If you’re building a sales team, signs are positive. You’re probably in a good place.
Your business is growing, you’re enjoying success, and you’re increasing your workforce to reach more potential customers. Whether you’re hiring your first salesperson, or just adding to your sales team, it’s important to know how to spot a successful salesperson.
To make sure you continue to grow, and hire salespeople that will help you do that, you need to understand what makes a good salesperson and attract the right talent to join your team and scale success.
It can be difficult to see through charisma and well-rehearsed interview tactics, but the best salespeople have certain traits that can’t be missed, which we’ll go over in this article.
To help you improve your hiring hit rate and make your final decision easy, we’ve created an eight-stage process to equip you and your team with the right tools to use when hunting for good salespeople.
Creating a job spec isn’t the first step to finding a good salesperson or building out a sales team. First you should identify your needs; assess what a “good” salesperson looks like for you, your team, and your organization as a whole.
Before drafting up a job description, you should review your current business needs and assess any experience gaps in your sales department, and then look for sales representatives that could fill those gaps. Be honest about the skill set and experience level you need, and consider a realistic budget that you can afford to set aside for salary for your new hire (and make sure the two match).
Whether you're recruiting a salesperson to capitalize on your current success or because you currently haven’t got the right people to meet the needs of your business, you need to take your reasons into account.
If you’ve previously had employees that lacked key skills or experience, investigate why they failed. Use past mistakes to learn from your lessons and hire a successful salesperson this time around.
A common mistake when writing a job description is the ‘more is more’ approach, leaving you with pages and pages of detail. Be clear and concise. This ensures the key features you are searching for aren’t lost in an ocean of text.
Simple rule of thumb: if it can’t fit on one page, it’s probably too long.
You also need to set clear expectations that are attainable and trackable. Be honest about what a typical day might look like and try not to oversell the more glamorous aspects of the role. While this may attract a lot of candidates, it can also lead to disillusionment further down the line.
Make sure you use clear language when looking to hire a salesperson. Saying “you’ll be a part of a successful sales team” is okay, but not as good as “you will be working within a team of six, using X tools to forecast and deliver sales”. This alternative gives a much clearer picture of the environment and requirements.
Take care to consider the skills and experience you consider to be mandatory in a sales representative. This will help you weed out unsuitable applicants. Consider the minimum amount of experience required in a similar role (particularly if the ability to manage others is a central part of the role).
The best salespeople can sometimes be elusive, so you need to use everything in your power to track your ideal candidate down. Using several portals to advertise your vacancy will give you the opportunity to reach as many candidates as possible.
Your first port of call will probably be searching for salesperson candidates who are actively looking for a new role. Don’t limit yourself to this step (particularly if your new hire is a senior one). You’ll find it’s often worth the extra effort to reach out to potential superstar candidates who aren’t actively searching.
While these more passive candidates may not be crawling the web for their next job, with a persuasive and personalized pitch, you may be able to generate interest in what your company has to offer.
Active candidates will be looking at online job posting sites such as Indeed.com, whereas passive candidates are best reached via their LinkedIn profiles or email with a tailored message focused on the opportunities you can provide for them and the key reasons why you believe they are the perfect fit. Sometimes the best salespeople are the passive candidates: they know their worth, and wait for companies to reach out to them.
While it’s important to be open-minded about experience and backgrounds, you’ll need to be clear on the details you won’t compromise on when it comes to a new salesperson hire.
Interviewing someone with five years of sales experience in manufacturing when you’re looking to fill a position in a company that sells property is probably not going to turn out as well. Interviewing can be a tiresome process, so make sure you’re weeding out candidates that you already know won’t fit into your sales team.
Also, engaging someone very junior to fill a role with a lot of responsibility can put undue pressure on both you and the new hire. Taking this risk with your hiring can often lead to a costly failure, no matter how much promise the candidate shows.
You want to find a candidate with a consistent track record and impressive results from previous companies. Just remember to keep in mind that sales is a tough business. Don’t use unexplained gaps in employment and the odd short tenure as an absolute deal-breaker. Ask the candidate for their story. There may be a valid reason and if there is one, it shouldn’t exclude them in your search for the right salesperson.
Be wary of candidates that bill themselves as a ‘successful salesperson’ without anything tangible to show for it. Instead, focus on the results they have achieved in previous roles. A good salesperson should also include a section for sales awards and achievements on their résumé, where they’ll be able to back up any claims with objective proof.
If you're looking to hire a salesperson make sure you have a structured interview process to follow before you begin. Every company has certain unique requirements, but there’s a standard best practice for interviews comprising of three key stages:
Before starting your interviews, design them in a format that guarantees you the answers and information you need. Clear expectations are key to hiring a salesperson who fits your requirements.
Not sure what your list of ideal qualities should include? Check out our article on successful salespeople, or have a look at the following quick examples of questions you can use to generate the type of answers that make your decision easier:
The interview process can take a long time, but the best candidates may well be speaking to other recruiters, so it’s important to keep the lines of communication open. Don’t wait to give an offer to a great salesperson as –you might miss out on hiring them before someone else does.
If you think they may be someone you want to hire, make sure they know you are keen. Keeping candidates in the loop will prevent them from accepting offers elsewhere before you can make an offer of your own. A great salesperson can be judged by their ability to negotiate, and you can see this first-hand when you make them an initial offer.
A successful salesperson will expertly negotiate the best salary possible. There’s a good chance your candidate may refuse your first offer. In the end, if they can convince you, a seasoned expert in sales, to give them what they want then they may be a perfect fit for your team.
Integrating your new salesperson into the team doesn’t happen automatically after the contract is signed. You’ll need to familiarize them with the company culture and help them understand what they’ll need to bring to the table to meet the demands of the business.
There are three things that should happen in the first month of the new starter joining.
After the new candidate has settled and the onboarding process is complete, make sure you keep them challenged and stimulated with online and offline training courses.
Our Sales Pipeline Course email course is the perfect solution!
The training series consists of 11 bite-sized lessons, and best of all it’s completely free!
We know that hiring the salesperson you need for your team can be time-consuming and stressful, especially if you’ve hired people in the past that haven’t matched up to your expectations. But follow these eight steps and you’ll bolster your chances of finding the perfect candidates.
And make sure you add our Sales Pipeline Course as the final step in your training and induction process.
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