I recently posted this question on LinkedIn:

Sales Managers: What do you do when your HR group isn't able to identify the hunters you need?

With the incredible costs due to unfilled positions (customers going with the competition, RFPs not completed and generally missed sales opportunities), what do you (the sales manager) do to help HR see the need to use an outside source? I have 2 managers right now with open jobs, no real candidates in the pipeline and HR says that they want to fill the job internally.

I got some really great answers from sales managers, business owners, recruiters, and HR people from around the country, and I thought the gist of the discussion was worth posting here for you.

The general consensus seems to be that HR departments are difficult to work with on a candidate search because (1) there are often corporate politics coming into play, (2) HR doesn't have the expertise to handle finding specialized sales professionals, and (3) HR doesn't understand the true cost of a vacant position (and might not be all that interested). Especially if HR is working with a limited budget, they're not going to be interested in using an outside recruiting source-because they don't grasp the true cost of a vacant position to the company as a whole. So, they should stick to the onboarding portion of bringing in a new candidate.

More than a few say that sales managers should just bypass HR entirely-because sales and marketing departments are much more equipped to recruit than HR departments, much more versed in what it is that they need in a new sales rep, and should already have an extensive network of sales reps to mine for their needs. (In some cases, these were also their arguments for not using a third-party recruiter.) Most importantly, if the sales manager is going to be held responsible for making the numbers, he or she shouldn't have to rely on another department to that extent for their team's success.

My position is, of course, that sales managers make much more productive use of their time by working with the team they have in place to make the sales, and leaving the candidate search to a recruiter. The more money a manager generates in a normal cycle, the more it costs to use that time finding a new sales rep. And if recruiting isn't your business, you're almost never going to have access to the kind of candidate pool a recruiter has, no matter how extensive your professional network is-which means you'll be missing out on some very high-caliber talent. If the sales manager (or the HR department) has to run ads to find talent, that becomes a costly gamble which can easily bring you no results from your efforts. A good recruiting team saves time and money, while increasing productivity and sales force effectiveness.

Author's Bio: 

Peggy McKee is the CEO of PHC Consulting, an executive search firm that specializes in finding top sales, sales management, technical support and marketing talent for the medical and healthcare industries. We specialize in laboratory, medical device, healthcare IT, health care and hospital administration, and health care supply. Our clients include companies that are on the Fortune 5, 50, and 500 list, as well as Fortune 100 Fastest-Growing companies. Our clients' call points are the pharmacy, hospital administration, laboratory (both clinical and research), and the physician or surgeon. Our clients say that we provide the most pre-screened, pre-qualified candidates and talent that they receive. They love our follow-up, and they love the fact that we listen to what they truly need, and identify and exceed their goals in the candidate search. Our candidates say that we listen to what they are looking for in a career--that we help them find the best positions that are truly a long-term fit, and that we help make a stressful job search a little easier. See our website at => http://www.phcconsulting.com.