Hiring Sales People: The Detailed Guide

Written by Vanja Maganjic


Hiring a new sales professional should be as straightforward as – a new hire equals more sales, right? Well, unfortunately, if you hire the wrong person, not only will your number of sales stagnate, but in some cases, your productivity will go down and you’ll experience a high staff turnover. That’s why it’s so essential to hire the right people for your sales team. 

In this article, we’ll guide you through the entire hiring process, from discovering your goals to the interview process, including a list of questions you should ask and an examination of the most famous trick question. 

Where to start?

Think about what your real reason for hiring a new salesperson is. 

  • Are you growing your business and need a new member of the sales team?
  • Do you need a more experienced sales person to coach your sales team?
  • Are you expanding to a new market and need new people to cover it?
  • Is there a specific target group you want to reach and need an expert on?

Whatever it may be, you need to figure out your needs and start from there. Even if your only answer to this question is – I need to make more sales, you’ll have a basis for the entirety of your hiring process. 

Harvard Business Review estimates that up to 80% of employee turnover is due to bad hiring decisions. If you don’t want to invest your time and effort into finding and onboarding a new team member, just to go over it again and again, you’ll want to reshape your hiring process. 

When speaking with James Thomas, our account executive, we learned that the most important things you should look for when hiring a sales professional are – coachability and attitude

“The one thing I really like to do when interviewing a person for a sales role is to ask them to pitch me our service. It demonstrates how comfortable they are speaking with prospects and reveals important clues about their attitude, ability to think on their feet and how well they prepared for the interview.

Since we’re a completely remote company, I also like to ask candidates what they like to do outside of the job. It’s important to me that they are self-motivated and know how to structure their work days.”

Seeing how sales has a tendency to look different from company to company, it’s important not to focus too much on your candidates’ experience, but on how eager they are to learn and their willingness to be coached. 

“Aptitude and attitude can be more valuable in terms of future growth than someone who’s already done everything.”

The characteristics of a sales professional

If you look at the people in your sales team, we’re sure you’ll see different personalities and backgrounds. Depending on your goals and the type of product or service you’re selling, you’ll want your team members to have specific interests. 

For example, if you’re in the fashion industry, you’ll look for individuals who have a passion for fashion. However, there are some characteristics all sales professionals should have. We’ve already mentioned the importance of coachability, and here are the other skills you should look for when hiring a sales professional. 

  • Problem-solving
    Your sales team should be able to work on their own, meaning they shouldn’t have trouble identifying an issue, finding the best approach and going through with the solution. 

    In a sales scenario, this would mean that your employees should be able to listen to the client’s needs and goals and in turn, present your products and services as the best solution for those exact issues.
  • Communication skills
    It’s not a stretch to say that sales professionals talk for a living. Not only are they expected to be able to get their points across, no matter who the other person is and their knowledge level, but salespeople also need to be great listeners.

    Active listening refers to attentively listening to your client and trying to understand what they’re relaying in order to have an engaged response. If your sales team isn’t paying attention to your client’s needs and is using the same script on every sales call, you’ll lose out on a number of sales.
  • Teamwork
    It’s essential that your salespeople are team players. They shouldn’t be too competitive or in the habit of avoiding sharing knowledge and input with others. Everyone on the team should be working towards the same goal, which is to sell more. 

    If your sales team consists of people who are only looking out for themselves and aren’t interested in being team players, you won’t be able to grow. Growth comes when employees know your company’s goals and how every individual fits into the big picture. 
  • Empathy
    Salespeople with a cold approach have a harder time connecting with customers and in turn making deals. That’s why your sales professionals need to be able to sense and understand clients’ needs, and wants, as well as any worries they might have.  

    That way, they can be genuine in their desire to provide clients with a great solution and close the deal.
  • Knowing how to deal with rejection
    Rejection is a part of the sales process everyone experiences. The way your sales team deals with that aspect is extremely important. It shouldn’t affect your team’s motivation, instead, it should incentivize them to review their process and find ways to improve it.

How to create the job description?

Once you’ve created the perfect candidate profile, it’s time to focus on the job description. Since a job listing is the first form of communication you’ll have with a future employee, it’s important to leave a good first impression. 

Your job description should be:

  • Short
  • Clear
  • Focusing on the benefits
  • Void of any clichés

While it is important to highlight the responsibilities of the role and the requirements, the benefits are what should be front and centre. 

Make sure to mention the:

  • Base salary 
  • PTO options
  • Opportunity for growth
  • Educational opportunities
  • Team building and company culture 
  • And other specific benefits

Please avoid:

  • Using the term family to describe your company
  • Listing a regular salary as a benefit
  • Talking about your competitors

If your job description is too specific and has a long list of requirements, it will deter people from applying. Make sure to present your company’s goals and culture and well as give candidates links to further research your company. 

The best interview questions 

Once you get to the interview stages of the hiring process, you’ll need to prepare a list of specific questions. Here is the list of the best ones to ask your candidates in this particular order. 

Start by asking the candidates about their education and previous experiences. Make sure to ask questions about their resume, because it will give them the opportunity to go into more detail about their previous roles and responsibilities.

  • Why are you applying for this job?
  • What was your past role? 
  • How did you feel about it?

From there, go into the questions that are specific to your industry and the candidates’ approach to sales. 

  • Tell me about a time you overachieved your target.
  • Can you share your greatest success to date? 
  • How would you respond to rejection?
  • Tell me about a time you failed.
  • What sales tools have you used in the past?
  • What about your past experience would make you good at sales?

Next, ask your candidates if they have researched your company and how they would sell your products and services. 

  • Let’s pretend that we’re on a sales call, how would you sell a specific product or service to me?

Lastly, ask them questions that will help you decide whether they are a good fit for your team.

  • How do you stay motivated in a remote setting?
  • Do you have any hobbies or interests?
  • What is one thing you want us to know about you?

If you’re looking to ask any tricky questions, you need to know how to analyze the answers. For example, the famous question What are your strengths and weakness? can tell you a lot about a person. 

Here is what our account executive James Thomas has to say about this specific question:

That’s a challenging question, it really makes you think. If I were to answer the question myself, I would speak to my natural strengths while being honest about my weaknesses. Like my natural gift for building rapport versus my developing skills as an administrator. 

If your candidates answer the question by saying that they don’t have any weaknesses, it should be a red flag. Sales professionals should be able to objectively look at themselves and find skills they need to further develop. 

The key to this question is to look for answers that describe a lack of skills that can be learned or for qualities disguised as weaknesses. For example, if a candidate says they have trouble working under ambiguous guidance, you’ll know that they will be the first one to ask for more information and a better description of their task. 

Conclusion

Now that you have all the information on how to hire a sales professional, all that’s left to do is pick the right software to help speed up the process. With Better Proposals, you can quickly create contracts that your future employees can sign digitally, diminishing the need for printing and scanning. 

Sign up for a free 2-week trial and experience the ease of creating and sending high-quality contracts and other sales documents. 

About Vanja Maganjic

Vanja Maganjić is an experienced writer with a unique passion for creating content that helps brands connect with their customers. She believes in brands that stand up to the man and thinks that storytelling is an essential part of what makes us human. Her long term goal is to become the cool auntie that gives out family-sized Kit Kats on Halloween.
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