Why It’s Crucial to Hire the Right Salespeople

Hiring your first salesperson is a great milestone for any business. It is also nerve-wracking. You are just not sure if this person will have the same passion and drive you to have for the business and the product. It’s a leap of faith in many ways.

While the anxiety improves with more sales representatives you hire, the cost of a bad hire does not. So, how do you avoid hiring someone who doesn’t fit your culture and brand?

You should hire your sales reps in the same way you would attract and convert your best customers. The process goes like this:

  • You take the time to look for high-quality leads,
  • You run those leads through a nurturing system to warm them up, separating suspects from genuine prospects,
  • Once they’re ready, you pitch those prospects and nurture them into loyal customers.

There is no place for chance in this process. It is carefully designed to weed out leads that don’t fit your buyer personas. These are called suspects – leads that lack the means and who have no real interest in what you are selling!

Why would you hire salespeople differently?  Hiring salespeople who don’t have a passion or interest in sales, beyond the paycheck, of course! 

Before we get too far, we thought it would be helpful for you to grab this example sales rep hiring template (no email required!).

The turnover cost of sales reps, as we have said, is quite high. It is approximated that it costs 1.5-2 times the worker’s pay to replace one employee. The financial load varies according to a person’s seniority. It costs a minimum of $1,500 per staff for hourly employees.

In this post, we’ll discuss the similarities between account-based management as a sales strategy and the ideal hiring process for many sales organizations.

How to Hire a Salesperson That Will Thrive and Succeed

By far and away the best way to hire salespeople is to start with a clear statement of what you are looking for in a new salesperson. 

This is particularly important if you are hiring your very first sales rep, a hat you previously wore yourself. Make a bad choice and you could hamstring your whole business, as without enough sales you are going to struggle.

Just as you would look for certain data points to help you identify the right leads to contact, you’ll need to build your a profile of your ideal sales development representative. These should be non-negotiables that every candidate must tick. 

Ask yourself questions like:

  • How much experience does the sales rep need to have?
  • What sort of experience do they need to have?
  • Will they be working with a direct report or self-supervising?
  • Is this a field or internal sales role?
  • What skills gaps do I need to fill in the sales department?

Put as much time into figuring out your ideal sales rep as you would in developing a buyer persona.


You want people who are going to grow your sales, nothing less. They’ll be tweaking your buyer personas so you should constantly be tweaking their job descriptions and requirements.

With that in mind, you need to draft your sales rep job description:

How to Write a Good Sales Rep Job Description

Once you have an idea of the person you want around Monday-Friday, it’s time to start writing the copy that will draw the right people to apply and send away all the others.

That’s right, just like in your funnel, there are suspect and prospective hires. The same applies when hiring salespeople. So to avoid wasting time interviewing people who aren’t a fit you must have a clear set of requirements in your sales rep job description.

A great job description for a sales rep lists the following in brief but clear bullet points:

  • Objectives for the sales rep role,
  • Responsibilities for the role,
  • Required skills and qualifications,
  • Preferred skills and qualifications.

Your sales rep vacancy advert should also include this key information. This description sets clear expectations for potential candidates and guides the candidate selection process so only people who meet a specific profile will be invited for an interview.

The sales rep’s job candidate selection and interview are stressful and take a lot of time. So you don’t want to end up with 80 out of 100 respondents who don’t have what you are looking for. So make sure the job description is clear on the skills and qualities you are looking for.

At the same time, you don’t want to end up with a narrow pool of candidates to choose from. So in order to encourage everyone who should apply to do so, you’ll want to add a section on benefits and explain them clearly.

The best way to do this is to make the benefits worthwhile. You’re not going to attract the best talent unless you have perks above and beyond those at a typical office job. At the same time, don’t overpromise. Offer only what you can manage with your existing budget.

Example salesperson job description: LeadFuze

Since we’re in the software and sales business, we try to offer benefits that draw in the right people for the job. Some of those benefits for full-timers include:

  • 3 weeks of vacation in the first year and 4 weeks starting in year two.
  • An office stocked with snacks and drinks.
  • Company-sponsored events and travel.
  • Fast, performance-based career progression.
  • And a list of other stuff.

But that’s at the bottom of the page.

To get there, you have to go through several sections about who we are at LeadFuze, and then we start laying out who’s right for the job.

How to Hire a Salesperson

These are the requirements for a specific role at LeadFuze. Even still, before we get to the perks, we take prospective candidates through another round of proofing based on the character traits we want in our company:How to Hire a Salesperson

These are the requirements for a specific role at LeadFuze. Even still, before we get to the perks, we take prospective candidates through another round of proofing based on the character traits we want in our company:

At this point, you’re either a good candidate who is ready to apply or a person who’s lying (to themselves or us).

HubSpot goes deep on the job description subject, specifically for sales managers (but you can tweak it). There is even a template to download. Check it out here.

Don’t Discriminate.

The obvious difference between buyer personas and having an ideal sales rep in mind is the demographics that you should avoid altogether.

You don’t want “skews male” on the careers page on your site (or anything else that you should discriminate against). As a guide, check Equal Employment Opportunity Council (EEOC) “prohibited practices.”

Where to Find Good Salespeople to Hire

Once you have your sales rep job description and have drafted the vacancy ad off of it, it’s time to use your sales tactics again to find the right candidates.

These days there are many places you can post job ads online, and we’ll go over a couple of the best places. But why not try to build your own list of “leads”? 

Remember the best salespeople are likely already employed elsewhere and may not be actively trawling job boards for open sales rep jobs. So you may need to do some cold outreach of sorts to reach them.

A great place to start is the salespeople that have impressed you. We are constantly being sold in today’s society. Think about the last product you bought for your business or yourself. 

Can you think of those salespeople who made you stop and think? How about the ones that got to your pocketbook? 

If they have the industry experience you are looking for, find them. Pitch them.

Can’t think of any? Well, there are a few good places to post a job and be inundated with potential candidates.

  1. Inbound.org

This site is for practitioners of inbound marketing. It has a very active jobs page that is full of open marketing and sales jobs. 

The site is visited by people who have a sound understanding of marketing and sales. It’s perfect for tech and software, but anyone could probably find good sales reps there.

2. ZipRecruiter.com

1 million employers have used ZipRecruiter to find and hire people for their organizations. It’s an alternative to the clunky Monster and CareerBuilder options of old. Pretty much any job from any industry can go on here.

3. Angel.co

If you’re in the software space (like us) or a SaaS startup, Angel is a great place to find industry-specific talent. There are about 24,000 companies actively looking, but the talent comes to speak with founders directly. 

There are no recruiters allowed on the platform. So if you run a startup, you want to have a presence there. The sales reps who will pitch you are likely to be very passionate about your industry.

. Indeed.com

Indeed is another great option for finding sales reps. While it posts all sorts of jobs, what I like

Indeed is another great option for finding sales reps. While it posts all sorts of jobs, what I like about the platform are the tools it has for crafting and updating your resume. It also sends email alerts for new jobs that meet a jobseeker’s criteria.

Once you apply for a job, you can periodically log into your account to check the progress of your application. It will tell you how many people have applied and the employer’s response rate. All this helps candidates assess their chances. 

Qualities to Look for When Hiring a Salesperson?

The moment you post your sales rep job advert, expect to start seeing responses in your email inbox. If you posted in more than one place, you could be inundated with applications, so budget enough time for this part of the sales rep hiring process.

But before you select candidates and invite them for interviews, you want to have a list of attributes to look out for as you review those applications, as well as what you should expect to see in those you will invite for interviews.

Look for things like:

1 High energy level

Quantity is critical for a successful salesperson. Given two salespeople with comparable abilities, experience, intellect, industry knowledge, and so on, the one who performs harder will succeed.

In sales, hard labor is frequently characterized by the quantity of effort expended. There is no alternative for self-discipline and work ethic.

Oftentimes, the difference between a good and failed salesperson comes down to the number of sales attempts. And the quality of character that underpins all of this hard labor, all of these large-scale endeavors, is the high level of energy.

Each of us has a unique metabolic and physiological makeup. While some of us are satisfied lounging about on Sunday afternoons watching football on television, others may be out painting, running, or golfing. 

The distinction is in the level of energy. Some of us simply have an abundance of energy to expend. And that enthusiasm frequently manifests itself in our job.

The high-energy individual will plan a morning meeting at 7:30 in the morning and a call at 4:30 p.m. on the very same day. While the guy with little energy will place his first call at 8:45, his last at 3:00, and he will not leave the workplace until around noon.

A word of advice. It is entirely conceivable for a high-energy individual to channel his or her extra energy into activities aside from his or her job on your behalf.

For instance, one high-energy individual may work 40 hours and then devote another twenty to thirty hours to an extra interest such as coaching children’s athletics or church activities. As a result, that energy might be channeled away from work.

The first step is to identify the high-energy individual. The second stage is to assist him/her in channeling that energy toward productive endeavors.

The most accurate predictor of how many sales calls your potential salesperson will make is to assess his or her current energy level. The greater the individual’s energy level, the more probable he or she will make further sales calls. And, to a certain extent, increased sales calls equate to increased sales.

Tip: A high energy level shows in the candidate’s posture. It shows in how energetically they talk. You will see it in their confidence. In an application, watch for active language. 

A person who uses passive language may also be passive in person (or it could just be their poor writing skills – something that also does reflect well on their ability to close sales).

2 Experience

Sales expertise is required to boost your success rates. If you hire a salesperson with experience, you know they will hit the ground running. And while it is also good to hire based on potential, there are sales jobs that require experience.

The more prospects a salesperson moves through a sales funnel, the more they have an understanding of what works – the better they get at closing sales.

All the qualities you look for in a sales rep take many sales calls, pitches, and closed sales to build. So experience has to be one of the first things you look for in a new hire. But be sure that the candidate has the right industry experience.

Tip: Even though they have listed their experience on the resume, ask the candidate to explain it to you. You want to check how much of that experience they intimately remember. It will tell you how invested they were in those jobs.

3 Rapport-building ability

Rapport fosters trust between a salesman and a client. The more familiar clients are with the rep, the easier it is for them to trust the salesperson. And for that to happen, the salesperson must have well-trained listening skills.

The salesperson needs the prospect to trust them to suggest accurate solutions for them. But you cannot discover the right solutions for the client if you don’t understand their problem. To do so, you need to listen attentively to the prospect.

Before making any judgments, clients must listen to the salesperson’s thoughts and recommendations. They will only do this after you have earned their trust. That trust is built by taking time to listen and understand their challenges. This can help to streamline the bargaining process and increase sales success. 

Tip:  You will know a candidate has good listening skills by how they listen and respond to your questions in the interview. They have the skill if they maintain eye contact, smile, nod, and give auditory signs that they are engaged, like ‘yes’, ‘indeed’, ‘of course’, ‘uhh’ etc.

4 Business acumen

Building trust, developing good communication skills, making wise calls, delivering solutions that directly solve their customers’ challenges, and orchestrating the business outcomes that clients anticipate are all qualities consistent with salespeople that have good business acumen.

Salespeople with great business acumen are emerging as the new dominant stars in the world of business-to-business selling. In part because they understand exactly how to assist clients to achieve success in their businesses. If they can do that for clients, they can do it for the companies they work for.

Tip: To check for business acumen in candidates, ask about their biggest achievements in their sales careers and how those helped the businesses they worked at.

5 Ability to handle rejection

A positive attitude is essential for achieving career growth in sales. Salespeople set the standard for your contact with customers, clients, colleagues, and managers on a daily basis through the attitudes they exhibit.

A positive attitude will encourage everyone with whom salespersons come into contact to want to keep working with you, improving their massive success at all stages.

It takes a lot of work to resolve customer concerns and overcome objections, but this does not imply that these duties are inherently unpleasant or demeaning.

Rather, if salespeople have a good mindset even when presented with challenging situations, they will be able to convert these challenges into success stories by striving for the best favorable result for all parties concerned.

Instead of staying away from the mess, good salespeople back themselves to fix the problem and help the client. In the process, they improve their chances of rescuing the sale.

Tip: Ask candidates how they have dealt with rejection after pitching clients and how they would do it differently today. Ask how those experiences shaped their sales careers and made them what they are today.

6 Polite persistence

Consumers buy personalities first, and then products. 

Essentially, this implies that even if a salesperson is selling an incredible product and the prospect is genuinely interested, they will lose the sale if they are rude and condescending.

So even if the prospect is pushing back on the sale, the salesperson must keep their cool and remain polite. It is the responsibility of all salesmen to do their best at all times, demonstrating civility, attention, and empathy.

Tip: Point out a negative trait you have packed about the client and describe how that might hurt their chances and see if they will get defensive. You want them to acknowledge and explain how they plan to fix it.

7 Other Psychographic Data

Psychographics is a branch of sociology that studies people’s habits, personalities, preferences, and beliefs. It’s used in business to analyze target markets but can also be used in recruitment to assess job candidates. 

By studying a person’s psychographic data, you can surface key insights into how a candidate will work and communicate with others once hired, what values they have, and what motivates them.

It is not sufficient to know which class a person belongs to only on the basis of their visible attributes. Examining a person’s actual behavioral patterns is more educational and enlightening than looking at their past or future intentions.

Psychographics is more than just establishing an excellent model profile. It is the study of what inspires people to behave in particular ways. Take the culture that you currently have or that you would like to create, and the personality and experience of the person you want to hire will start to shine through.

Now that you know what to look for in candidates when hiring a salesperson and have selected a list of those that will move to the next stage, it’s time to interview them:

How to Interview a Salesperson Job Candidate

Before you invite candidates for the face-to-face interview, you want to make a few phone calls to verify the claims they have made on their resume and cover letter. 

Call their previous employers to check if their experience is legitimate. You also want to check their LinkedIn profiles to see what they read and share and what connections they have made. You can tell a lot about a person by scrolling through their LinkedIn timeline.

Once you have the candidate in front of you (or on Skype), you have to qualify them. Coincidentally, this is exactly what a good BDR is going to do once onboard. They are essentially selling themselves to a client (you), so this is a perfect chance to see them in action as a sales rep.

There are a couple of areas that you want to test with your questions—practical things and personality things.

Practical expectations

Your business developers are going to be searching through a lot of lead data, using software and other tools. They’ll also be sending tons of cold emails and making regular phone calls in order to find prospects for sales.

You have to make sure the candidate is up for the day-to-day tasks. Here are a few potential questions to ask and check if the candidate is up to the daily grind of a sales rep:

  • What is your best cold email strategy?
  • How did you find leads in your last position?
  • What CRM are you familiar with, if any?
  • Do you like to talk on the phone regularly?
  • What questions do you ask when qualifying a lead?

Personality attributes 

Sales is a hard job, even for the best reps. Some days are going to draining, so BDRs must expect to take a beating a few times. They are going to get a lot of “NOs.”

What’s worse is that if a lead meets certain requirements, they are whisked off to the sales team for what is hoped to be a quick close. Imagine getting told ‘no’ all day, and then, when you think someone is going to say yes, they are taken away.

The following are questions you can ask to check if a candidate has the resolve to survive tough days on the job:

  • Are you a team player?
  • How do you handle rejection?
  • Why are you in sales in the first place?
  • How do you deal with prolonged closes?
  • How do you deal with rude, aggressive clients?

More generally, you want to ask questions that poke at the person’s preparedness and expectations for the job. It’s crucial that they know enough about your company and the product they will be selling.

Here are other questions you can ask to gauge their preparedness and fit for the new job:

  • What mistakes have you made on a sale before and what did you learn from it?
  • What are your goals for this job and how do you plan to meet your quota?
  • Why do you want to work for this company and why do you think you will succeed here?
  • How can you tell if a lead is not interested and when it’s time to move on to more promising ones?
  • What tools have you used in your previous position?
  • What new skills have you learned recently?

Remember this interview is an opportunity to also check how the candidate will conduct themselves when interviewing actual prospects. You hopefully have analyzed their listening skills. So give them the chance to ask you questions.

You have asked questions to find out if they can satisfy a need you have. They should do the same – ask questions that help them discover if your company is a fit for what they are looking for in an employer. 

They should want to be sure they understand what it is you are looking for and if they can deliver it. The questions they ask should tell you if they truly understand the expectations and demands of this sales role.

If you have attracted the right pool of candidates, vetted them, and asked the right questions, selecting the best out of them should not be too difficult. 

You can take some time to decide on your final pick before making them an offer. But you want to have a few options in case your preferred pick does not accept your last offer. Once a candidate accepts your offer, you can shake on it and start the onboarding process.

Hiring a Salesperson That Will Succeed and Stay Takes An Intentional Process

Hiring a salesperson is an expensive and exhausting exercise that you don’t want to do too often. You want to keep your sales rep turnover low so your BDRs can grow with your company. 

The more experience your salespeople gain selling your product, the better they understand your customers and the more sales they are able to close over time.

Of course, the more often you hire the better you know how to hire a salesperson. But you want to hire to expand your sales team, not to replace reps that have left.


Editors Note:

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Justin McGill
About Author: Justin McGill
This post was generated for LeadFuze and attributed to Justin McGill, the Founder of LeadFuze.