Q: How can I recruit good salespeople?

A: Outstanding salespeople come in all shapes and sizes. So your job is to devise a way to find those candidates who walk in the door primed for success. Don't shoot from the hip. During the hiring process, design a system that improves your chances for making better choices. The key characteristics to be on the lookout for are a willing, trainable salesperson with a strong, disciplined work ethic. Sounds impressive, but the trick is finding such a perfect candidate. Here are some rules to follow:

Rule #1: Create a candidate profile. Do your homework. Create a system before you attempt to interview your next prospect. Build a profile of a salesperson who is compatible with your company. Ask yourself the following questions concerning the best salespeople you've ever hired:

1. What do my best salespeople do differently than the rest? (For example: Early riser who habitually makes prospecting calls the first two hours of the day.)
2. What was their level of education?
3. What was their history of employment before joining my company?
4. Did they have the ability to work unsupervised?
5. What was their level of sales skill knowledge?
6. What was their level of verbal and written communication skills?
7. How much sales training did they require?
8. Did they have good organizational skills?
9. How much money did they earn prior to joining my company?
10. Was there a common situation or trait in each of their backgrounds that allowed them to come into my company and succeed? (For example: Oldest child in the family? Highly motivated by money?)

Tip for new entrepreneurs: Interview some successful role models and ask them the above questions about their salespeople.

Rule # 2: Construct interview questions. Design and ask interview questions that will give you more insight into how the candidate thinks and acts. Then you can determine if they have the values and motivation that will complement your company. Create your own questions based on what you discovered by applying the first rule. Here are a few examples:

1. What's your opinion regarding most salespeople?
2. What have you been doing since high school?
3. How do you feel about cold calling and door knocking for business?
4. What are your income goals?
5. Why are you considering sales? Or why are you changing companies?
6. What's the strongest asset you bring to this career?
7. How would you handle this situation? (Prepare a sales scenario that involves a challenge or objection/rejection.)
8. Where do you think you'll find most of your prospects?

Rule # 3: Begin with a resume. No one should be interviewed until they send you a resume. Then decide if an interview is appropriate. During the interview, don't be tempted to skip certain key questions because you're getting a "good feeling" about the candidate. Stay focused. Ask questions and listen. Remember, the candidate is supposed to sell you on hiring them. Don't reverse the roles.

Danielle Kennedy is an authority on selling, developing a peak performance attitude and winning customers for life. Call her at (800) 848-8070 or visit www.daniellekennedy.com for information on consulting for your business.


The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author, not of Entrepreneur.com. All answers are intended to be general in nature, without regard to specific geographical areas or circumstances, and should only be relied upon after consulting an appropriate expert, such as an attorney or accountant.