10 Things to Look for in an Executive Recruitment Firm

Finding sales and marketing talent is one of the most important and difficult functions for many reasons:


  • Niche Skillsets: Your company may provide a niche product or service that requires unique skills

  • Financial constraints: You may have a financial situation that requires a flexible individual who is willing to be paid in non-standard ways

  • Importance of culture: Ensuring a cultural fit can be hard to gauge and takes time

  • Demanding positions: Certain roles in your organization may require working for a demanding or unique boss, or working in unique job conditions that make hiring more challenging

  • Challenging locations: Certain geographies provide different access to talent than others, creating challenges.  Recruiting in a small talent pool can be as challenging as trying to find good talent in a “hot” market.  

  • Relocation: For certain roles, this can present a challenge, which can be compounded by location.

  • Uncertainty and risk:  Startups have a unique set of risks and often move through several iterations before “finding their sweet spot”.  These create challenges in attracting talent.


Most startups struggle to hire great talent while juggling other business priorities.  


  • Many founders struggle to close business while hiring their first salesperson; both require a lot of time which can quickly eat up a day

  • Onboarding new talent at a startup is more challenging, especially when hiring additional people in the same department

  • Creating sales and marketing processes can be tough, especially when training new hires simultaneously

  • Many new companies are working out their go-to-market plan and hiring at the same time, creating more complexities





Many firms turn to recruiters to lend a hand in hiring when they are too small to hire a dedicated internal recruiting staff.  Larger companies augment internal recruiting teams with outside search firms to find more specific talent, often in remote geographies

It may seem like there are a million recruitment firms in the world, but they are not created equally.  When looking to hire in areas like SaaS, many recruiters don’t have the business knowledge that allows them to serve as a qualified advisor.  It’s important to partner with a firm that has the business and market knowledge to assist in making some of the most important strategic decisions a startup will make.  


How do you determine who to work with?  Below are a few things to look for in a search firm:


Domain Knowledge

If your company sells software, the firm should have an intimate knowledge of what a software company does.  It’s difficult to assess the skills of a Analytics Salesperson if a Recruiter doesn’t know much about the science of analytics.  Look for firms that are led by or employ those that have experience working in your space.



It’s impossible to be knowledgeable in everything and a firm shouldn’t try.  Select a firm with a narrow focus.  This means they’re talking to a large pool of talent that is specializes in your space.  This applies to focusing on your industry, roles you’re looking to fill and company size.  For example, if you’re looking to build a team of Artificial Intelligence sales execs across the country, find a firm that’s worked with these people recently and has relationships across the country with people who have done this for similar sized companies.



Your Recruiter should have experience doing great work for reputable clients.  They should know their function well and be able to talk about their work in a simple and knowledgeable fashion.


Regional Understanding

Regions, states and cities differ across the United States.  Cultures vary.  It is important for a Recruiter to understand these differences and to be able to hire appropriately based on matching candidates and companies correctly.  A good recruiter will be able to offer insight and help maximize your chance for success in a given region.


Emotional Intelligence

Any individual can pull a resume down from LinkedIn, but expert Recruiters understand intangibles that make for great employees.  Great Recruiters have the gift of being able to match people and companies (it’s NOT about matching keywords).  The result is better cultural fits and more successful employees.


Speed and Patience

You want to hire people when you need them and want the right candidates quickly.  A good Recruiter will work fast and remain patient at the same time.  They will work with you until you find the person you need and not sacrifice quality for speed.


Direct and Honest

It seems like everyone says they’re a “true partner” and unfortunately it’s become a buzzword.  A good Recruiter will share important information instinctively to not only save you time and money, but help avoid costly hiring mistakes.  Simply put, they’ll arm you with the information to make informed decisions.



Some recruitment firms work like a cattle call, collecting as many clients and candidates as possible and throwing both at a wall to see what sticks.  The best Recruiters generate quality, not quantity – they understand your needs and only share candidates when there’s a good mutual fit.  



Hiring can quickly become chaotic.  The right search partner will facilitate a process that provides both the client and candidate with the information needed to make an informed decision.



Recruiters can hire one individual for a company or work alongside leaders to build entire teams.  Select a Recruiter that will learn about you and your company culture so they can continuously improve your process and represent your company.