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How to Hire and Recruit for Sales

Posted by Jessica Miller-Merrell

interview for sales position

For companies big or small, sales is the lifeblood of the organization. Without sales, cash flow is non-existent and quite frankly there is no business.  Hiring a great salesperson is both an art and a science. The right salesperson can take a small company and build it into something big. Building relationships, making connections, and finding the perfect client for your company is all in the job role of a salesperson. Finding the right salesperson can be extremely difficult, especially in an environment filled with the mentality that anyone can sell.

Selling has been called the art of persuading people into thinking and believing that the company they’re selling for is the right fit. Building rapport and first impressions are always the best way to build the initial relationships. Make friends first, pitch later. A good salesperson will find the perfect opportunity to pitch a potential client; bad ones will pitch first and talk later. In order to find the perfect salesperson for your organization, we’ve come up with a list of a few characteristics you should be looking for when making your next hire.

Great salespeople deliver more than they promise and always promise a lot.

A great salesperson will do just that. Salespeople need to be self-starters who are driven by the unlimited amount of potential and money they could earn. They will set what seems like unobtainable goals and not only will they reach their goal, but they will surpass it. Ask for examples of their previous sales goals and if they obtained them. Did they hit their goal or did they exceed it in great numbers?

Great salespeople never give up on unsold clients, knowing that one day, someday in the future, they will become clients.

In a nutshell, they don’t quit. If they don’t make a sale on a potential client, they will wait, nurture the relationship, and try again. Good salespeople never give up on an opportunity, and just because they are told no two or three times doesn’t prevent them from trying a fourth time. How many times have they been told no? And from that, how many times have they gone back and closed the deal?

Great salespeople don’t stay busy, they stay productive!

Anyone can stay busy, but staying productive is an entirely different story. A salesperson can waste the entire day staying busy, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re productive. In order to hire a good salesperson, look at their track record, what kinds of sales were they making, ask them about how they operate day to day. This will give you a better understanding of whether they’re a productive salesperson or busy salesperson.

Great salespeople obsess about dominating their industry not competing in it.

You certainly don’t want to hire a salesperson who is okay with simply competing in the market. You want someone who wants to dominate the market. Being second best is no longer good enough, and you want a salesperson with that same mindset. You want your company, not your competitors, to win all the big contracts. Hire someone who has a track record of being the best. The investment will pay for itself if you hire the right person.

Spotting the Perfect Salesperson

The majority of companies fail in their first five years, not because of their product or accounting practices, but from lack of sales. As a recruiter it’s your job to be able to find the perfect salesperson that can take your company from zero in sales to millions. Finding the right candidate is hard, and hiring the wrong person can get your company doors closed faster than not having any sales staff.

We’ve already gone over qualities of a good salesperson, but how do you find them?

Word of Mouth

If you’re in the HR world, it’s a safe bet to say that you’re a great networker. If you’re not, you’re in the wrong field. Recruiters make friends with everyone, even other recruiters. If you are hiring for a very specific position, use your network and see if anyone knows of a fantastic salesperson who may be ready to move onto greener pastures. Tell your clients. If they’re fans of your products, there might be a natural-born salesperson at one of them who already has the brand ambassador part down. Tell your Banker. When your business skyrockets, so does theirs. Bankers are great people and are also pretty well-connected within the business world.

Classifieds

This seems like an archaic method of trying to find a new salesperson, but a classified can be a job posting in a newspaper, online advertising, or any other form of communication that helps seek out potential candidates. Make sure to include words like “self-starter” or “highly motivated” in your description. Let them know what the product is. If you generalize with a salesperson, it’ll be a big waste of time for both you and the candidate. Set a clear expectation about every facet of the business, so they’ll go into the initial interview knowing what to expect.

Asking the right questions when hiring a salesperson can make or break a company. A salesperson’s number one goal in a company is to bring in business. If they aren’t doing that, what are they doing? Building leads, nurturing them, and pitching means nothing if they can’t close the deal. The biggest piece of advice in hiring and recruiting a salesperson is to ask the right questions. Look at their past history. Are they selling? Have they exceeded their goals? Are they busy, or are they productive? Don’t hire lightly, because a bad salesperson can destroy a company from within, if you’re pouring resources into their salary and not seeing the results you need.

What have you found effective when hiring a salesperson?

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About Jessica Miller-Merrell

Author

Jessica is listed as the 2nd most influential recruiter online and as the 8th most powerful woman on Twitter. She is the author of Tweet This! Twitter for Business, a how-to business guide for Twitter users. She also writes for a number of leading publications, including Fortune, HR Magazine, SmartBrief, and HR Executive Magazine.

2 COMMENTS Join the discussion
  • Desmond Pry March, 28, 2013

    It looks like you need to be a sales person to know a sales person. But since the HR can be considered a sales person per se, as they get to sell the company image and environment to everybody they get in contact, who’s better to judge a salesman?

  • Liam Curr March, 29, 2013

    A salesman is hard to assess if he doesn’t provide numbers for his/her previous activities. So this is when the recruiter’s skills come in handy. Discerning through the possible lies and boasts, figuring if they can reach their quotas, and if generally they are suited for the job is all up to the recruiter. Kind of a double edged sword. If you get it right, you are a hero, if not, well, then is bad.

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