What Is Best for Hiring: DIY or Engage a Recruiting Service?

by Adele Crane

You’re an SME, and it’s time to hire a new staff member, so what are your options. You can use your network and contacts or advertise for job seekers on your own, or is it best to engage a recruiting service?

Here’s what you need to consider about each approach.


One of the challenges for small to medium businesses is finding the right sales talent to join their company. Startups and small companies need reliable, talented employees and will help grow the business. In addition, they need people that will bring their ambition and energy.

Let’s look more closely at the challenges SME businesses face when filling sales positions and what to expect when working with a recruiting service or hiring sales staff yourself.

Challenges when hiring

Depending on your industry, you may face fierce competition from other companies for the best talent, especially from larger organisations. In competitive industries like healthcare, information technology, and engineering it can be hard to find candidates.

If you are filling a specialised sales position or are in a competitive industry, the process of winning over a promising candidate can be daunting. You are faced with larger competitors offering jobs with higher starting salaries, a host of benefits, and more upward mobility.

Finding candidates can be challenging in an industry where qualified talent is scarce, particularly when you do it yourself. It is not about getting just any person in the role, particularly someone who does the bare minimum. You may find yourself reading dozens of resumes and scheduling time to conduct interviews.

Reviewing and interviewing candidates for a position can take up a lot of your time. In addition, if you’re not experienced in hiring salespeople, you could end up with someone who doesn’t live up to their application.

Engaging a recruiting service

There are literally hundreds of recruiter agencies and services out there you can engage to find the right person for your vacancy. Professional recruitment services eliminate to some degree the time-consuming challenge of finding the right candidates for the job.

Recruiting services provide some advantages to SME companies looking to hire. Firstly, the obvious timesaving aspect for you and your management team if you do not have in-house HR. You can focus on your core business while leaving finding candidates to a recruitment professional.

Connecting with the best sales talent is a full-time job. Most companies leave hiring to the last minute and have a degree of urgency when they contact recruiters. They may have exhausted their own efforts to hire or are having people decline their offers. SME businesses need to decide from the outset whether they will use a recruiter or go DIY. It can have a huge impact on the hiring timeline.

Having experienced sales recruiters dedicated to finding the right candidate can assist in keeping you unbiased in your selection criteria. In addition, it allows you to select the best candidate for the role rather than settling for mediocre.

Engaging sales recruiters can also be advantageous when you are new to a different state or opening a new region. Your network may only extend to your current geographic area, so a sales recruiting service with local knowledge may streamline the recruitment process for you.

Recruiting services go beyond posting job ads on websites. They network and seek out the specialised sales talent, sparking interest in individuals who are already employed but open to a change. The agency sells your company to these interested candidates and convinces them their talents would be more appreciated and rewarded at your company.

How to choose a sales recruitment agency

If you decide that hiring a sales recruiter is best for your company, you will need to ensure that your chosen agency is a good fit. Here are four tips to assist you in selecting the right service provider.

1. Research, Research Research

Many promises are made with so many recruiters in the market, but will they deliver what you need? The recruitment industry is renowned for the churn in its own industry, and often young inexperienced people are put on your case. When evaluating an agency, research them as you would any job candidate.

2. Interview agencies like candidates

Interviewing agencies is important and make sure you are not passed down to a junior recruiter. Check the companies and the individuals experience, their understanding of your specific role and talk to others they have provided placement services for in the past.

Ask the recruiter about their reviewing process. How do they find and evaluate candidates? What can you expect from them about updates of their progress? How long would it take to fill a position?

3. Check their expertise and track record

Extensive relevant expertise and a good track record are indicators that your potential partnership may be successful. A sales recruiter with a good network, a sound understanding of sales requirements, and a large database are more likely to assist you to find the right candidate.

4. Provide a clear briefing

As an employer, you must have a good position description to assist in briefing the agency. You need to establish the minimum criteria you would accept for the candidate and be specific. Don’t just say intermediate experience in CRM. State the CRM you use and the level of engagement you require with the system. A good sales recruiter will take notes and send only qualified candidates your way. Explain your company culture and the type of person that will fit best in your business.

DIY Hiring

Professional sales recruitment services can assist you in finding great talent, but the reality is that they can be costly. Their fees are usually a percentage ranging from 10-20 per cent of the salary on offer. This can definitely scale depending on the role you are filling.

DIY hiring is far from impossible, and there are several approaches to assist you in finding good candidates. It is certainly more cost-effective for some companies.

1. Build a pipeline of candidates, in advance

Be proactive and do not leave it until vacancies happen. In sales, turnover is part of the management of teams. You need to build a pipeline of potential candidates by marketing your company on the right job boards and your website.

2. Be patient and realistic

You won’t find your ideal candidate overnight. Establish a timetable allowing yourself plenty of time to take in and seek applications. Last-minute hires are often poor hires.

If you’re an SME company, finding a top candidate who can do it all for the salary you offer may not be realistic. Balance out the type of person you want with the pay you can afford. Temper expectations, especially if you’re in a competitive industry.

3. Streamline your process

Make it easy for candidates to apply and have a well thought out hiring process. On receiving an application, test it against your minimum hiring criteria. If the person fits this initial test, telephone them for a conversation about what they are looking for. Don’t sell your company; find out what they want first.

If that conversation goes well, invite them in for an interview. Have your questions ready and if others are attending, ensure everyone knows the role they play in the interview process.

Make applying easy, and gather the information you need to make an informed decision.

4. Use technology

Many job boards are available, but a dedicated sales job board is your best place to market your company and the role on offer.

You may also want to dedicate a page of your website to a careers section of your company. This can act as a landing page to direct interested candidates to job boards, social media and other sources.