How to Hire the Best Salesperson for Your Company

July 24, 2014
How to Hire the Best Salesperson for Your Company

Hiring the wrong salesperson can be incredibly costly. From spent salary to the opportunity cost of an unproductive salesperson to training expenditures, the costs add up quickly. It’s safe to say any hiring manager would rather bring on the right salesperson than the wrong one.

But how do you hire the best salesperson for your company? Every company has different needs and goals. You’ll be best served by spending time before you start the hiring process defining your ideal candidate.

Define Your Candidate

Before you hire, know exactly what you want to get. Think of it like grocery shopping: you’re more efficient buying from a list than browsing through the aisles. Don’t waste you or your team’s time “window shopping” candidates. Set up an Ideal Candidate Profile, and make sure you get buy-in from the rest of the team.

Questions you’ll want to consider:

  • What qualities or capabilities are critical to success in this role?
  • What are nice-to-haves?
  • How will this person interact with others in the company?
  • How do you see this person evolving with your company’s growth?
  • How much experience do you want a candidate to have coming in, and how much could be learned on the job?
  • What personality type will mesh with the team?
  • Should this person have knowledge of your CRM system already, or do you have a training program in place to bring them up to speed?

Evaluate Your Candidates

Once you’ve established your ideal profile and collected applicants, we recommend you evaluate candidates on three criteria:

  1. Experience
  2. Aptitude/Ability
  3. Culture fit

Each category is important, but we recommend paying particular attention to culture fit. Even if you find a brilliant candidate with the perfect background, lack of culture fit could mean a struggle to fit in with the existing team and quick turnover. Refer back to your Ideal Candidate Profile to establish criteria in each category.

1. Experience

For some companies, bringing on a salesperson with a solid background in a specific industry, product, type of sale, or CRM system will be key to success. For others, especially those hiring for entry-level sales positions, prior experience will be less important. Here are some questions we recommend asking to evaluate for experience.

  1. What is your experience selling to C-level executives?
  2. What would you do to keep control of an opportunity when working with a dominant CEO as a prospect?
  3. How many years experience do you have in sales?
  4. How do you feel about cold calls?
  5. How would you measure and track your success?
  6. What tools would you use to stay organized and drive your activity?
  7. What CRM systems have you used? Which is your favorite?

2. Aptitude/Ability

You will also want to evaluate your candidate’s overall aptitude or potential for success in the role. Again, refer to your Profile to determine what the ideal level and type of aptitude will be for success in this role.

Recommended questions:

  1. Tell me more about why you feel qualified for this position.
  2. What does it take to succeed in sales?
  3. Do you have a system or process for how you approach sales?
  4. How have you performed in your past roles?
  5. Tell me about an accomplishment you're very proud of.
  6. What motivates you to succeed?
  7. What is your morning routine?

3. Culture Fit

Also known as “chemistry,” this category is perhaps the most important. Today’s buyer demands authenticity and passion from their salesperson. A salesperson who doesn’t gel with your organization’s culture, vision, or core values will come up short in front of these buyers.

Align with your team on what it means for a candidate to fit into your company’s culture. Then, have fun with it!

Recommended questions:

  1. What are your personal core values?
  2. How excited are you to work for us, and why?
  3. What do you like to do for fun?
  4. What are your favorite movies?
  5. What blogs or news sources do you read?
  6. What are your professional goals? Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
  7. What is the funniest/most embarrassing thing that has happened to you recently?

Align Your Team

In order to hire the best salesperson for your company, start at the very beginning: define what “best” means for you. Then evaluate candidates on experience, ability, and culture fit. Remember you can train a less experienced candidate, but you can’t train culture fit.

You’ll also want to make sure your hiring team is on board with the new priorities. We’ve developed a Sales Interview Scorecard tool to help you standardize the evaluation process and make sure you get the right hire every time. Check it out below, and let us know what you think in the comments!

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