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Best Practices for Hiring a Quality Salesperson


Hiring a salesperson is easy. Hiring a good one is not. There’s often a fairly steep learning curve for new salespeople—even experienced ones—who need to take the time to learn the ins and outs of your product, methods, and culture.

This means that you might not realize you’ve made a bad hire until fairly late in the game, and you’re left with the significant cost of propping up unimpressive work as best you can or starting the recruitment process all over again. What’s more, salespeople work closely with potential customers, and the wrong one can significantly color their perception of your business and the products or services you provide.

The Employer's Guide to Hiring Salespeople

But while all this is true, that doesn’t mean hiring salespeople is a crapshoot. As with any hiring process, there are steps you can take to help ensure that you’re hiring the right person for the right job. Here are just a few.

1. Avoid hiring for the sales “look.”

There are some strong stereotypes when it comes to salespeople. They’re all talkative, maybe a bit loud. They’re conventionally attractive. They’re brash. They’re likeable, the kind of people you’d want to sing karaoke with on your birthday.

And it’s true, some good salespeople might look like this. But many don’t (and many poor ones do). By relying on stereotypes, you’re putting yourself at risk for overlooking potential top sellers who don’t fit the mold.

Some top salespeople have quiet personalities who exceed their goals by being careful listeners where chatterboxes flounder. Some look approachable where the more carefully coiffed seem intimidating. And some may be friendly, but not particularly skilled or interested in your industry. Ideally, your sales team will have members with different styles and strengths, so that you are able to connect well with different kinds of customers.

2. Take your sales culture seriously.

It’s not uncommon for sales teams to have their own unique culture within their broader organizations. You undoubtedly think hard about company culture when hiring, but it’s important to consider your sales culture as well. Is it heavily competitive or collaborative? Is it focused more on numbers or on developing customer relationships? What style of management and supervision does the team receive? When you’re aware of your sales team’s culture, you can deliberately seek out candidates who will flourish in that sort of environment, rather than hiring exclusively for your company culture only to find out they’re unhappy in sales.

3. Understand the value that quality salespeople bring.

If you’re looking for an experienced salesperson, make sure you understand the value they bring to the table, and set your salary appropriately. Keep in mind the entire compensation package as well, including any commissions, bonuses, and benefits.

If you want to hire—and even more importantly, retain—top-quality salespeople, appreciating their value is key. (For help with setting the right salary, download our comprehensive guide on the subject.)

4. Remember that salespeople are people first.

Sales positions are different than most other jobs. But so are engineering positions. And PR positions. And human resources positions. If you have a recruitment and hiring process that works well, don’t toss the whole thing in the bin just because you see the word “sales.”

Think hard about the right combination of hard and soft skills, personality traits, personal goals, knowledge, and experience, and then figure out how to uncover those characteristics in your candidates.

Still unclear on what that looks like in the context of sales? Download The Employer's Guide to Hiring Salespeople or get in touch with our hiring experts to have a conversation about how SelectOne can help you through the process.

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