9 Strategies to Recruiting Better Salespeople

It's not impossible to find great salespeople if you know where -- and how -- to look.
9 Strategies to Recruiting Better Salespeople
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Many CEOs and sales managers say great salespeople are impossible to find, but some organizations consistently hire them anyway -- it's why they increase their top-line revenue year after year -- by convincing the best of the best to work for them.

Recruiting is the most important aspect to make your company grow and hit new profitability benchmarks, so never stop looking for sales talent. The market is competitive.

Here are ten tips on recruiting effectively.

1. The Interview

Don't waste time asking whether someone's personality would be a good fit for your company -- that's something you can probably figure out in the first few seconds. There are thousands of potential interview questions to ask a salesperson that you should ask, though; here are just a few to consider:

  1. How many hours per work do you typically work?

  2. What was your greatest sales success? What customer did you acquire and why was the sale so special?

  3. How would you feel if a purchasing manager stated they would give you a very large sale in exchange for a small kick-back?

  4. Tell me about a sales opportunity you lost. Upon reflection, what would you do differently now?

  5. Reflecting on your past position (if this is not a new college graduate), share one thing you wish your sales manager or CEO would have done differently?

  6. Tell me two personality traits you want to improve upon to become a more successful salesperson.

  7. Do you love our product and/or service?

  8. Could you sell a product and/or service that you didn’t believe in passionately?

  9. Do you think selling is an acquired or inherent skill?

  10. What do you enjoy doing more? Selling or Managing?

Don’t forget that the salesperson is also interviewing you. You must sell yourself and the company’s vision as you want to attract the best talent.

2. The best place to recruit

Everywhere. Use more than one outlet for recruiting. There are lots of potential salespeople and they all use different mediums (social media, newspapers, job fairs, online recruiters, etc.) to find opportunities. Decide on a budget and try different channels until you identify the best ones going forward.

Related: 5 Ways to Recruit Rock-Star Employees on a Budget

3. Voice and body language

It's good to have a telephone interaction with a candidate. How is their voice? Is it strong? Authoritative? Too salesy? Is it the right impression for your company?

Following the telephone discussion, set up a physical interview where you will meet face-to-face. As part of the process, become an expert in body language and study whether this salesperson has confidence, eye contact. The handshake -- is it firm? All the traits your parents taught you will come out in this meeting. It sounds simplistic, but it really does make a difference.

4. Thank-you notes

The interview was promising. You like a acandidate and want to make an offer. But wait: did you receive a thank-you note? A physical letter is best but an email note is sufficient.

The lost art of the thank-you note has disappeared in our virtual age, but they are important.

On a personal note, I would not hire a potential salesperson unless I received a note within a few days of my interview.

5. The value of recruiters

Recruiters do perform a valuable service in terms of saving you time and energy in finding the right candidates. However, prior to engaging a recruiter, you must establish compensation terms to understand the payment plan (ie. what happens if the salesperson doesn’t work out after several weeks and/or months). Find recruiters that specialize in your industry -- knowing more about the players makes a big difference when finding new talent for your company.

Related: The Myriad Benefits of Diversity in the Workplace

6. Current salespeople and employees

Word of mouth is the best way to market their company. Happy salespeople want to share their story with others about the company’s great work environment, aggressive compensation plans and strong work environment. Although not necessary, a finder's fee of $1,000 - $5,000 is a good incentive for employees who bring new talent to your company.

7. Preparation

"Dig your well before you're thirsty."

Seth Godin’s quote really hits home when discussing the recruiting process.

Recruiting is a pro-active process, not a responsive solution and certainly not a one-time event. It must be ongoing and continuous.

Even when you're content with your team, you need to manage, develop and grow them.

The secret to successfully managing people is to understand what they really want out of their careers. Be authentic. Be direct. Salespeople (like all people) can see through the BS. Authentic feedback flows in all directions.

Related: Employers Benefit Most When Every Hiring Candidate Has a Good Experience

8. Your recruiting ROI

Understand your recruiting return on investment. As businesspeople, we all know the acronym ROI; however, have you ever thought about it from a recruiting perspective.

How much money do you spend on your recruiting program? How many of your hires actually stay for over one year, three years, 10 years? How much time and money do you spend training a new salesperson?

9. References

Why would anyone interviewing at your company direct you to a bad reference?

Try going two layers deep. Yes, call the first reference, but then ask that reference for another reference. That way, you'll learn more objective information. Better questions provide better answers. Think carefully about what information you wish to ascertain from these references.

And, why ask for the standard three references if you are not going to call them? Make the calls -- it proves to the candidate that you are serious about your due diligence and follow-up (because, in 99 percent of the cases, the reference will tell the interviewee that your potential employer did indeed call).

That's all! Try one or several of these recruiting strategies as you continue to build your sales team. Good Luck!