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Recruiting Salespeople – How To Get It Right!

Recruiting Salespeople – How To Get It Right!

Many companies are reliant on salespeople, but getting recruitment right can be tricky and mistakes can be costly.

One thing for certain is that you want to recruit the very best candidate for your vacancy. To give yourself the best chance of hiring the candidate with the best credentials and with an excellent sales track record, you need to look through the eyes of the candidate to understand what is important to them: that is where we are going to start.

What Sales Candidates Are Looking For

You need to create a great first impression and have a seamless process; build candidate desire and when this is created you need to maintain this through to the job offer stage. To do this, you need to focus on the following elements:

  • Employer Branding and Candidate Experience
  • The Process
  • Competitors
  • Opportunities and Earnings

With sales job advertising, having a cohesive and positive message about the company and the sales position vacancy and the role they are expected to play is vitally important; you need to make sure everyone who is a touch point in the recruitment process is working together to help you recruit this high performing salesperson.

Your Employer Brand

The ‘story’ and information you are sharing about your employer brand matters; before you even know a candidate exists, your reputation, communication and brand will help you engage and recruit the most talented sales person.

Read Why Should SME Build An Employer Brand.

Employer branding is important as candidates are more likely to commit to your company if you look and feel right. Increasing the candidate’s desire leads to a strong employer brand, which in the long run will mean money won’t be the main driver for people wanting to work for your company and this can help you to manage salary costs across the business.

The Interview Stage

In the interview stages, sharing history about the company and telling the story is important but the vision for the company & the role this salesperson is expected to play are significant contributing factors that will influence the candidate’s thoughts on whether this job is right for them.

Visit our interviews hub for vital employer resources and advice.

Include information on your successful salespeople and why there were successful. Outline why others have failed, but don’t dwell on unsuccessful people. Be sure that early in the process you don’t give too much away as you’ll want to dig deeper into their skills and suitability for the position later in the process – you don’t want them tailoring their answers just to please you.

With more people wanting to join your company, you’ll decrease the number of rejected offers. By recruiting successfully first time, you won’t have to start the recruitment process again!

Review And Agree Processes

Having understood the message that you want to share about the brand and how you want to be perceived, you now need to consider the position.

What skills are required, what experience must the person have, what salary is competitive, what targets will be in place, what support will you provide, what tools will they need, how much it is going to cost, do you have the budget and can you meet their potential demands and create an environment for success?

When all of this is considered, you can start to write a job description, consider the process and how you will generate candidates.

Before writing a job description, you need to know what your peers want from this salesperson; it is important to bring them into the process at the start and collectively assess what each person’s expectations are.

Get started with a sales job description template.

Collectively research the brands you admire (these may be competitors). Look at their job descriptions; take the best from all of them and together with your unique knowledge of your company and brand message, give it flair and individuality.

The hiring process can be the first impression a candidate has of your company.

Map out what stages are required, who is going to be involved, what each person’s involvement is going to be, how many candidates you’ll want to interview, how you intend to search the market, what channels you’ll use and what you need to pay.


If this salesperson is any good, he or she will have lots of job opportunities and offers to consider, so they will want to know why they should choose your company over others in your market. Being able to brief the candidate on why your company is favourable when compared to your competitors is important – it is part of ‘telling the story’.

Be sure not to push; sell your opportunity & be measured with how you present this information.  When doing this, consider your company culture, your products, clients you currently have, current employees, cost of services, how your product outperforms your rivals, the company’s vision for the future and what positive influence this person can have.

Writing a job description?

We have produced a template to help you create the perfect job profile. We can also send you job descriptions, just enter the job title required and we will share.

What would you like?

Opportunities And Earnings

Like many people, salespeople are ambitious and they may wish to go into sales management or progress their career further.

Whilst in some ways this ambition is admirable, and it’s great to know that on the surface you are speaking with someone who is driven and focused, you should explore this further.

Many sales directors don’t actively sell – often they’re managing people. If this person wants to be a sales director, then what skills do they have to be successful in this role, why do they feel that they can apply themselves to this type of position and what is their perception of a good sales director.

View our management job description templates.

Whilst this may be a distraction, it can be telling and help you decide if this person is right for your company and your immediate need.

Many sales directors will earn a performance bonus which can be less than the successful salespeople who work for you.

If you discover this, does it, therefore, mean that the candidate doesn’t like sales? Are they really motivated? Are their best days behind them? All are rather cynical points but address them now as it will be easier when they are a candidate rather than an employee who is working for you.

All said, you need to sell the vision and the opportunities within the company. Salespeople need to be motivated, so spend time investigating this; push them on previous career moves and go into specific detail to help you understand the person and what inspires them.

Having researched the requirement, the industry and your competitors, you will now understand financially what it takes to recruit the sales candidates you are targeting.

One of the most important factors can be getting the balance right between paying an attractive salary and compelling commissions. Here, learn about the applicants and get insight into their motivation. It is important you understand what they have earned previously and whether they can substantiate that.

It is all very well having had the opportunity to earn £100k commission in previous positions but if the candidate has only ever achieved 20% of that target then something is very wrong. It will give you the chance to probe further to understand more about the candidate and their suitability for your company.

You may learn that they had to share commissions and if this is the case you need to understand what their involvement was; does it meet your criteria?

It should tell you more about their skills and possibly give them the chance to speak about their strengths or weaknesses in more detail.

You may learn that they aren’t great at winning new clients, or that they are better at account management. It might be that they aren’t a great closer but have excellent deal-pursuit skills or that their strength is in solution selling or shaping the vision.

Having had a thorough process, and if you have created a strong employer brand with great candidate experience, if your processes were clear and each person played their role, you will have built high-interest levels around your company and securing the candidates you want won’t necessarily be just about paying the most money.

If you have pitched the company favourably, whilst the candidate might previously have been interested in your competitors, you should have created enough desire for them to want to work for your company.

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