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The Ultimate Step-by-Step Guide to Sales Recruitment

Hiring the right salespeople is an essential part of running a successful business. You need great salespeople to produce consistent sales and grow revenue. 

Sales recruitment is essential for hiring salespeople, and for dealing with turnover. Every business loses salespeople, so you need a sales recruitment process to maintain an effective sales team.

It’s time to spice up your sales recruitment and build a world-class sales team. Follow the steps below to solidify your sales hiring process.

1. Create a salesperson persona

You can hire the best salesperson. But what you actually need to do is hire the right salesperson.

You probably have a buyer persona to help you target the right prospects. You should also create a salesperson persona. This approach will enable you to target the person with the ideal personality, skills, and experience for your sales team.

Use your best salespeople to create a persona. Make a list of their characteristics, such as:

  • Personality traits

  • Selling style

  • Background and experience

  • Training and education

  • Motivations

Personality is subjective. Different types of people sell in different ways. What matters is whether their personality will work with your sales team and your business.

Consider the sales function and duties when creating a salesperson persona. Different positions (e.g., account executives, business development reps) will perform different tasks and require different characteristics. 

For example, Matthew Roberts is the Director of Sales Development at Chili Piper. He has an eclectic background across a number of industries. His diverse experience and personality make him an ideal salesperson based on Chili Piper’s needs and culture.

In this persona, make sure to consider which markets they’ll work in, the products or services they’ll sell, the types of customers they’ll be reaching out to, and so on. These are key to determining what types of salespeople to target.

Factor in the ideal salary for the role. The salary will depend on your budget, the going rate, revenues generated by the role, and other factors. 

Salary includes more than money. Consider benefits and other forms of compensation. Sales reps will want to know this information, and it will affect who you can hire. 

2. Write a Job Description

You’ve created the ideal salesperson persona. Now it’s time to create and post a job description to help find the ideal person.

Write a job description that:

  • Describes the role as accurately as possible

  • Explains why they should come to work with your company

A well-written, accurate job description will affect the quality and quantity of candidates you get for the salesperson position. 

Follow these tips to write a great job posting.

Do...

  • Briefly describe the typical day and duties of a salesperson
  • Describe your culture, working structure, and benefits of working with your organization
  • Be specific about onboarding and how they will begin working with your organization
  • Target the type of salesperson you want, identifying necessary and bonus characteristics

 

Do not...
  • Copy and paste job descriptions from other companies’ postings
  • Create a list of unrealistic requirements
  • Be vague about job duties and pay structure
  • Mislead potential applicants about the role
  • Omit the reasons why they should work for your organization
 

3. Start Searching for the Ideal Salesperson

It’s time to start the salesperson search.

The easiest thing to do is to post your job description on all the job boards. This approach will provide a lot of potential candidates.

But it’s not necessarily the most effective strategy. Consider a combined narrow and wide sales recruitment approach. 

Try this seven-pronged strategy to finding the right sales candidates:

  1. Post on the popular job boards (e.g., Indeed, Monster, Glassdoor) to attract more entry-level salespeople. 

  2. Post on niche job boards that cater to specific industries and sales functions.

  3. Search for and reach out to candidates who match your ideal profile on LinkedIn. 

  4. Post on your social media accounts.

  5. Ask employees, industry contacts, and other people in your network for referrals to people who would make a good fit.

  6. Ask salespeople to network with other salespeople and encourage the “best” ones to consider joining your organization.

  7. Hire professional recruiters to do the work for you.

LinkedIn gives you access to thousands of potential candidates for your sales positions, as you can post jobs and search for salespeople.

The different ways to recruit will have different results. Test each option and stick with the ones that work best for you.

4. Pre-screen Applicants

Once you start getting resumes and applications, you can start the pre-screening process. This will help to filter out unqualified candidates, as well as ones who don’t quite fit your needs.

You can use either (or both) phone/video screening interviews or written tests and assessments. 

Phone/video screening interviews will let you speak (and possibly see) the prospective hire, which will enable you to assess how they speak, how they react to different situations, and how they build rapport. These are all essential skills for salespeople.

Written tests and assessments enable you to test their writing skills, problem-solving skills, personality fit, and desire to work for your organization. You can see how they address real-world situations and answer open-ended questions.

The tests will tell you a lot about the candidates and help you to narrow down who you will interview.

The Sales Demo: Adding a Layer to Pre-screening

This step can occur either during pre-screening or during the interview. Doing the sales demo at this stage will help filter out more candidates before getting to the interview. It also allows you to evaluate this skill, and lets the candidate focus on giving their best effort.

Salespeople must usually present your products or services to prospects, either in person or via video conferencing. It’s a teachable skill but if you’re hiring an experienced salesperson, they should know how to do it.

Make the sales demo realistic. Have the candidate demonstrate a product or service your organization would purchase, with you as the buyer. Alternatively, they could demonstrate your company’s product or service to you as one of your customers.

Give the applicant enough time to prepare the sales demo, and ask them to do what they would normally do for a sales meeting. 

The applicant should do most or all of the following:

  • Send a meeting invite with all required details

  • Confirm the meeting via email or automatic reminder

  • Set the agenda at the beginning of the meeting

  • Demonstrate how much they know about you and the business

  • Ask you questions to make sure you are following the conversation

  • Ask probing questions about your needs and issues

  • Ask follow-up questions to see if you need more information

  • Attempt to identify and address objections

  • Show ability to handle objections

  • Provide personalized content for use case

  • Close the meeting in a strong and confident way

  • Send a follow-up email after the demo with their proposal

For example, the salesperson can use Chili Piper’s Instant Booker to set up and book the meeting to do the sales demo. It allows them to schedule the meeting with one click, send automated reminders, and more.

5. Conduct the Interview

It’s time to interview the candidates who made it through the pre-screening process. If you didn’t get them to do a sales demo, you’ll want to do it now (see previous section).

The best way to assess candidates is to conduct a structured, standardized interview. This will make sure you evaluate and compare each candidate equally and fairly, and remove as much bias as possible from the interview process.

The interview process involves using:

  • The same group of questions for every interview

  • A scorecard to grade the applicant’s answers

The best interview questions will match the requirements for the sales position and the type of candidate you’re interviewing (e.g., entry-level vs. experienced). Use a mix of hypothetical and real-world questions to evaluate their skills and knowledge.

Interview questions should cover topics such as:

  • Personality and behavior

  • Sales skills

  • Knowledge and expertise

  • Practical experience

  • Motivations

  • Dealing with hypothetical situations 

Use the scorecard to rate the applicant’s answers as compared to what your best sales reps would say for the same questions. Your scoring system will depend on what works for you, but it should enable you to compare different applicants.

When you summarize the scorecard, you should get a definitive yes or no answer, with some room for scores that can go either way.

You should also be prepared to answer the applicant’s questions about the position and your organization. If the applicant is truly interested in the role, they will ask questions about various topics, including:

  • Sales process

  • Onboarding and training

  • The first few days, weeks, and months (especially for remote sales teams)

  • Working and being managed remotely

  • Tools and technologies

  • Corporate culture

  • Salary and commission structure

  • Advancement opportunities

  • Measurement of sales metrics

  • Challenges and solutions

6. Make the Offer

After you’ve done the interviews and scored the applicants, sit down with all the stakeholders to decide on who to hire. 

This is an important part of the sales recruitment process. It’s costly (in terms of both time and money) to hire and train new salespeople. If you make the wrong choice, you’ll have to fire them and start the process all over again.

Listen to everyone’s feedback on the applicants and then make a decision. Pay attention to any strong “No” votes, as one person could have a different perspective than the rest of the people doing the evaluations.

Once you’ve decided on an applicant, make the offer by phone or email. If the applicant accepts the offer, send a formal offer letter.

Give the applicant enough time to make a decision, but set a reasonable time limit. Answer any questions to help them make the decision.

Salespeople are experienced in negotiation, so they might want to negotiate the posted salary and benefits. That decision is up to you, and will depend on your sales team’s structure and other factors.

Notify the applicants who you did not hire. Some might have fallen slightly short in scoring but might still be viable candidates in the future. Let them know they are under consideration for future sales positions, when they eventually open up.

Stay in touch with the highest-rated sales candidates, as you may want to hire them down the road. It’s good practice to maintain positive relationships with salespeople, as you might be dealing with them in the future.

Use Chili Piper’s Instant Booker to instantly update your calendar and schedule meetings with sales reps you want to stay in touch with in the future.

7. Evaluate, Improve, and Repeat

The sales recruitment process is not static. It will and should change over time, hopefully for the better.

Track your hiring results. Ask new applicants for feedback on the sales recruitment process. Evaluate what works and what doesn’t; keep those parts that work well and discard or improve what doesn’t.

Some recruitment channels might work better than others, so focus your efforts on the ones that provide the best candidates. If you’re getting a good batch of sales reps from one channel, you can reduce or eliminate the need to work with recruitment firms and other channels.

Look for ways to implement technology into reducing delays in the process. Evaluate your onboarding materials and other resources to see what needs to be updated.

Keep measuring and improving your sales recruitment efforts over time. You’ll get better results and better salespeople as a result.

About the Author

David Gargaro has more than 20 years of experience as a content writer and copy editor. His content has appeared in Business.com, ITPro.com, RHB Magazine, Advisors Magazine, and more. In his free time, he enjoys reading, catching up on TV shows and movies, watching hockey, and playing with his daughter.

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