Hiring a Sales Representative: Part 2

Hiring a sales representative

Table of Contents

So you’ve spent time thinking about what kind of sales rep you want to hire, and have put out a job ad to try and find them. Now that you have people applying for the role, it is about getting in touch with the ones who most closely match the description of your dream candidate.

When looking through the CVs of applicants, make sure you check out things like longevity, achievements and specific results in numbers.

It is also imperative that you conduct pre-hire assessments for all of the considered candidates before inviting them in for an interview – this will reveal much more about a person than they would be upfront about sharing with a potential employer.

These assessments help to remove the emotive reasoning we typically use when it comes to hiring people, as well as taking the guess-work out of whether a candidate is adept at selling. It also saves us from focusing time on those who aren’t suitable for the role.

Why wouldn’t you want this kind of valuable insight?  

1. Plan the screening and interview questions

You will have specific information that you need to know about the candidate, so make sure you have questions written down for both stages of the next process getting in touch with them. 

Usually the phone screen is just questions about who they are, what attracted them to apply for the job, and get a feel for their personality/check their communication skills are adequate. Their results from the pre-hire assessment will also be able to tell you a lot about them before you decide to ask them in for an interview.

If you decide you like what you hear, and the pre-hire assessment results were good, invite them in and ask if they could complete a small task. This is an acceptable request and will help you to get a gauge on how they approach the initial sales process.

What should you ask them to do? Check out your website, what you offer, and research a potential new customer lead for you. Then when they come in, do a sales role play scenario to suit your client base.

How quickly do they demonstrate use of a sales process in the role play? Do they; establish rapport, ask good questions, and listen?

Observe whether they have uncovered the following; a compelling reason to buy, who the decision maker is, what the timeline would be, if they react to any objections and do they attempt to close?

Afterwards – how do they respond to feedback from you?  Are they open to learning from constructive criticism or are they making excuses for their performance?

Ensure you use competency-based questions related to the core skills your dream candidate has, as well as framing other interview questions around their results from the pre-hire assessment. 

Again it is about planning these before-hand instead of just ‘winging it’ and going with your gut instinct. Also check their achievements – good sales reps know their numbers.

2. You met them, you liked them, now what?

If you have interviewed five candidates and are interested in two or three, don’t be afraid to ask them to do a little bit  more ‘homework’ for you – this is happening quite a lot now and really helps with getting more of an insight into how a person works.

Think about the most important function of their role – whether it be nurturing the clients they will have or hunting for new leads – and ask them to put together a short but concise plan on how they would go about approaching that task.

3. Don’t forget to check for culture and team fit

Try to not explain your team culture and THEN ask them what kind of environment they like to work in – as this may just prompt them to rework your words into their answer.

Instead ask them the best place they have ever worked and why they enjoyed their time there. Also find out about the most challenging characters they have faced in a job and how they overcame any issues with them. You know your company better than they do, so you will be able to make an informed assessment on whether they will work well in your team. Ask yourself if they will fit; 

  • Your team
  • Your style of management
  • Most importantly – your customers

Also make sure you do two interviews with your top candidate.

4. Always, always, ALWAYS do reference checks

If you want to hire the right candidate for your sales team, you must do your due diligence when it comes to doing reference checking. Ask to speak to two previous managers and also a past client – this can give you a really valuable insight into the way they actually sell.

And, although we like to naturally think the best of people, check the referee actually works (or worked) where the candidate has said they do (or did). This is so easy to do with the internet and Google search right at our fingertips. 

Make sure you ask character and skill-based questions of the referee, and don’t feel bad prompting about any weaknesses/areas of improvement they may have noticed. We all have them, it is just about making sure you are aware of them before deciding if they are the best fit for the role.

As a final question, ask the referee if they would employ them again. This should give you a good indication on whether they are the right candidate for you.

5. 90-day plan

Post-recruitment there should be a formal induction of your new sales rep. This is to ensure your employee gets up to speed with the sale process of your organisation as quickly as possible and it would contain reminders of what planned activities you need in place over that 90-day period, for example; double calls, an introduction to their territory and also a detailed induction of why customers buy from the business and the best practice of selling to them.

Here you are setting the foundations for a new sales representative’s success, but this is an area that a lot of companies don’t do very well in, despite engaging in a rigorous interview process. So do them, and yourself, a favour, by implementing an in-depth 90-day plan.

In conclusion

Yes, recruiting sales reps can be a lengthy task, and sometimes it may feel like you just don’t have the time to do it. But by ensuring anyone you employ has been through a pre-hire assessment and rigorous interview process, you can be confident they will be the right fit.

And with an implemented 90-day plan you are providing them with the best possible opportunity to achieve the objectives of the role and be a successful member of your sales team.

Now wouldn’t that be a good feeling.

This blog post is part of a two-part series. You can read Part 1 Here.


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