All you Need to Know: How to Hire for A Sales Team

How would you go about hiring a sales team in a vastly competitive space? Here are steps to help you bring the best talent on board.

Proficient and capable salespeople are a vital asset for any business. They are often the first point of contact for your prospective clients and customers and bear the organization’s foundation heavily. However, building a high-quality sales team is not quite easy. It requires Sales managers to invest a considerable amount of time and money to assemble a team of awesome sales representatives aka sales reps. Hence, we bring to you tips on how to hire a sales team.

Below are some strategies that can be employed in recruiting the perfect sales team:

1. Recruit Salespeople on an Ongoing Basis

Do not start looking for replacements when salespeople leave. The urgency of replacing the lost talent can force you to compromise on the quality of the hire and the ones hired might be merely the talent available rather than ideal candidates who are a great fit for the company.

Instead, an organization should develop a system that attracts sales talent on an ongoing basis with a good recruitment plan. If someone shows interest in working with your organization, ask for his sales results and experience and how did they manage to win complex accounts.

2. Build ideal candidate profiles to match the requirements of the company

One of the biggest issues that arise in the hiring process happens before candidates are even assessed: As a sales recruiter, you haven’t defined what you need from your salespeople.

Do you need a hunter who can dive into the market and close net-new business, a lead nurturer who can close warm leads or someone to overtake existing accounts?

Some of the traits of your ideal candidate can include:

  • Characteristics required to sell to your client
  • Attitudes required for the best fit for the role and best cultural fit
  • The skills necessary to excel in the stressful selling environment
  • Personality traits like competitiveness, resilience, conscientiousness, and persistence

3. Build a hiring profile for your company

The company’s hiring profile should move away from fluffy language like “high performing”, and instead focus on a type of sales reps that have experience in:

  • Selling to a specific niche: A sales rep who has sold financial products will have a different skill-set and knowledge to someone who has sold health care or insurance.
  • Talking about technology/software services: Technology is complex and these reps need to be able to expertly explain complicated systems in a digestible way.
  • Working in a cross-functional role: A representative that knows how to multitask and juggle various responsibilities may prove to be invaluable.
  • Using a tool or application: Finding reps who are familiar with the sales tools the sales team uses will reduce onboarding time.

4. What to ask during a sales interview

Many recruiters use behavioral interviewing, and it’s a great way when used sparingly. Behavioral interviews ask questions that use past behavior as an indicator of future performance. Such as situational, “tell me about a time when…” questions. This is one way as to how to hire a sales team.

Behavioral interviews can be stressful for candidates, try to limit yourself to 3 behavior-based questions. Create questions based on the top 3 qualities you want your sales to hire to have, like:

  • Good at navigating ambiguity
  • Experience with a specific industry niche
  • Ability to think on their feet

“I look for integrity, passion, dedication to independent learning, commitment to quality, emotional maturity, and that the person has a motivation outside of work that will fuel them to push hard while at work.” — Jon Dion, VP Sales, Enterprise at Emsi.

5. Assess strong candidates against each other

One of the hardest tasks is choosing between two strong candidates. There is one final test that you need to do to separate the best from the good: a coaching test.

One of the most important qualities of a good salesperson is his/her ability to take constructive criticism and grow from it. A rep can look great on paper, be quick on their feet and be able to sell your product to just about anyone, but if one mistake throws their entire performance, that is a huge red flag.

You need reps on the sales team who are resilient and flexible, can take direction, and who want to improve even if they are already at the top of their game.

6. Red flags for sales hiring

Lack of humility: Even amazing salespeople won’t be number one everywhere they go. Watch out for candidates who claim that they’ve always been the top salesperson at their company. Push them to explain a bit more about their success.

No focus on metrics/numbers: Sales numbers define sales success. A salesperson’s resume should include metrics; if they can’t articulate how they were compensated or how they performed against quota, they probably didn’t outperform the rest of their team.

Inconsistency: In an interview, ask a candidate the same question in different ways — not to trick them, but to ensure that they understand the question and give a consistent answer.

Inconsistency and hitting sales goals do not go well together, salespeople need to follow processes and need to get consistent results.

12 Sales Skills to find in a Candidate:

  1. Relationship-building
  2. Determination
  3. Self-awareness
  4. Emotional awareness
  5. Storytelling
  6. Time management
  7. Gathering info
  8. Product knowledge
  9. Objection handling
  10. Active listening
  11. Sales demo skills
  12. Closing skills

If you follow these few steps, the process to hire a sales team can become much easier. Hiring the right person for the sales team can make an immense impact on your company’s overall success; from revenue growth to retention.

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