Hiring the RIGHT Salesperson – Part 2

There’s much more to hiring a sales professional than finding someone who can sell your product or service. Making a mistake in this important position will come at a cost of more than $100,000!

Several weeks ago I presented some ideas on How to Hire the Right Sales Talent.  Based on reader feedback I’m providing more thoughts on this topic, which can easily be applied to hiring for ANY position.  In my earlier we answered two important questions:

  1. What are the top four mistakes made when hiring salespeople?
  2. What is the real cost of making a poor hiring decision?

In this Part 2 follow-up to Hiring the Right Sales Talent Part 1, we’ll explore the answers to several more burning questions.

Question 3: What are Seven Planning Essentials to Assure the Right Salesperson is Hired?  Planning is defined as the thinking that precedes the work.  Here are seven planning guidelines which the most successful hiring managers practice:  

  1. Never Hire From a Position of Desperation. Desperate situations often make people do desperate things, and this is certainly true when it comes to hiring. The more desperate you are to fill an opening the more you are tricked into believing that a mediocre candidate will become a good performer. To avoid being in a situation where you are desperate to fill an opening, your recruitment must begin when you don’t have an opening to fill.  In essence, collect candidates who are ready to step in when you do have an opening. 
  2. Spec an “Ideal Candidate” Based on What is to be Sold. Every sales hire will have a certain set of core talents, skills, knowledge, and experience common to all good performers.  A second set of talents, skills, knowledge, and experience tare those that pertain specifically to the particular products and services to be sold.
  3. Determine Precisely How You’ll Measure Candidates Against Your Ideal Candidate. In each talent, skill, knowledge, and experience criteria you establish in guideline 2 above, determine ahead of time how you will identify and evaluate them, whether during an interview, using an assessment, or validating their presence (or absence) in a reference check. 
  4. Figure Out Where You’ll Search for The Ideal Candidate. Once you specify what your ideal candidate looks like, decide where you are most likely to find him/her. On social media (and on which sites)?  Through a search firm? Through an industry association or trade show?  In each case you’ll need to develop a strategy matched to the search method.
  5. Lay Out Your Process But be Flexible. While it is likely that you’ll find qualified candidates using the methods you identified in guideline 4 above, sometimes the ideal candidate will surface in a different way.  It could be as a result of a recommendation from someone you know and trust, or the ideal candidate happens to be a current customer who is thinking about making a career change.  Have a plan…but be flexible to capitalize on opportunities that present themselves.     
  6. Have Your Compensation Plan Already Laid Out. Candidates need to be able to look at a plan along with examples illustrating how the compensation is earned and paid.  It should be presented in writing to the candidates in whom you are most interested. 
  7. Have Your Onboarding Plan Template Already Built. A well-designed, written onboarding plan tells candidates that your company is committed to their onboarding.  It should detail his or her first 90 days on the job.

Question 4: What Are the Top Job-Specific Factors That Affect Hiring Requirements? 

  1. What are your non-negotiables (versus your nice-to-haves)? It will be rare to find someone who possesses everything you might identify as a hiring factor.  Pre-determine the must-have skills, education, and experience factors.  Those take priority over nice-to-have skills, education, and experience factors.
  2. The more technical your solution, the more important it will be to find salespeople who can express solutions in the buyer’s language. While some customers can be technical, the ability to make complex things seem simple is the hallmark of a sales professional who is able to sell to people of all technical levels.
  3. Are there any channel-specific skills, education, or certifications required? There is a different set of skills, knowledge, and certifications required for people selling fleet services as opposed to commercial real estate.  Identifying what is necessary (versus nice-to-have) is essential when posting the job, interviewing, and evaluating which candidate to hire.  Don’t overlook certifications associated with your target markets as they add credibility to a salesperson.
  4. How do candidates fare in the BIG THREE HIRING FACTORS? You must get all three of these factors correct in order to have a successful hiring outcome.
    1. Can the candidate DO the job? This is a critical question – consider passing on any candidate you are not sure of answering this question with a strong YES!
    2. Will the candidate LOVE TH­IS job? There are far too many options for work out there to stay in a job you do not love.  When you love what you do, it is no longer “work.”
    3. Will the candidate FIT the job? The two areas of fit are culture and teamCulture is “the way things get done here.”  If someone is a poor fit for your culture, they will have a low likelihood of succeeding.  Team fit is how well the candidate would be able to work with the team. The issue of FIT is one of the most important predictors of success in any person added to your staff.

Bottom Line.  In this and Past 1 you’ve been presented with four questions that must be answered if you want to make consistently good hiring decisions:

  1. What are the top four mistakes made when hiring salespeople?
  2. What is the real cost of making a poor hiring decision?
  3. What are the planning essentials you must get right at the start of the hiring process?
  4. What are the top job-specific factors that must be considered when hiring?

The preceding was created from our webinar, Hiring the Right Salesperson, which is part of Boyer Management Group’s B2B Sales Essentials™ program, named a multiyear Top Sales Training Program.  

I love working with people and organizations who want to improve their effectiveness! Here are several outstanding resources that can help you and your organization to go to the next level:

  • Improving your (or your team’s) management and leadership skills: Leading Through People™. This acclaimed program equips participants in thousands of current and emerging best practices of leadership, hiring, and talent development.
  • Raising your (or your team’s) selling and sales management effectiveness: B2B Sales Essentials™ (among the 30-plus courses we offer are ones on selling with emotional intelligence and storyselling!)
  • Conducting a more effective job search: Get a Better Job Faster™

I help leaders and aspiring leaders improve their performance and acumen, and sales and marketing professionals to become more productive and effective. I also work with some of the world’s top employers by helping them get the most out of their talented people. My company’s extensive leadership development course catalog provides effective skills-building for everyone in the organization, from the new / developing leader to the seasoned C-level executive. We develop sales teams with our highly regarded B2B Sales Essentials™ and B2C Sales Essentials™ tailored sales curriculum. My company’s coaching programs produce significant results in compressed periods of time. To find out more, please visit us at www.boyermanagement.com, email us at info@boyermanagement.com, or call us at 215-942-0982.


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