The Ultimate Guide to Hiring the Best Sales Reps

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Are you having difficulty hiring sales reps at your company? Are you looking to expand your company but don’t know where to look? Are you unsure of what questions to ask candidates in an interview?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may need some help recruiting the right salespeople.

We sat down withMike Manzito discuss best practices in his sales recruiting process. By the end of this article, you will learn how to acquire top talent to elevate your company and enhance your sales success.

1. Identity Staff Priorities 

Before recruiting externally, you must identify the priorities of your existing staff. How many sales reps on the sales team are performing? Which reps are not the right fit for your sales process? Do you have any flight risks? Once you identify staff priorities, assess the potential and performance of each employee and see where they land.

The tables below break down potential and performance from low to high, which will help you to determine whether to train, retain, or remove an employee.

High Potential

Moderate Potential

Low Potential

Note: Depending on your company’s sale cycle, perform an assessment on your current reps every month or quarter. Write down their qualities in one column and their likelihood to advance in another.

Performing an assessment can help you focus on your high-performing reps and see if they may be leaving. It’s ideal for running this analysis every month or quarter so you can take quick action and avoid any unwanted team churn. You want to retain your high-performing reps and find replacements for those with low performance.

2. Determine Candidate Qualities

Each company has unique qualities that matter during the interview process, so determine and have a consensus on the requirements before seeking new employees. You need to review what candidate requirements you need to write a good job description to attract the right sales leaders.

Some of the qualities you may be looking for in a candidate are the following:

  • Goal-oriented: Are you hard-working, or do you need a push to accomplish tasks?
  • Skillful: Do you have the skills we’re looking for, or are you willing to acquire new skills?
  • Emotional Intelligence:Can you control your emotions, or do you crumble under pressure?
  • Culture:Will you fit in the company’s culture, or is it not the right fit?

HR does most of the recruiting when sourcing for candidates, but you can research your candidates and find the qualities you’re looking for?

You can find some of these qualities in their accomplishments, such as the following:

  • Lists performance metrics on their LinkedIn profile
  • Wrote professional articles
  • Worked in multiple industries and was successful in each one
  • Worked at companies for more than a couple of years (Sales hires spend about 18 months on average at one place)
  • Previously a co-founder or held leadership or sales positions at previous jobs

These candidates will likely have the sales skills/traits you’re looking for.

3. The Interview

When a recruiter or hiring manager is interviewing candidates, sell them on the role and show them your company is different. You can do so by talking about the company, your team, and yourself. The candidate will be nervous more than likely, so telling your story will make them comfortable. After your candidate is relaxed, you can proceed with the interview.

Below are some recommended questions to ask candidates:

1. In your own words, can you tell me why you joined and left each company on your resume?

This question will help you understand the candidate’s decision-making process. You may hear some examples: “I didn’t like the place, I didn’t like my boss,” etc.

Listen closely, because you will find clues in this answer as to whether they’d be a good fit with your company. If they talk badly about their previous employers, then they may not be the best hire. However, if they say that they’re looking for more room to grow and advance their career, they could want to spend time at your organization.

2. Can you tell me a situation that you were in that would demonstrate how goal-oriented you are? 

This is a classic interview question and always a great one to ask. This will help you analyze how the candidate will work and help you determine if they would work well with other members of their team.

3. What motivates you deep down? (Why did you work hard in middle school, high school, or college?)

For this question, first, tell your story of what motivates you, and then let the candidate answer. This way, you will be able to gauge how genuine their answer is. 

You want to find someone who is motivated to be productive and get more accomplished.

4. When was your first job and how old were you? 

This question will help you understand the candidate and their job experiences more. However, you should only ask this question if their first job is not listed on their resume.

If it is listed on their resume, then you may look as if you didn’t look over the resume, which can lead to a bad candidate experience.

5. What is your unique reason for being good at sales, and describe/explain a time you’ve demonstrated this? ‍

This is an excellent question because it allows you to see what is unique about them.  If they say “rapport,” keep in mind that this is something many candidates will say, and it’s normally not a good answer.

The ideal solution or answer is controlling the sales process, negotiating a sale, or closing a deal. You want to hear something unique that makes them stand out from other sales representative candidates.

6. What percent to quota were you at your previous company, and what percent are you now? 

This straightforward question will tell you about the candidate’s success at their previous companies. If the interviewee doesn’t have any answers or metrics to give, they may not have performed well in their last position.

7. Why not more?

This question is an addition to the sixth question and can uncover if they can handle a blunt question or not. This question will also point out their weaknesses. If they get mad, it could become an obstacle later if they receive the job. You want them to say they were proud of their percent to quota, but if they could have focused more on a specific aspect, like negotiation, it would have increased their win rate. This question will also help you see where they can improve and if they are coachable.

This can also be a helpful question if they don’t have any metrics or they’re low. There could be a good reason as to why their metrics were low. Perhaps they weren’t trained properly or they had personal issues going on at the time. The interview is your time to get the entire story behind the resume.

8. Tell me what part of the funnel you make the most significant impact on.

The ideal question for the eighth answer is closing. If they only like the beginning of the funnel and building the relationships, they may not be the best at closing the funnel. 

Depending on how they answer, you can also dive more into their answer to learn more about how they work.

9. Can you tell me a situation you were in where you had to stay organized?

Organization is critical in any business, whether you’re dealing with a small number of clients and you need to know a lot about them or a large number of clients that you don’t need to know much about. Staying organized can be difficult, especially when sales professionals are juggling multiple clients. 

10. What types of things would you like coaching on if you started here?

This question serves as a weakness question alternative. What is your weakness/what are you working on are too prominent. You don’t want them to say product sales training.

Again, this is a canned answer, and you want them to show how unique they are. This question will also help you avoid hiring salespeople who aren’t qualified.

11. What do you think a sales rep here needs to be good at to succeed? 

This is an opinion question based on the candidate. The answers will let you know if they’ve researched your company or know much about the culture. 

12. What are some examples of things that are okay and not okay to mess up on?

There isn’t really a right or wrong answer, but it’ll give you a good idea of their work ethic, values, and if they’re a good culture fit.

13. Tell me how your team, family, and friends describe you.

This question is an excellent way of getting an authentic look at the candidate. This answer will be more honest than if you asked them to describe themselves.

14. Roleplay question 

Create a scenario where you, the interviewer, pretend to be a prospect, and the candidate pretends to be at the current company trying to sell you a product or service. The candidate can go through the sales cycle and show how they would perform in that sales role.

You don’t have to ask all these questions but have at least ten in mind that you think are best in acquiring the best candidates.

Start Hiring the Right Sales Professionals 

Hopefully, you now have a greater understanding of hiring sales reps. If you incorporate these keys in your sales hiring process, you will obtain top talent and elevate within the sales industry.

However, if you’re still struggling to hire the right sales professionals, might be able to help you. We are skilled in finding top talent for difficult roles when companies feel like they’ve exhausted all of their possibilities.

With many recruiting tools in the arsenal, we can find out which solution will benefit you the most. Contact us today to figure out which recruiting solution would be the best for you.


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