Recruiting Better Salespeople in 9 Easy Steps

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 recruiting the best of the best to work for them.

Recruiting is the most important aspect to make your startup grow and hit new profitability benchmarks, so never stop looking for sales talent. The market is competitive, and your startup can benefit from the nine tips below for recruiting better salespeople.

9 tips for recruiting effectively

1. The interview

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

  • How many hours per week do you typically work?
  • What was your greatest sales success? What customer did you acquire and why was the sale so special?
  • How would you feel if a purchasing manager stated they would give you a very large sale in exchange for a small kick-back?
  • Tell me about a sales opportunity you lost. Upon reflection, what would you do differently now?
  • 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?
  • Tell me two personality traits you want to improve upon to become a more successful salesperson.
  • Do you love our product and/or service?
  • Could you sell a product and/or service that you didn’t believe in passionately?
  • Do you think selling is an acquired or inherent skill?
  • 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

Use more than just one outlet for recruiting. Potential salespeople 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 for your startup in particular going forward.

3. Voice and body language

It’s good to have a telephone interaction with a candidate. How does he or she present himself or herself on the phone? Is his or her voice strong? Authoritative? Too sales-y? Is it the right impression for your company?

Following the telephone discussion, set up a physical interview where you meet face-to-face. Take note of whether the candidate has confidence and makes eye contact. Is his or her handshake firm? These traits sound simplistic, but they really do make a difference.

4. Thank-you notes

The interview was promising. You like a a candidate 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.

Related: Asking and Closing Sales Tips

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 (I.e., what happens if the salesperson doesn’t work out after several weeks and/or months). Find recruiters that specialize in your industry, because knowing more about the players makes a big difference when finding new talent for your company.

6. Current salespeople and employees

Word of mouth is the best way to market a company. Happy salespeople want to share their experience about a company’s great work environment, aggressive compensation plans and strong work environment. Although not necessary, a finder’s fee of $1,000 to $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 proactive process, and is certainly not a one-time event. It must be ongoing and continuous, even when you’re content with your team, you must manage, develop and grow. The secret to successfully managing a team is understanding what they really want out of their careers.

Be authentic and direct, as authentic feedback flows in all directions.

8. Your recruiting ROI

Understand your recruiting return on investment (ROI). As entrepreneurs, we are familiar with 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?

Related: Sign up to receive the StartupNation newsletter!

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. Remember, better questions provide better answers. Think carefully about what information you wish to ascertain from these references.

If you ask for references, 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).

Try one or several of these recruiting strategies as you continue to build your startup’s sales team. Let us know in the comments section below what your best strategies are when it comes to recruiting new talent at your startup.

(This article originally appeared on on March 15, 2017)

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