Should You Be Looking for Sales Pros from Other Industries?  5 Reasons it May Be in Your Best Interest

businesss and office concept - two businessmen shaking hands inBy: Andy Wright

When searching for top sales talent, it can make a critical difference to think outside the box. That’s why hiring managers should not only mine their own business and industry for talent that’s worth promoting, but to also make sure that they (or their sales recruiting company partner) seek out sales pros from different industries who can meaningfully add to the value and performance of the company.

Let’s take a look at a few key reasons why outside sales hires from alternate industries sometimes makes the most sense when searching for the best sales talent.

  • Pure Talent vs. Technical Knowhow

Hiring a salesperson within your industry may seem like a good bet: existing knowledge, less training required (maybe), and what seems like a sensible choice. But a track record of sales success is a much better indicator of achievement than rote technical proficiency. Look for salespeople who lead their industry and chances are they’ll be able to translate that success at your company, too.

  • A Diversified Book of Business

Hiring a sales rep who sells a different product or service than your company—but to the same or similar customers—is an excellent way of hiring outside your industry. Not only do you land a sales pro who has a solid sales track record, but one who also has a strong book of business/database of contacts that can boost your business.

  • Positive Perception

A company that hires outside their industry shows a creativity and foresight that some of the most exciting companies swear by, including tech giants like Google and Facebook. Attracting top sales talent from other industries is all about signaling a forward-thinking, modern perspective that fosters talent wherever it’s derived.

  • A Fresh Set of Eyes

Sometimes it takes an outsider to recognize inefficiency or spearhead positive change. When hiring managers seek sales talent in outside industries, they are bringing in far more than a top-performer—they’re also getting a fresh set of eyes that can offer an innovative perspective.

  • Far Fewer Limits

Though the frequent hope is that new hires from the same field might bring clients and customers with them, the legal minefield of non-compete agreements and customer block out times could hinder these types of hires. By looking outside your industry for capable sales talent, you are saving valuable time and effort in cultivating candidates who won’t bring legal woes with them.

Although there are clear benefits to hiring sales professionals from other industries, it’s imperative that only companies with a strong onboarding/training program opt to go this route.  Before hiring sales reps from outside industries, take the time to evaluate the effectiveness and efficiency of your in-house training program in order to understand if an outside hire is right for your company. When in doubt, rely on your trusted sales recruiting company partner to help you determine your best pool of candidates.

Andy Wright is the owner and an active recruiter at Grapevine – Targeted Sales Recruiting. 

Andy began his recruiting career in 2003, and has a proven track record of helping companies both large and small increase sales team retention and productivity through recruiting top talent.  Prior to launching Grapevine in December of 2011, Andy held key leadership positions for two Twin Cities-based search firms, training and managing teams of recruiters while developing new business and managing national account relationships. Visit, call 952.856.2371 or