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How to Hire the Right Sales Rep – It Starts With This Question

Hire the Right Sales Rep

At this point in my recruiting career I’ve lost count of the number of hiring managers (usually a Sales Manager) that I’ve worked with. Conservatively, the number is in the low hundreds. Despite that big number, I’ve yet to speak with a sales manager that was singularly focused on getting the most important hiring criteria right. What’s that criteria? Defining what the hardest part of the job is and the strengths a sales rep needs to tackle them. By making this the main hiring criteria, you’ll be well on your way to answering how to hire the right sales rep. Take note, if you’re a sales professional interviewing with a hiring manager that hasn’t answered this question. The onus of making sure that your strengths match the hardest part of the opportunity is on you (and I sure hope that you’re crystal clear on what their biggest sales strengths are). This leads us to another question.

How can anyone expect to make a brilliant hire if they aren’t laser focused on finding a sales rep that’s brilliant at the hardest part of the job?

Get Precise With the Bullseye to Answer How to Hire the Right Sales Rep.

Hiring the right sales rep requires more than identifying the general skill set needed or innate personality traits to tackle the job’s most difficult aspect. Let me give an example. Perhaps the hardest part of the job being hired for is prospecting or more accurately, getting appointments with prospects. Defining strong prospecting skills as a key requirement WILL get us moving in the right direction but repeatedly making brilliant hires requires more. Is there anything about the sales environment that makes prospecting especially difficult? There may be several challenges. For example, the sales reps’ prospecting activities are exclusively targeted at the C level of companies with revenues > $50M. Getting an appointment with this audience requires advanced prospecting skills. To make this just a bit harder, the company has zero name recognition in the marketplace. This greatly narrows down the field of sales professionals capable of performing the job well. It also gives us a bullseye hiring criteria that will greatly increase our hiring odds. 

Often, I find that there isn’t one clear aspect of a sales job that’s the hardest. At Sales Talent, we have three critical pieces required to hire a recruiter that excels. When you face multiple difficult pieces, you will have to use experience (i.e. your gut) to rank these and vet accordingly. If it’s something that can be trained, take it off of your list. Especially in cases where there’s more than one critical piece, also look for the One Trail all Top Sales Reps Possess. Ideally, you would sit down with your peers to establish the hardest aspects as a group. Once you have enough hard data (hires), you can reevaluate your required skills based on what’s working.  With the required critical skills established, you’ll find that it is infinitely easier to evaluate a potential candidate. For more advanced tips on how to hire the right sales rep you can read our eBook – How to Hire Top Sales Performers. You can find a link to it at the bottom of this page



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Chris Carlson

My name is Chris Carlson and I’m the founder and President of Sales Talent. This blog grew out of my desire to document and share what I’ve learned in my two plus decades of sales recruiting and leading Sales Talent. We post a new blog once a quarter on the 3rd Thursday of every January, April, July and Oct. These posts are aimed at sales professionals and leaders that speaks to talent selection, team building, or career advancement. If you have a topic that you’d like my take on, please reach out to me.

You can find Chris Carlson on LinkedIn or contact him directly at: