opportunities in our company and the industry.”

Recruiters now need to have a clear plan in order to access and navigate the vast pool of talent that’s available. For many years, a company’s approach to recruiting was more passive and relied on the good talent applying for the roles advertised. Then along came headhunters who would search the industry and target the best candidates, who may or may not have been searching for a new role.

In sales roles, personality and drive can often carry a person as much, if not more, than qualifications alone. Companies are now hiring on potential and learning ability, rather than solely on experience. “When I’m looking for salespeople, I look for people who love what they do. If you don’t really love sales then you aren’t going to be good at it,” says Fatima. “More than that, I look for people who are enthusiastic, numerical and tenacious.”

The changing face of sales

But sales roles have started to change over the years, with teams moving more towards being consultants and trusted advisors. They’re people who care about delivering a company’s promise and always put the customer first. “Sales covers everything from making sure that the customer experience is exceptional, and the products and solutions are right to ensuring that they’re priced appropriately. In a global organisation, you can’t sell if you don’t have these elements in place,” says Koning.

“In my experience, the most successful sales candidates are the ones who keep surprising me by walking the same path as our clients and assessing the journey from their eyes,” Koning concludes. “But what’s most important is attracting talent that believes in our customer-centric approach and our drive to deliver a ‘great day at work’ to every one of our customers.”


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