Hiring Salespeople: How to Identify Top Performers and Build a Winning Team

One of the most critical tasks facing a business is hiring salespeople. For a business that aims to generate revenue growth, great sales reps can be the difference between a successful company and one that lags.

A robust strategy is necessary to address every essential step in the hiring process with the attention it deserves.

With a strategic plan, you can avoid making a bad sales hire or hiring sales reps that quickly turnover.

Here are a few tips that can help sales managers wade through the weeds and get to the spot they need – new sales hires that complement the current sales team and get down to the business of selling.

Develop a Strategy When You Hire Sales Reps

Begin your recruitment process with a deep breath. Remind yourself why finding the best salespeople is such a worthwhile goal.

Attrition and turnover can have a direct impact on your company’s sales. An empty sales position requires time and resources to fill.

Even finding the right candidate doesn’t guarantee things are running smoothly. New sales talent must be properly onboarded and learn your sales cycle, even if they have experience in the same industry.

Choosing the Right Time To Hire Sales Reps

You must be aware of industry trends and patterns affecting your company. Data metrics provide the ability to forecast sales rep demand and give sales managers cues when hiring additional sales reps is right.

Pay close attention to sales professionals already defining your team. When new hires begin seeing results, it might be time to shift attention to more sales recruitment.

When sales reps field more calls than they can handle, it could be time to stack the team with another good salesperson to keep the selling experience on the right growth track.

In times of market disruption, new buying processes emerge that may require innovative sales skills your team still needs to possess.

While ongoing training is important, hiring salespeople with the preferred skills can fill skill gaps quickly.

Write Your Hiring Profile

Once you’ve decided the right time to search for new sales rep candidates, turn your eye toward your company’s needs.

What kind of sales reps do you need for your team? Are you looking for an account executive that can proactively assist current customers? Or would you benefit from having commission-only salespeople that can help your company scale quickly?

Determine what your company culture can support and offer to new talented salespeople. Understand what the sales role requires regarding sales experience and soft skills so that you can communicate it in the next step.

Build a Winning Job Description to Attract Sales Rep Candidates

A compelling job description should do part of selling the sales position to qualified candidates.

Choose a job title with appropriate keywords to catch the eye of job seekers. Focus on words that would be used to search for a sales role on job boards.

The job ad should include enough details for the potential candidates to see that they are a right fit for the sales rep spot.

Include information about your company culture, employee benefits, required sales experience, and expectations in the job description.

Work Smarter, Not Harder

Make the recruitment process more appealing to sales reps searching for a new opportunity.

Social media and professional sites like LinkedIn are great candidates for improving your odds of locating top talent.

Place a job listing on a job board, but also go the extra mile to ensure your company’s public image is top-notch.

Check company reviews and get marketing involved if things need to be addressed. Remember, when you look at candidates, they look back at you!

Traits of Truly Qualified Candidates

While you await the submittal of the job application after the job application, consider the traits of the ideal candidate. This will focus your mind on what you will be looking for during in-person interviews.

Hiring managers want to know before they hire salespeople that they will truly be a good fit for the sales team.

Soft skills like perseverance, a positive attitude, coachability, and the ability to handle rejection will be useful if the candidate has particular skills that the current team lacks even better.

Effective Questions During the Hiring Process

A standardized interview process can help you avoid bad hiring choices. There are obvious facets of selling that any sales manager will look for in a sales candidate.

Today’s minimum skill requirements include the following:

  • Great communication skills
  • Enthusiasm for selling
  • An understanding of different buyer motivations
  • Building relationships

Technical skills and industry knowledge are also key, depending on the field. The only way to know that you are pursuing the right candidate in the applicant pool is to ask the right questions.

Interview questions should focus on sales reps’ skills, experience, and personality traits. For example, you could ask some of the following:

  • How would you describe your process when qualifying prospects?
  • Describe a time you failed to reach a sales quota. How did you overcome it?
  • Which is more important to you? Making your quota or keeping a client happy?
  • What are some common obstacles you face in sales? How do you address them?
  • What is the most rewarding part about working as a sales rep?

Tips for the Interview Process

Consider having a scorecard in your notes to evaluate sales reps’ work ethic, experience, culture fit, and industry knowledge.

Fill this out immediately after the interview so that the sales reps’ responses are clearly in mind.

Weigh the benefit of having multiple sales recruiters sit in on the interview process. Extra eyes and ears can ensure that nothing is overlooked.

Seal the Deal

A sales rep may look good on paper, but what does the in-person interview show? A lot can be learned from a cover letter and resume, but in-person presence is important too.

Taking that logic further, evaluate sales reps’ written communication ability since a good amount of the sales process may happen over email.

Many hiring managers like to put a sales rep through a mock sales call, which can give a first-hand look at the sales rep working in their element with a fair amount of pressure.

When decisions have been finalized, let the sales professional know your intent to hire.

A job offer letter with a clear description of the compensation package and employment benefits will help secure good candidates and prevent them from moving on to the next interview.

Give Attention to Retention

More is needed to hire good sales professionals, and you need to keep them working for you. There are several things you, as a sales manager, can do to ensure a new hire is successful.

Provide onboarding with sufficient training in your sales cycle. Even if the new hire has sales experience, they will want to understand your methods fully.

Take time to provide regular feedback to newly hired sales reps. This will keep motivation high and go a long way in making them feel empowered to do their job.


Hiring the right sales rep can feel like an uphill climb. But with the right sales hiring strategy, you can successfully reach the peak.

Top talent is out there waiting to be found. Follow the path to finding the best salespeople by:

  • Choosing the right time to add a new sales rep to your team
  • Writing a hiring profile and job description that target the sales rep, you are seeking
  • Identify the traits you want in a new sales rep
  • Use questions effectively in interviews
  • Don’t delay a job offer to the right candidate
  • Onboard, train, and motivate new employees