By Julianna House, Intern at Heinz Marketing

Recruiting and hiring
the right sales representatives can make or break your company.

Your sales reps will work with prospects to discover their needs, create customized solutions, drive profitable relationships, and bring in measurable results. 

Regardless of inside or field sales, your sales reps tend to initially take on the face of your business for prospects. Though your prospects may have seen other marketing channels, read about your company online, or seen some social activity, the first sales engagement is the first tangible interaction and thus the first impression. 

And we all know first impressions are critical. 

So when it comes to recruiting the next ‘face’ of your company, you need to put the time, effort and dedication required to hire the best.

Recruiting is hard work, and for many, it’s always on their mind. Most managers are paying attention to their surroundings constantly taking note of what is going on at other companies, who in their network is engaging, and are actively putting out feelers to keep their company top-of-mind. 

Are you doing that now?

Did you know average annual turnover in sales is 25-30%, which means if you have 10 reps you are going to lose two of them within a year? They say it takes about 6-9 months to get a sales rep ramped up and actually selling so your turnover just got that much more important.  

In order to fill your sales rep positions, first, you should always be recruiting and second, you should have a strong hiring strategy in place. 

So how can you maximize the returns on your hiring investment?

Here are 6 tips to hire the best sales reps for your business:

1. Identify personnel needs

An important first step is to analyze and determine staffing needs before beginning the hiring process. Your personnel needs are the number of new salespeople depending on sales growth targets, distribution strategies, change in sales force organization, and sales force turnover in your company. 

Building a hiring profile of the ideal candidate can also help guide the prospecting process of new hires. Just like targeting specific customers that best fit your products, you should identity the skills and traits of ideal reps and then seek them out. By looking at top performing sales reps you can determine what characteristics and abilities are needed to exceed at the job.  

2. Align with your company culture

Aligning your company’s recruiting strategies to its core values should help retain and attract high performance salespeople, rather than those who are culturally disconnected. The primary cause of poor performance and a large turnover is poor job fit. 

Company culture is in the top 5 biggest considerations jobseekers consider before they accept an offer. And a company’s top priority in hiring should be to determine if the prospective rep is a good match to the company culture.

3. Create a job analysis

The job analysis is a crucial piece in the hiring process. It is a systematic way to describe how the job is performed and the responsibilities it entails. The best way to create an effective job analysis is to interview management and top salespeople, as well as observe. The main focus should be the tasks of high-performing salespeople and their daily activities. 

The job analysis must contain a clear job description that includes the following: 

  • Who they report to
  • How they interaction with other staff
  • The customers they call on
  • Specific tasks of the job
  • The products being sold 

It is important that new hires understand which products are their responsibility to sell. In depth product knowledge is not needed in order to efficiently sell. Many companies make the mistake of requiring that a sales person have a certain amount of experience in their particular industry. This is rarely necessary. 

A good sales person with a bit of education in your industry will figure out the key information necessary to sell your product or service. I think of a good sales rep as someone who can make you sell the shirt off your back and make you think it’s your idea.

4. Specify job qualifications  

These are the aptitudes, skills, knowledge, and personal traits necessary to perform the job successfully. Qualifications can range from education and previous work experience to technical expertise and interests. Some say, the best indicator of future success is past experiences. 

Behaviors and attitudes should be held to the same standard.  Good sales reps must be good listeners. Prospective customers with the right prompting will tell you what their “pain” is, and the right sales rep will listen for that and sell how your product or service will help stop the pain.

5. Compensation 

Hire sales reps that are motivated by your company’s commission structure. People are different, so you have to figure out what motivates them to sell for you. If you have a set structure and you aren’t going to make changes to it, then only hire sales reps that are used to selling under that type of structure. Otherwise you will not get the results you expect. 

Today’s compensation trends are more dynamic than ever. 94% of sales professionals reported that the most important element of their compensation plan is their base salary. Companies must utilize data and survey tools to help ensure that the price they offered is the correct price.  

6. The Selection Process 

Once you have planned an effective hiring strategy that aligns with your company’s goals and objectives, it’s all about hiring the right rep. The interviewing process is key in getting a better overall picture of the candidate. However, there is only a 14% correlation between the interview predictions and job success. 

In order to select the best sales rep, it is important to observe recruits and their relevant job behaviors. This may include observations of stimulations or role-plays, where you can observe a candidate’s motivation and preparation skills. To help guide you in your selection process, it is also important to take into consideration personal characteristics that will differentiate and great salesperson from an average salesperson. 

Best qualities to look for: 

  • Good customer service 
  • Negotiation skills
  • Communication skills 
  • Time management skills
  • Good listeners 
  • Humble 
  • Passionate 
  • Coachable 
  • Goal driven 
  • Attitude! 

Smart sales managers are always building relationships with qualified potential recruits before they are ready to hire. This “always be recruiting” environment creates a constant and predictable flow of strong candidates to fulfill turnover.  

Is your company always recruiting? The time to start looking is now.  

What other tips have you found useful in your hiring process?