5 Steps to Hiring Better Salespeople


In order to hire better salespeople, organizations need to not only come up with a plan and process but also a way to measure performance. Traditional hiring methods aren’t enough anymore. When it comes to recruitment and selection of salespeople, you need to find the right overall match for your company, and the specific sales skills demands of the job. Ability and past experience are good, but equally important is the potential to thrive in your business environment.

You can’t “just tell” if someone is the right choice, Well-planned recruitment, selection and sales assessment strategies create a comprehensive process that will assure a higher success rate. A holistic approach is essential in today’s complex and rapidly-changing business environment. A fully integrated process will enable you to achieve profitable, long-term results.


1. Attract promising prospects.

Step one in the hiring process involves finding the right prospects to engage with in the first place. In order to hire top performers, you need to make sure that top performers enter into your hiring funnel. Then the hiring process becomes a combination of determining if the sales person will be successful and marketing the job to the candidate (but only for those you really want). You want to attract the most promising prospects, but to close the sale you have to sell your company as a desirable workplace. Limiting your search or failing to promote your company as a great place to work could cause you to miss out on someone truly special.

In order to find those potential top performers, companies should use every avenue possible. Savvy professionals are online, and social media can be an effective means of inbound recruiting. Even your own employees can be valuable recruiters.

Incorporating technology and online tools into your application procedures refines the recruiting process, assessing knowledge and competency but also key personal traits and values that best fit your company.


2. Use pre-employment sales assessments.

Next, once you have attracted the talent, it’s time to put their skills to the test. Using all available tools to optimize that process and streamline your procedures will give you the most compelling results. Since you’re hiring a “whole person,” base your sales assessment plan on company goals and culture as well as job-specific requirements.

Pre-screening and assessment tools, specifically sales assessments, can provide the greatest insight regarding each applicant’s relevant abilities and likely success as a salesperson. Assessments generate factual data and improve the inherent subjectivity of the hiring process. Through the sales assessments used, both skills and  “fit” characteristics can be measured. Using predictive analysis to evaluate information enables you to see more clearly which individuals will likely succeed in your organization. Personal interviews allow you to drill down even more.

A strategic assessment plan can save time for recruiters and avoid inadvertently overlooking great candidates, while at the same time making sure that unqualified candidates don’t get hired.


What a Sales Assessment should measure:

Interactive Skills:
  • Analyze customer needs
  • Active listening
  • Manage the sales process
  • Influence and close


Personality Factors/Fit:
  • Sociability
  • Assertiveness
  • Achievement
  • Dependability
  • Emotional resilience


3. Create a talent plan.

Think of it as “asset management.” A targeted employee development program supports corporate as well as hiring success by identifying specific talent needs, including key sales-related competencies. High-performing salespeople have several common characteristics you’ll want to look for in new people. Hiring the right salesperson can give your company strategic and tactical advantages in addition to generating revenue and profit.

Inventory talents available within your current staff, identify gaps that should be filled as well as future needs, and create a dashboard to track assessment and performance.


4. Build on what you have.

Keep the good ones, and work to make them better. People-centric companies generally perform better, so include staff in thinking and planning. Asking employees for their input not only shows that their say matters, it also allows for new ideas, “Employees often work more closely with customers, so they know what buyers need and request.” According to Forbes. This is especially true for sales people specifically because they know first hand what customers are saying.

Treat prospective employees well, too. Failure to appropriately communicate with applicants can damage your reputation and brand, your workplace allure.


5. Measure success.

Finally, once you have some insight into what works for your organization, it’s time to measure that success. Every company defines “success” differently. Knowing which skills and personalities blend best within your company will help uncover top quality applicants. Systematically gather and analyze data, using key performance indicators.

Hiring mistakes are extremely costly. Relevant data and effective analysis help manage risk and significantly reduce these avoidable costs by more accurately predicting good choices.

According to SHRM, “A resetting of strategy and metrics that values talent as an asset rather than an expense is critical for companies under pressure to operate more efficiently, build resilience and create value from their workforce investments.”

You’re sifting for gold, and you have to work within an HR budget that may be constrained. Focusing on recruitment and selection of the best salespeople with the best company fit will greatly improve retention and build long-term success, and ultimately drive revenue.


To read more about pre employment assessments: Pre Employment Assessments: Everything You Need To Know

Related Blog: Measuring the Quality of Hires Vs. Quantity

Related Webinar: Video-based Job Applications – A True Paradigm Shift in Hiring


This blog has been revised. It was originally posted on 06/10/2015