Guest Contributor

Building the Perfect Sales Hiring Process and Strategy

By | Charlie Fletcher

Any hiring process should focus on hiring the right people for the job, but when it comes to sales teams, who you hire is even more paramount. It’s not just about quantity and increasing your team size so you can increase the number of sales being made or deals being closed; it’s about quality.

You need quality sales hires who are intelligent, self-directed, and determined to build a successful sales team that will increase your sales. However, building such a sales team is not easy.

Plenty of candidates today have sales skills listed on their resumes, but that doesn’t mean they truly have what it takes — in many cases, those sales skills are often exaggerated. So, how do you weed out the undesirables and find the high-caliber individuals who actually have what it takes to help your sales team succeed?

You take a closer look at your sales hiring process and develop a more thorough and high-quality strategy. Finding high-quality people requires high-quality effort.

Steps to Developing the Perfect Sales Hiring Strategy

Developing a quality hiring strategy for your sales team is about more than just vetting candidates during the interview process. There are steps you should take before you even start looking at applications to ensure you are on the right path to building a successful sales team.

1. Create a Hiring Profile

To start, you need to hone your hiring profile. In other words, define your ideal candidate. Before you create job postings and start recruiting and conducting interviews, you need to have a thorough grasp of the kind of people you need and are looking for.

This can include thinking about the specific sales skills you are looking for, but it can also include identifying other attributes and characteristics that you think would make a good sales hire, as well as considering hiring a more diverse group of people. Diversity doesn’t just create a more equitable workplace, but it can also help drive business success.

Some of the soft skills and characteristics you should be looking for include:

  • Good negotiators;
  • Innovative thinkers;
  • Planners;
  • Problem solvers;
  • Resourcefulness;
  • Competitiveness;
  • Team players;
  • Detail oriented;
  • Good listeners/learners;
  • Persistence;
  • Positive attitude;
  • Analytical;
  • Confidence;
  • Good communicators;
  • Presentation skills.

It’s also a good idea to think about how the people you hire will mesh with the rest of the team. While diversity on teams is ideal, you want to be mindful of differing personalities and how they will work together. It’s best to have a balance of different working personalities, as opposed to a lot of one type, such as motivators, and not a lot of another, such as climbers.

2. Write Compelling and Attractive Job Posting Descriptions

Once you know the ideal types of candidates you are looking for, then you can start creating job postings and descriptions that specifically attract those kinds of people. Basic job descriptions that fall flat are a surefire way to deter quality sales candidates from applying.

So take the extra time to write compelling, yet easy-to-understand job descriptions. Highlight the key aspects of the job, avoid asking for unrealistic skills and using vague jargon, and DO sell the role. It’s important to attract candidates that are willing to do hard work, but you don’t want to make the job description come across as overly demanding — make sure to point out the benefits of the role, including the salary/pay.

3. Use the Right Recruiting Pipelines

Where you are recruiting also plays a significant role in the kinds of sales candidates you will attract. Basic job board sites, for example, are a good way to attract quantity, but not necessarily quality.

You can still use traditional job boards, but it’s better to focus on more professional job posting sites, like LinkedIn, using staffing agencies, and even referral recruiting. These methods are more likely to turn up more quality candidates that specifically meet the criteria you are looking for. 

4. Fine-tune Your Screening and Interviewing Process

The next step is to start screening applicants. You should be doing this before bringing them in for an official interview, as it will help cut down time spent on interviewing. You can run resumes through screening to look for specific skills, conduct phone screening to ask some prerequisite questions, or have the applicants take some sort of written/digital screening skills test.

If an applicant passes that phase, then you can move on to the interviewing. But the screening process should be thorough enough that you are not inviting these people in for an interview without being almost 100% certain that they would make an ideal hire.

The interview should essentially work as a way to find out anything that may have been missed in the screening process, get an even better idea of their characteristics and personality in person, and receive consensus from other teammates or colleagues on the validity of the hire.

Some good questions to ask in a sales interview to get the conversation started and to dig a little deeper include:

  • What core values do you think every salesperson should possess?
  • What are your sales career aspirations?
  • How would you describe our product/service in one sentence?
  • How do you stay motivated to continue selling during a rough day?
  • How did you land your most successful sale in previous positions?

These are just some suggestions, but the idea is to get more specific than your traditional interview questions. During the interview process, also pay attention to how approachable the candidate seems and how often they smile.

Smiling, especially in sales roles, can make a huge difference. Smiling can also have physical, psychological, and social benefits that can allow for better working relationships, help with networking, and that can even boost productivity. 

Wrapping Up: Closing and Offers

Just because you’ve decided who to hire, doesn’t mean the hiring process is over. The final stage, closing and sending an offer is still just as important as all the other steps.

High-quality candidates will not be on the market for long and likely have other companies they are interested in. So if you want to secure them, you need to follow up with them right away and extend an offer with competitive pay and benefits.

It’s also a good idea to have some second and third-choice candidates on the back burner in case your first choice chooses to go with someone else. But you may want to be prepared to make counter-offers to secure the best candidates.

In the end, the quality of candidates you get out of the process will depend on the quality of effort you put into the entire hiring process. If you aren’t prepared to put in the work, then you are missing out on opportunities to secure the candidates you need to build a successful sales team.

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