Sales Hiring - You're Doing it Wrong

Sales Recruiting and Hiring Tips

Lots of things can happen to prevent your sales team from performing at full potential. But before you spend time and money fixing your training, metrics, or management, make sure that you're not sabotaging your sales efforts right out of the gate.

If you're hiring the wrong people in the wrong way, nothing else you change about your sales function will fix the problem. Here's how you can prevent yourself from destroying your sales team before it even gets started.

Profile Your Ideal Sales Rep

Do you really know what you're looking for? It might seem like if you cast the net wide you'll get all the reps you need. But just like you should narrow down who your ideal customer is, you should also really flesh out your ideal sales rep. Knowing what you're looking for will enable you to search for prospective reps in the right places, know which candidates are most likely to perform well over the long haul, and attract them with the job and compensation structure that they are looking for.

Educational Level

Some companies require all sales reps to have a bachelor's degree, or even a master's degree in a specific field. However, requiring a certain educational level can leave out some great candidates, who might have other qualities you are also looking for. Take a hard look at your product. Is it really something you need a college degree to explain?

For some companies with very technical products, a related degree is indispensable. But for many products, decent training can teach everything your reps need to know. If you know your product isn't technical, and you're requiring a bachelor's degree "just because," you may want to rethink your strategy. You might be able to get just as good of reps, and more of them, if you eliminate the college requirement.

Most companies will find that setting the bar at a High School diploma keeps the level of applicants high enough to perform reliably. You might find that some of your very best reps don't end up having college degrees.

Geographical Location

Are you looking for reps nationwide? Or in a specific state, city, or metropolitan area? How big of an area will each rep cover? Do you want reps who are local to the area you want to cover, or are you willing to relocate them? If the area your reps will cover is large, you'll need to figure in travel expenses, as well as make sure that they have reliable transportation.

Considering the geographic location in which you are searching will also help you to identify local websites and other venues for advertising the position(s) you have available.


This is really the biggie. Experience is important. However, many companies go into recruiting and hiring believing that their reps need to have specific experience selling in their industry. Industry experience is great if you can get it, and should probably be a deciding factor, all other things being equal. However, for many companies general sales skills are more important than any specific industry experience. 

It's important to consider what type of experience is truly relevant to your product and sales cycle. Will it be a transactional sale, or a more strategic sale? How long is your sales cycle, and what is its structure?

Sales experience can come from a variety of different places, many of which have a lot in common. Whether someone has experience in inside sales, outside sales, customer service, or even retail, he or she knows some of the things necessary to succeed in selling your product.

 Again, if you have a very complex product that requires a consultative approach, you may really need your reps to have previous technical expertise in selling a similar product. Analyzing your sales cycle will help you to decide which potential recruits have experience doing something similar. If your product and sales cycle are straightforward, simply look for the basic sales skills that are the foundation of any type of sales.

Do an Attitude Check

It might seem like something of an afterthought, but attitude is one of the most important things you should look for in a prospective sales rep. What type of sales culture are you trying to promote at your company? How do you expect reps to relate to themselves and to their managers? Is your culture more focused on teamwork or competition?

Here at Netpique sales outsourcing, we seek out reps who are trainable, first of all. We want them to have a positive attitude and excitement for the position and the growth potential it offers. Finally, we want them to be team players who fit in to our culture of celebration and achievement. 

Are you having a hard time deciding what your ideal sales rep should look like? We'd be happy to help. Contact Netpique sales outsourcing today for a free consultation.