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Promoting Diversity On Your Sales Team | #NESDiversity

#NESDiversity | As a professional recruiter I have seen a lot of things change over the last 30 years when it comes to hiring new salespeople. Creating a diverse sales team is a topic of discussion in nearly every boardroom across America as 21st century corporations are looking to include top talent from all over. Keep reading to learn how to do that...

If you have been a hiring manager or a part of the decision-making process for any length of time, take a moment and look around at the members of the sales team that you hired. Do they have anything in common? More specifically, do they have anything in common with you? If you are like most other human beings in the world, the answer is probably yes. You see, it’s natural to hire people that are most similar to you.

Often, managers don’t do it on purpose. We all tend to pick people most like us, because people that are different make us uncomfortable. They challenge our norms and values. There certainly are managers who maliciously don’t hire those with differences, but as we move into a culture of stronger diversity those individuals are fewer and fewer. In fact, many corporations realize that diverse sales teams have higher success rates than homogenous ones. However, open acceptance of diversity and inclusion in the workplace is not the biggest hurdle to overcome. Many sales managers simply don’t know where to find individuals that aren’t already in their professional circles.

Here are three ways to recruit diverse talent.

1. Don’t recruit from within.

This might seem like a no-brainer, but this happens all the time. You ask your top salesperson if they know anyone looking to make a career move and they give you a list of names. Typically, that list is one filled with individuals that are exactly like the guy who gave you the list. This doesn’t do much for diversity. Most people land their jobs through networking, but what about people that have traditionally been excluded from top positions? Do they have an effective network? They might not. There is a ton of untapped talent out there that you know nothing about. So look outside of your traditional networks. Don’t ask anyone you know for names. Contact local community groups that you typically have little interaction with to see if they can point you in the right direction. Talk to universities and ask for contact information of student groups populated by traditionally underrepresented individuals.

2. Start an internship program.

One way to promote diversity is to find people with great potential and hire them while in college. This gives you a chance to groom them for success, and provides them with skills they might not otherwise learn in a traditional college atmosphere. In an internship program, underrepresented groups can get the inside track and in turn have the upper hand when they compete for permanent positions. A well structured program can provide participants with the cultural capital they need to compete.

3. Use non-traditional methods.

Think outside the box. If you keep finding the same kinds of recruits, you’re probably not looking in the right places. Instead of publishing an ad in the New York Times, put one in an ethnic or LGBT community newspaper instead. Look for local events that promote diversity as a specific objective and attend. Or, publish a blog article about sales team diversity and promote it on social media. These tactics will likely draw in a different pool of recruits than normal.

A diverse team is a stronger team, and at the end of the day that is very good for business.

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