In some ways, hiring sales staff is easier than hiring for other types of positions. Most salespeople are evaluated on the revenue they generate, which means hiring managers have hard data to consider when making their decisions. Success has a clear definition, and past success (or lack thereof) can be a strong indicator of future performance.
When it comes to hiring entry-level sales reps, things can get a little tricky. Recent grads are less likely to have relevant work experience, and few majors clearly align with a career in sales.
Hiring sales representatives based solely on the reputation of their alma mater isn't a strong indicator of how they will fit into your organization. Consider these qualities when hiring your new entry-level staff.
- Look for candidates who carry themselves with confidence, use eye contact and feel comfortable talking about their past accomplishments.
- This should translate well into cold calls and conversions.
- Some sales managers will even say they look for a touch of arrogance, but be careful. A rep who’s young and cocky can appear entitled, which can be a turn-off for clients.
- Consider asking candidates to deliver a brief presentation about themselves or an industry topic. You’ll not only be able to gauge how well they perform under pressure, but you’ll get a sense of their level of preparedness.
- Can they go off script and think on their feet? Ask them slightly off-topic questions to see how they respond.
- Are the candidate's questions specific to your company and goals? Do they reference points covered earlier in the interview? Generic questions could indicate that the interviewee hasn’t been listening or doesn’t understand the importance of reflecting back what’s been communicated to them.
- Sales comes with its fair share of rejection. Only “glass half full” types can be turned down multiple times a day and not feel discouraged. Sales reps should be upbeat and have the ability to roll with the punches.
- Get interviewees to talk about past failures and see if their tendency is to respond to challenges in a solution-oriented manner.
Thorough Follow-up Message
- Most sales transactions aren’t simple. They require multiple interactions and tireless follow-up. Use the hiring process to judge candidates’ ability to stay in touch and top-of-mind.
- Are they good at being persistent without being a pest? Strong salespeople are capable of staying hungry without appearing desperate.