Practical Hiring Tips for Busy Sales Managers

By Selling Power Editors

As a sales manager, you probably feel like you spend the majority of your time putting out fires. But you can’t put your best recruitment foot forward if you spend all your time running from one crisis to the next. As you probably know, assembling a winning sales team is key to market dominance – and it’s not an easy task. Here are some of our best, practical tips for sales leaders looking to get optimal results from recruitment and hiring efforts.

Tip #1: First, define your ideal candidate. Study your best sales reps and determine the characteristics that differentiate them from the average ones. Find out what drives your best reps to be the best and to outperform the pack. Discover what talents, such as the ability to quickly establish trust or dynamic relationship skills, that are crucial to success in your unique sales environment.

Tip #2: Switch up your interview questions. During any interview, you want to ask questions that will reveal whether that candidate has what it takes to be successful in your organization. Also, ask questions that delve into character. The standard interview questions always elicit the standard interview answers. Rather than have a dialogue that sounds like it’s lifted from a job-hunting book, focus on a couple of areas and dig deep.

For example, rather than asking “what was your greatest achievement?” ask the candidate to write down two achievements from grade school, two from high school, two during college and two post-college, with at least one of them business-related. Ask which achievement makes them the most proud. Find out what was satisfying about that experience. Delve into their core motivations. At the end of the interview, you’ll know more about their character than if you spent hours going over the usual territory.

Tip #3: Get HR out of the loop quickly. If you are too busy to meet with a candidate, it says to the best candidates that you don’t care whether you hire them or not. Chances are that top sales reps (or potential top reps) are interviewing more than one company. If they’re the kind of person you want to hire, they’re going to get multiple job offers. Why would they choose a company where top sales reps are “parked” in HR until the sales manager can be bothered to give them an interview?

Tip #4: Hire for attitude rather than experience. Conventional wisdom says to hire reps with sales experience, preferably from your competitors. However, many years of experience can mean that the candidate has one year of bad experience repeated many times over. So don’t focus on what your candidates have done in the past. Instead, focus on their potential future as sales reps in your organization.

Tip #5: Don’t hire from competitors. Many sales managers think that hiring a sales rep with a pocket full of clients from a competitor is a better investment than hiring somebody who’s new to your business. But consider this: that candidate was being paid, by your competitor, to build up that client base. What does it say about the ethics of the candidate if he or she is willing to share those clients contacts with you? And what do you think the candidate will do after leaving your employ? What’s more, why would the candidates from competitors want to work for you anyway? And if they don’t think their former employer was the best in the business, why were they working for them?