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You don't recruit a salesperson the same way you hire other employees

You don’t recruit a salesperson the same way you hire other employees.

There are 2 distinct variants – the sales environment is very different from that of other departments, and the candidate is by nature a “good salesperson” who will easily navigate your traditional recruitment process.

What does the sales environment look like?

6 elements make sales different from any other position:

  1. Competition
  2. Rejection
  3. Hostility
  4. Lack of control
  5. Resistance
  6. Time

Before you kick off your hiring process, you need to recognize that a sales representative face job-specific challenges every day.


While your rep tries to persuade prospects to buy your products or services, these potential clients are also solicited by competing representatives. In total, your salesperson needs to manage 3 types of competition.


There is no sale without rejection! Your salesperson is confronted with it more often than they’ll admit (or realize) and needs to deal with it, especially when he or she tries to get meetings with new prospects.


Like most people, prospects are in a hurry and don’t want to waste their time: they may seem irritated, cold, disinterested, even hostile.

Lack of control

Even when your salesperson proceeds perfectly well, he or she doesn’t control the prospect’s final decision to do business with him or not.


Using objections and other tactics, potential customers often resist spending money, even those who have already decided to buy.


Your representative needs to be effective when asking questions to move sales opportunities forward quickly. However, he or she can find it challenging to stay in control because she/he is stuck making presentations, proposals and pursuing business opportunities that are unusually difficult to conclude.

How to hire a salesperson?

Traditional recruitment processes are too easy for sales candidates because of their sales nature. To find the best representatives, you need a sales recruitment process that includes 5 steps:

  1. Identify your needs for the position
  2. Find your candidates
  3. Evaluate all your candidates
  4. Qualify the best candidates
  5. Interview qualified candidates

The sales recruitment process

1. Identify your needs for the position

First, you need to formulate and refine the role of your new representative. What will the tasks, challenges, context and working conditions be?

Don’t refer to the current situation, but instead ask yourself how you would like it to be, under ideal circumstances.

Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • What’s the position? (internal sales, external sales, etc.) ;
  • What is the role? (traditional sales, sales by channels, etc.) ;
  • What are your markets? (companies, industries, individuals, etc.) ;
  • In which price segments do you fall? (high-end, competitive, cheap, etc.) ;
  • What is the method of remuneration? (fixed, commission, mixed, etc.)

There are several other factors to consider, but the objective is to have a specific idea of the type of candidate sought.

2. Finding the right candidate

Now that you have your ideal candidate profile, you can go looking for him/her. There are two sources of candidates: sourcing and job boards. They can be used alone or in tandem, depending on the competition for the type of candidate sought and the demand of the position to be filled. It’s, for example, more difficult to find a top salesperson than a novice.


Sourcing can be done in-house if you have the resources or through a recruitment firm. In addition to being an excellent source for finding candidates, specialized recruiters can also identify salespeople who are not actively looking for a new job.

The important thing is to use a firm specialized in sales recruitment. But be careful, many of them aren’t better qualified than you to identify suitable candidates.

Job boards

Sites like Monster, Indeed and LinkedIn are ideal for finding candidates. Pay particular attention to your job description: if it doesn’t stand out, you won’t attract the best candidates.

The most crucial element is the job title.

3. Assessing candidates

Once resumes are received, the next step is to have candidates evaluated with an assessment predictive of their sales success. This test should be done even before comparing resumes or interviewing. The evaluation will filter candidates objectively so you only spend time with the best.

A predictive assessment will tell you if candidates have the necessary skills to succeed in your business. It will bring to light:

  • Will to Sell – recommended candidates must have a strong desire and commitment;
  • Sales DNA;
  • Technical sales competencies;
  • The intangibles of their profile and the particular situations.

4. Qualify the best candidates

After receiving each applicant’s assessment, qualify only the recommended candidates.

A simple 5-minute call is all it takes to determine if the candidate’s sales experience meets your established criteria. Remember, this is a sales position so you want to assess how the candidate interacts with you because it’s an indication of how he or she will act with your clients.

Pay attention to their answers: it is not uncommon for a candidate to stray from the question and not give the answers you need.

5. Interview qualified candidates

It’s finally time to meet qualified candidates.

The interview is an opportunity to observe and question candidates who meet all the requirements for the position. It gives you an insight into their effectiveness and capabilities when under pressure.

The integration plan: the ultimate step not to be neglected

Hiring an excellent salesperson to perform in your company is challenging. So developing an integration plan is essential to see a return on your hiring investment.

Hiring mistakes in sales are expensive. Because sales recruitment isn’t effective, the process is long and demanding, and too often sales managers reduce their efforts after the hire.

Many integration plans focus on transferring product and service knowledge. An effective integration plan must first and foremost allow new representatives to acquire a maximum amount of sales practice. It should also be used to share details on current and targeted customers, and internal resources.


Whether or not there’s a shortage of sales labour, a good recruitment process is essential. It helps to find the elite sellers who will contribute to the success of the company and reduce the chances of having to thank a seller who does not perform.

Happy recruiting!