Hiring Talent vs Upskilling Employees

9 mins

Explore the upskilling vs. hiring dilemma. From risk reduction to business expansion, find the right talent strategy for your unique needs.

An age-old question for businesses for their talent strategy: Should we be upskilling employees or injecting fresh blood by hiring talent? Both approaches can be highly effective, but choosing the right one for your business takes an in-depth understanding of your unique needs and challenges. 

In this guide, we make a case for both upskilling employees and hiring new talent. We look at the benefits of both options, looking at areas such as cost, company culture, business growth, and retention to support you in deciding which talent strategy is most suitable for your business and situation. So, let’s start with the case for upskilling employees. 

The Case for Upskilling Employees 

Upskilling employees is about nurturing your talent and transforming them into highly skilled and adaptable assesses who can drive your business towards unprecedented success. 

The strategy of upskilling employees is not limited to sales, as according to a World Economic Forum report, by 2025, more than 50% of employees globally will need to reskill or upskill. Upskilling employees have a host of benefits, so let’s look at the compelling evidence in the case for upskilling employees. 

Decreased Risk 

No matter how thorough your sales recruitment process is, there is no real way of knowing how effective a new team member will be until they start the role. They could have oversold their skills or experience, so integrating them into the team could be difficult. It could be that they possess all the technical skills, but they don’t fit culturally.

Even if they have all the skills and experience and fit in culturally, the employees themselves may decide that your business isn’t for them and leave quickly. In this scenario, you are right back to where you started your sales recruitment process.  

If your new hire does work and they decide your business is right for their career, you still have the pressure of ensuring an effective onboarding process. During this process, they will need to get to know the people and learn the processes and systems in your business before they can really impact their role. Ensuring they receive the right onboarding requires time and resources. 

Compare this with upskilling employees already in the business, who you know are a great cultural fit and have the drive to learn the new technical or soft skills you require and can avoid the time, cost, and potential negative impact of hiring talent. 

Reduces Cost 

As we touched on above, the bottom line is that hiring is, unfortunately, expensive. Finding the right talent for your sales team takes time and, most importantly, money. Rushing the hiring process and hiring the wrong person can prove costly. 

According to the British Business Bank, the average cost to hire someone in the UK is £3,000, around 20% to 30% of the average salary. The more senior the position is and the higher the salary, the higher the fee. 

If the hire turns out to be poor, this can have alarming consequences, which are highlighted in these figures:

  • The average cost of a bad hire is 30% of the employee's first-year salary 

  • 10% of sales opportunities are lost 

  • 27% of businesses in the UK said that poor hires cost them more than £50,000

  • A bad hire can cause a 36% drop in productivity

Build a Learning and Development Culture 

No one wants to work for a business with a culture of stagnation and no real way to improve yourself and develop your career. Sales professionals want to feel motivated and feel like they are continuously learning. Driving a culture of upskilling is an excellent way to develop an environment where everyone is motivated to learn and develop new skills. Encouraging employees to upskill will drive innovation, increase productivity, and elevate sales performance. 

Upskilling can be done internally and externally, providing courses such as sales training and customer success training where employees learn new skills and share ideas to improve their performance in their roles or aim for a promotion. Going externally for sales and customer success training can be highly beneficial as you can work with the provider to create a bespoke training program that uses their expertise to build the skills and knowledge of your sales team. 

Developing a learning and development culture is also an excellent pull factor for your business when you are in a scenario where you need to hire new talent, for example, when growing business operations. Like existing employees, potential new additions to the sales team want to see clear career paths and ways to develop if they do accept a role with your company. 

Improves Staff Retention

According to LinkedIn's 2022 Workplace Learning Report, 94% of employees have stated they would remain with a company longer if they had a clear learning and development strategy. Upskilling employees is one vital method of developing a learning and development culture to help increase staff loyalty. 

Here are the key benefits of staff retention for having an upskilling culture within your business: 

  • Enhanced Employee Engagement - Sales professionals are driven by working in environments where resources for development and growth are available. Committing to their learning and development will build engagement and enthusiasm for working and building a career in your business, proving to them that you are committed to their future. 

  • Improved Job Satisfaction and Performance - Upskilling employees will help increase their job satisfaction and drive their performance. Sales professionals who feel invested in growing their skill set are much more likely to stay with a business long-term but also more driven and have the necessary skills to drive their performance. Sales professionals also like to be constantly challenged, and learning new skills will increase 

  • Reward and Recognition - Sales professionals who feel recognised and rewarded are much more likely to feel a sense of loyalty to your business. Upskilling employees is an excellent way of demonstrating recognition for their ability and hard work as you show them that they are part of the company's future and that you want to give them the skills they need to progress in their careers. A tangible commitment to a sales professional's future can be more rewarding than simple words or incentives. 

The Case for Hiring Talent 

While upskilling employees offers tremendous benefits, there is also an excellent case for bringing in fresh talent. Like an injection of energy, hiring talent can ignite creativity, fill skills gaps, and drive business growth and success. Here’s why you shouldn’t shy away from welcoming new faces into your sales team. 

Brings New Prospectives 

Even if your existing sales team is delivering on their objectives and hitting their targets, hiring talent can bring fresh ideas, perspectives, and creative ideas. Sales professionals who have worked elsewhere can offer new ideas and solutions to address current problems or ineffective working methods (ones you may not even know you had). Experiences and skilled sales professionals who bring creative ideas can also provide a competitive edge to drive business performance in your markets. 

Boost Morale and Improve Company Culture 

Hiring talent not only brings in new ideas and perspectives but also new energies and diverse experiences and personalities, which help keep the company culture diverse and prevent the team spirit and atmosphere from going a little stale. 

While diverse personalities and ideas can also help boost morale, new talent can also help when the sales team is stretched. Sales professionals work hard in a fast-paced and challenging environment; however, pushing them too hard can negatively affect their morale and limit their productivity. Hiring talent can share the workloads, prevent burnout and fatigue, and drive sales performance. 

Vital for Growing a Business 

While upskilling your sales team has many benefits to their career progress and a sense of company loyalty, hiring talent is sometimes unavoidable, especially if you are planning a period of growth. Whether this is just expanding your current workforce to accommodate larger workloads or you are expanding operations in other locations.

Hiring talent is beneficial for business expansion for the following reasons:

  • Increased Workforce Capacity - Expanding usually involves taking on more projects and customers and moving into new markets. Hiring employees will help meet the increased demand, allowing you to scale your operations. 

  • Expanding into New Locations - If your business expands into a new location, hiring talent can provide valuable insights and cultural understandings that support a successful expansion strategy. 

  • Specialised Expertise and Skills -  Entering new markets or introducing new services and products often needs sales professionals to come into the business with the niche or specialist knowledge and skill sets, not in the capacity of the current sales team. 

Lack of Resources for Upskilling Employees 

Some businesses, particularly startups and smaller companies, may face challenges when upskilling employees due to a lack of resources. This lack of resources may mean that businesses can’t provide the training and development programs needed for employees to gain new skills. 

Here are some of the main reasons for these challenges: 

  • Financial Constraints - A common problem is that businesses don’t have the budget to provide training programs, and they have to pay for things such as technological tools and training materials. If your businesses are running on a tight budget, upskilling employees may be impossible.

  • Lack of Time - Upskilling employees requires time from both the employee who wants training and the business that needs to dedicate time to planning and implementing the training. Finding time for training without disrupting daily operations can be a major hurdle in markets and industries where deadlines are tight and workloads are demanding. 

  • Lack of In-House Expertise - Some businesses may lack the dedicated training personnel or in-house expertise to create and deliver effective upskilling programs. This hurdle can be overcome by seeking the services of an external training provider who can provide the training skills and expertise needed to train both new and current employees. 

The Verdict on Hiring Talent vs Upskilling Employees

Businesses often grapple with the decision of upskilling existing talent or bringing in new hires for fresh perspectives. The choice depends on a nuanced understanding of your organisation's specific needs and challenges.

Upskilling employees is a cost-effective option, especially when risk reduction is a priority. Existing employees are familiar with, and tailored training minimises uncertainties in onboarding. Besides financial benefits, upskilling cultivates a culture of continuous learning, boosting morale and loyalty, which is essential in today's competitive talent landscape.

However, upskilling isn't a one-size-fits-all solution. Hiring becomes crucial when seeking game-changing perspectives or specialised expertise not present in the current team. Fresh talent injects new energy and creativity, which are valuable in navigating new markets or product lines, particularly during rapid growth.

The decision requires finding a balanced blend of upskilling and hiring aligned with your goals and resources. Analyse your current skill set, identify gaps, and assess your growth trajectory. For cost-efficient growth and a loyal workforce, prioritise upskilling. Yet, when fresh perspectives or rapid expansion are vital, embracing new hires becomes the pragmatic choice. Building an ideal team involves a balanced approach, propelling your business towards lasting success.

An Expert Sales Training and Recruitment Provider 

Are you grappling with the decision of upskilling employees or hiring talent? Hopefully, our insightful guide has helped, but luckily, at Pareto, we are highly experienced in both. For over 25 years, we have provided bespoke sales training for businesses of all sizes that help your sales teams develop new skills or improve their existing ones. We also specialise in sales recruitment, connecting your business with driven and talented sales professionals.

Contact us today to discuss how we can support your business in achieving unprecedented success. 

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