7 steps to hiring the best salespeople

Top 5 tips to improve employee retention From the boat to the boardroom

To reach your sales revenue goals, you need to recruit and retain high performing salespeople who can thrive in today’s demanding and complex sales environment.

With recruitment increasingly driven by the candidate rather than the company, recruitment best practices have shifted in focus with candidate attraction a priority, alongside selection and appointment. 

So how can you optimise your sales recruitment strategy and ensure you’re hiring the best people who can hit the ground running to help you achieve those all-important sales targets?

Step 1: Identify

It may sound obvious, but the first step is to work out what you’re actually looking for in your candidates. There are those standard areas to focus on such as years of sales experience, education or maybe knowledge of specific sales methodologies, but have you also thought about soft skills?

At this stage, you should be identifying the behavioural requirements that will help a person thrive in your specific sales environment. By setting this template, you will begin to shape what the ideal candidate looks like, putting you in a powerful position to make clear decisions on who you want to shortlist – even if they don’t meet your other criteria!

Using an easy-to-use benchmarking tool like Thomas Job will enable you to build an ideal behavioural profile which you can match your candidates to, and then determine who you want to progress through to the next stage of your recruitment process.

Step 2: Attract

You need to ask yourself these questions (and be honest!):

  • Why would someone want to work for you, your company and your sales environment?
  • What are you best at and/or what do you do differently to your competitors?
  • What are the development opportunities?
  • How quickly is the company growing?

Just remember that every company claims to have that dynamic work culture and offer the best remuneration and benefits, so you need to truly establish what makes you an employer of choice. If you don’t know these answers, ask your sales team and other teams in the business.

Step 3: Advertising

Now it’s time to get the word out there! Are you going to post on job boards and if so which ones? If you’re going to use LinkedIn and other online sources, write an advert that will appeal to your target audience. Salespeople typically like something short and to the point. Keep thinking from the candidate’s side – “what’s in it for me?”

Recruitment agencies are a great way to find someone quickly, or if you’re looking for more experienced hires, but there will be an associated cost so make sure you provide them with as much detail on what exactly you’re looking for to help them in their search. If you are using an agency, use a sales specialist and ask for recommendations from people you trust.

Of course, the other method of recruiting is word of mouth – and it’s free! So, have you asked your current sales team if they know anyone? Ask them and reward them for helping you find good people!

Step 4: Interviewing

Aim for a maximum of 2 face-to-face interviews - I would also suggest a quick call. Salespeople are going to be pretty good at selling themselves (or they should be). Start by spending the first 5 minutes or so having a general conversation with the candidate - find out a little bit more about them. Then ask them about their current role and work back chronologically, trying to find out:

  • What they sold? Who did they sell to?
  • What were their targets?
  • How did they hit their targets?
  • What was their biggest deal? What did they do to win the deal?
  • What’s their sales process?
  • What internal support did they have? (Internal Sales, Sales Support, Marketing)
  • Where else are they interviewing and for which companies?

Step 5: Evaluating

How do you evaluate candidates? Do you use gut feel, or maybe past performance? I would recommend thinking about how the person comes across. Will your customers like them? How much do they want the job? Personally, I want people that learn quickly and that are willing to work hard.

The two Thomas tools I use all the time and recommend to sales leaders to help them make better, more confident recruitment decisions assess behaviour and speed of learning. The output from these assessments is imperative in getting a true understanding of a person before you make any hiring decisions.

The Personal Profile Analysis (PPA) is a behavioural assessment that gives you comprehensive insight into how salespeople behave in the workplace. It provides a profile on a person’s strengths and limitations, their sales style, preferred method of communication and how they react under pressure – all of which are vital information you need to know to ensure you can predict how candidates will perform in your sales team.

The General Intelligence Assessment (GIA) measures a person’s cognitive horsepower and provides an accurate prediction of the time it will take someone to get to grips with a new role, skill or process. The GIA provides context around a person’s ability to think on their feet, how adaptable they are, their problem-solving capabilities and how quickly they can hit the ground running – all things that are important to know for a sales role.

Step 6: Offer

You need to act quickly once you’ve made your decision. Good salespeople are highly sought after, and you will lose your preferred candidate to a competitor if you’re too slow to make the offer.

Ensure you can complete the process in a couple of weeks and then a few days for a decision. What package is the candidate looking and what will it take for them to move to your business? If you really like the candidate, go in with a verbal offer and back it up in writing quickly.

Step 7: Onboarding

You’ve gone to a lot of effort to attract the right person so now you need to ensure that you onboard them effectively to give them every chance of success. How are you going to manage your new employee to get the best out of them? In which areas will they need support? How will you tailor your style to ensure that you’re communicating effectively with them?

If you already have an onboarding process, make sure it includes identifying how that candidate works best and what challenges they will have adapting to your organisation. Make sure they have an environment that suits them. Are they fast paced? Give them room to run. Do they need to understand everything in detail and write it down? Partner them up with someone who wants to nurture that.

The Thomas PPA assessment you used earlier on in the recruitment process includes an Onboarding report option which provides you with guidance on how to behaviourally approach your new sales starters to ensure you can quickly maximise their potential. It even includes suggestions on how to approach working with them and initial development ideas.

If you would like to find out more about how we can help you recruit and onboard more successful salespeople, fill out the form below and a member of the team will be in touch.

Greetje Brosens

Greetje Brosens

As Chief Sales Officer, Greetje is responsible for the pricing and sales processes at Thomas International to accelerate business growth on a global scale.