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Why the little black book approach simply doesn’t work...

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  • Jonathan heads up the IT recruitment division at Genesis. He focuses on IT re-seller services and cyber-security software.

Is VAR Sales recruitment dead?


For just over 7 years I have recruited in the VAR sales market and have worked with the biggest of clients right down to some of the smallest but typically they all have one thing in common when it comes to recruiting. They all want people from a direct competitor with a black book of contacts and with the expectation to ‘move accounts’ with them.

This obviously presents positives in the form of a quick win if the accounts actually move, but does it not arguably present a longer list of negatives and make it much more difficult to bring decent people into the business with the right motivations?


Will the accounts actually move? 

IT VAR’s are getting smarter at tying in clients to contracts and, from speaking with people in the industry, the ability to move accounts is becoming harder and harder. Their current IT provider wants the sales person to wrap customers into services and more contractual business, making it less attractive for customers to move supplier unless there is a significant difference for them to move like price, for example.



Do job seekers feel ‘valued’ by the new potential employers?

When we have had people interview with potential employers, sometimes the feedback has been “all they seemed to care about is my black book of contacts.” Now typically the potential employee is not naïve to the fact that this will be an expectation to do this but to have that as the focus and have no interest shown in the actual person has caused many people to be put off enough to take themselves out of process with that client. Wanting an employer to show more interest in them as an individual doesn’t make them a lesser sales person and a focus on bringing accounts can really have an impact on securing a very good sales person. 


Not getting new people in for the right reasons that fit into a long-term plan?

In sales, most people will agree that a quick win is great but I think, when asked, everyone would prefer a longer, more sustained period of success in the place of a one-off quick win. If people are brought in with the expectation from the off that they will bring accounts and start delivering from those, how loyal are they going to be when the next VAR comes along and offers even more basic and maybe shows more loyalty towards the sales person rather than the accounts they can bring?


Let's also not forget restrictive covenants….. All sales people will be bound by this in one way or another!

Hiring in any industry can be difficult and also risky especially when there are hefty basic salaries floating around but can you really risk a potential hire on ‘what accounts they can bring in the first 3 months’ rather than hiring them for their historic wins and successes with hope they can replicate that again for you?

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