Are You Hiring the Right Salesperson?

Michele Warg
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If your new sales reps aren't living up to your expectations, it may be time to take a look at your hiring practices. There's a strong chance you're not hiring the right employees for your particular organization. Hiring for sales starts with understanding just what qualities and capabilities your current top sales reps have. Here are a few tips to help get your hiring back on track.

Understand What You're Looking For

Before you can hire the right new sales reps, you need to know just which traits are the most important for success in your organization. Start with a little brainstorming session, making a list of all the background, skills, personality traits and aptitudes a great sales rep needs. Then go over the list more carefully. Look at each item with a critical eye towards how important it is for your specific company. Is it more important that someone has a history of sales success, or have most of your best reps been new to sales but shown a passion for it? Try to pare your list down to just 10 items, and then put the items in order from most important to least.

Talk to Your Team

Your current sales force may have a better idea than you do of just what makes one new sales rep better than another. Find out what your current reps want in a teammate and what kind of people team leaders hope to recruit for their teams. Bring some of your hiring ideas to them for feedback. Some areas to explore include places to advertise the position, the actual steps of the recruitment process and interviewing procedures. You may want to pull team leaders or even some of your best sales reps into final interviews to get their opinions on recruits.

Think About Your Culture

You and your team may have a strong idea of the traits that your new sales reps need, but if those highly qualified reps don't fit in with your culture, they are unlikely to stay with your organization for the long term. Does your team like to have fun, or are most of them of a serious bent? Does your company value cooperation or do most sales reps work on their own? Is ambition rewarded or are most reps expected to stay in the same position for years? When new hires fit your culture, the onboarding period is shorter, and new sales reps are happier and more likely to stick around for the long term. Hiring for sales requires looking at the big picture and thinking about how each prospective employee will interact with your organization for years into the future.

After figuring out what makes a great employee and improving your hiring process, make sure to have a great support system in place for those new sales reps. Consider a mentoring program in addition to a more formal training period. Recruiting great sales people and providing them with the tools they need to thrive is the foundation to overall sales growth and company success.

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