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February 1st 2018

5 Tips To Hire A Game-Changing Salesperson

by Miriam Groom

Sales is the most central department to any business. Without sales, there is no fuel to keep it going.

If you’ve spent any time at all as a sales and/or hiring manager, you’ll know that finding a solid salesperson is no easy feat. A quality salesperson can and should change your bottom line for the better and take your business to the next level.

Recruiting these employees is one of the most important elements to growing a successful, profitable business. Never stop looking for talented sales oriented individuals, as the market is competitive and turnover can be fierce.

SO, HOW EXACTLY DO YOU RECRUIT A GREAT SALESPERSON?

1. KNOW WHAT IT TAKES

It’s time to be introspective. Before seeking out candidates, or writing out sales job descriptions, it will add great value to your process to research internally what it takes to be good at sales at your company. In essence, you can’t hire a great salesperson if you don’t know what a great salesperson looks like for you.

Brainstorm with the top performers in your current sales team and interview them; ask them their input on what it takes to succeed from where they’re standing. Observe how they work; take your own notes on their workflow, and the kinds of qualities it will take to perform at their capacity.

This will help you flesh out not only what makes a good salesperson in general, but what makes a good salesperson for your company and the product you’re selling. 

2. BUILD A STRONG BRAND AS AN EMPLOYER

Recruiting a salesperson is often asking a candidate to jump ship. The fact of the matter is, asking anyone to change their daily habits is a big deal.

But, asking a highly valued salesperson to consider your company is that much more difficult. Companies that recognize good salespeople will do their best to hold on to them and give them incentives to stay. 

Employer brands matter! In fact, about 11% of job seekers said they would decline an offer from an employer with a bad reputation -- even if they are actively looking for employment!  *

Building your brand out starts with creative content. Write catchy job descriptions that pique people’s interests, optimize your career page, and create interesting and relevant content for social media -- talented individuals will flock to you.

3. PHONE & IN-PERSON INTERVIEW

With any candidate for any position, it’s advisable to schedule a phone interview before you go ahead and book an in-person interview. The phone interview is a good time to lay some groundwork, and assess what you can.

Cover the basics the basics. How is their tone of voice? Do they meet your requirements? Do they have the proper qualifications? Does it match your vision for a good salesperson at your company?

If all is well, book an in-person interview. Here is where you will want to assess their body language. Do they come across as confident? 

Headhunter Lynne Goguen warns, “Sales roles are tricky because many candidates are great at selling themselves in order to get the job, but can’t always deliver once they’re in the role.”

One of the most important questions you should ask is why they are open to looking for a new employer. Point blank, a good salesperson should already be working. Companies will go through great lengths to keep a high performing salesperson on board.

4. REFERENCES HAVE NEVER BEEN MORE IMPORTANT

Getting references from a candidate is always a key step to the recruiting process. In the case of sales, it is hands-down the most important piece of information you can get from a sales candidate.

As good salespeople are typically already working somewhere, treat wayward salespeople with caution. Essentially, you will want to get an idea of how they perform. Can they share their sales numbers, salary, commission rate with you?

This is vital information that you will want to verify with their references, as they are a huge indicator of their sales performance.

Lynne Goguen shares a cautionary tale, “Once I was recruiting for a senior sales position that offered a competitive compensation plan. I had a candidate that sailed through the interview process but when the time came to start pre-employment verifications, and all of a sudden the story changed.” This was a huge red flag!

She continues, “It turned out they were no longer at the company they said they were at, they had never earned that much money before, they never actually graduated etc. It all fell apart for that person.”

5. A JOB INTERVIEW GOES TWO WAYS

If you are trying to recruit a high-performing salesperson, chances are that they are in talks with multiple companies. Beyond the company’s overall brand, the interview will also be a way that the candidate determines if they want to work with your company.

The recruiter and hiring manager are fundamentally company ambassadors. Successful employers will do the most to represent the company and promote a positive image of the workplace.

It’s true that a job interview is a time for employers to assess the handshake, body language, tone of voice, and overall capabilities of the candidate.

That being said, you should fully expect to be analyzed by the candidate in the same way. It’s important to be professional, but maintain an air of personability as well.

In fact, a 2017 recruitment study found that companies that focus on creating a strong candidate experience improve the quality of hire by 70%. *

Quality salespeople have always been and will always be in high-demand by companies. Chances are, they will never have trouble finding a job -- and because of this, they are some of the hardest employees to recruit at a company.

To succeed as a recruiter, you will have to perform at your best, and hit all of the above-mentioned points. A good salesperson is game changing for a company, so now’s the time to take the necessary steps to find them. 

However, keep in mind that employing a sought-after salesperson will mean continually incentivizing them to stay at your company. It’s an endless battle, but one that is well worth it.

Miriam Groom

VP of Operations

Miriam has experience with a wide range of clients, from small high growth organizations to some of the largest global organizations. Industries include consumer goods, retail, energy, manufacturing, food and beverage, chemical, mining and metals, plastics and packaging, distribution and logistics. Miriam has conducted mid to senior-level recruitment engagements across a variety of functions including directors, business and corporate development, sales & marketing, finance, engineering, and operations.