Hiring a Sales Representative: Part 1

Hiring a sales representative

Table of Contents

Hiring a sales rep can be one of the most frustrating exercises for a business.

Most sales people will do their best selling at the interview, but it’s not until after you hire them that you realise they were not the star performer you were expecting.

So how do you reduce the risk of making a costly hiring mistake? This can be done by being very clear on who you are looking for, and tightening up on the entire process from attracting, to selection and onboarding. 

1. Reach for the stars

Dream up the best sales rep you could think of to walk through your door. What qualities and skill base do they have? Which industries have they had experience in and is it imperative that they know the industry your business is in? What kind of sales process have they worked with in the past? Do they need to know how to cold call, or present to clients face to face? Understand your sales cycle, price points, competition and whether you need a key account manager or a hunter.

If you make sure you ask yourself all of these questions before going to market, it is going to make it a lot easier to know what it actually is you are looking for – instead of just saying ‘I need a new sales rep’.

You also need to remember that often the very best sales reps are not looking for another job as they are too busy selling. Use your networks and shoulder tap to open up the potential candidate pool.

2. Be specific in the job advert

You have to be more specific than just saying a person needs to be ‘motivated’ and ‘confident’ – these are very hard attributes to get tangible evidence of and often everyone has this view of themselves, whether it is actually true or not!

List the top duties they will be doing on a daily basis, what you will be expecting from the successful candidate and also exactly what you can offer them in return.

You need to stand out as well, so if you put a generic description into your job ad, the same as all the other 1,224* of them on Seek, then you probably won’t attract the real awesome sales reps who are being very specific about what they are looking for.

According to, 42 per cent of traffic to the site now comes from mobile devices (smart phone or tablet), so it is best to format your job ad specifically for mobile.

You should use bold headings, bullet points and, as a lot of job seekers are using the search box, make sure your job titles are simple and reflect what your target candidates are looking for. 

 *The number of sales roles listed on as on the 14th of April 2015.

3. Example of an average sales rep job ad: 

We are looking for a dynamic person who can demonstrate they are motivated to promote and sell our products.

Excellent customer service is essential as well as selling experience. 

We will provide a company car and phone. 

You need to have;
Proven successful selling experience
Be customer service driven
Computer literacy
Can work autonomously
A full NZ drivers license
Experience selling to a wide variety of clients

We are a great company to work for, offering a good salary package and training will be provided. Some clients will be inbound, but you will also need to do your own business development.

If you believe you have what it takes and want to be part of a thriving company please apply now.

So what’s wrong with it? A common mistake people make when writing job adverts is that it ends up looking like a job description, and that’s not the aim. The ad above is also rather vague, using words that almost every other sales job ad does. It doesn’t really provide any information that a standout sales candidate would be looking for either – like how the commission structure works, what will be expected from them and the company culture. 

Example of a stand-out sales rep job ad:

Name of your company

Job title plus OTE (plus other benefits, e.g. car)

If you are serious about selling, and don’t want to achieve just average results, then perhaps we are who you’re looking for.

We are a plastic manufacturing company, with more than 100 employees, looking for a sales rep to join our sales team of five.

You need to have:

  • More than three years in a B2B selling environment
  • Have managed more than 10 medium to large clients
  • Experience creating an average of five new sales-qualified leads a month

While our team works independently and autonomously, we have weekly meetings, run by the sales manager, to discuss results, challenges and successes.

We can offer a base salary of $50,000 as well as a commission structure that was implemented in conjunction with input from our sales reps – OTE $80k. We also have regular, individual training schedules in place to assist with ongoing development.

We are keen to hear from individuals who can take us through a step-by-step sales process, can provide us with real-life examples of their success in sales and is able to detail how they convert leads into clients.

We know you have a lot of options when it comes to a new job in sales, but we think that our documented net projected growth (25 per cent over the next three years) means it is an exciting time to be a part of our team. We are a company where good results are championed, problems are faced head-on and structure is in place to help with success and achievement.

Include contact details, use video if possible, and refer candidates to your website.

So what’s right with it? The ad above is detailed, informative and very clear about who the company is looking for and what they expect from a candidate. This makes it easier for an individual to quantify whether they are actually suitable for the role and if they are interested in working for your company.

This blog post is part of a two-part series. You can read Part 2 Here.


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