The following is a brief tutorial on how to hire sales reps. If you are looking to start any company that has anything to do with consumer products, the first thing you must understand is this: Hiring A+ sales reps is the most important thing you can do.
Read that last sentence again, please. Let it sink in.
That’s because the difference between an ok sales rep and a great sales rep can be 10x. That means, it could be the difference between your company breaking even and achieving 80% profit margins.
To hire sales reps, you must first realize a few things:
What to look for when hiring a sales rep
Before you even start looking for sales reps, you need to ask yourself and answer this question: “What am I looking for?”
Define the ideal candidate, their responsibilities (in your eyes), how they should act, what kind of experience would be necessary, etc… This may seem like an easy thing to do but it is crucial to understand all of these things before moving forward because otherwise you will have no idea of what kind of person to look for.
You may think that there are some general traits that most good sales reps share in common. This is not true. Most do, but that is it. Having a good sales rep doesn’t mean that they have to meet the stereotypes of charismatic, good looking, outgoing people who know how to talk well and dress properly. So think about what kind of person you are looking for. This will be crucial in your screening process later.
To help you answer this question we will go over some of the common traits or characteristics/attributes of a great sales rep.
1. Proven track record of Success
This is usually the first thing anyone looks for in a candidate whether it is for sales or any other position at a company.
Sales reps are the ones who bring in sales, obviously. If you don’t know how to sell then what can you sell?
Therefore having a proven track record is necessary because if someone has already done it successfully for another company than they have a better chance at doing it again at yours.
The problem with this is that most companies like if not love to look at big numbers when asked about their rep’s sales. This is something that should be taken into consideration while screening candidates. Most of these people will lie or embellish the truth and say things like “I sold X product last year”
This doesn’t mean anything! Ask them why it wasn’t more, did they work on it? The more they answer questions like these the more likely it is for you to believe them. When in doubt, find someone who knows this person and ask them.
2. Business Sense And Understanding Of The Product
Sales Reps do not work alone. They are a part of a team! They need to fully understand the product or service that they will be selling as well as have an idea on how it fits into their company’s business model or perhaps even several models (if you sell multiple products). This also applies if your company has services because services usually come with some sort of pitch.
It is important for someone to fully grasp what they are talking about before going out there and talking to other people about it. This will also allow them to understand how the product or service has value for your customers and therefore they can ask for more money or offer a solution.
Anyone who is motivated can do anything. That is why this characteristic/attribute is important.
You will find some sales reps that work really hard but are not successful in selling because they were simply unlucky. If you have a motivated person then there won’t be an unsuccessful period, at least not for long.
To measure motivation, I like asking questions such as: “How much did you make last month”, “What goal of yours haven’t you achieved yet”. I usually follow this question up with one regarding their failures because it is important for someone to learn from their mistakes and not just keep repeating them.
4. Ability To Build Relationships
If you are a sales rep that doesn’t have any relationships then you should change jobs.
Relationships are the most valuable resource in business. However, not only can relationships help you sell more they also help build your company’s reputation. You may think that hiring a sales rep will be enough but this will only get you so far. You want these people to constantly make strides on building relationships outside of work.
5. Sales Experience
Work experience in anything related to sales would be useful.
I personally think that any kind of work experience in sales is better than no experience. This happens because some people have never had the chance to work in sales so they don’t know what it takes or what they should be doing.
You will usually find a lot of managers who want to hire someone already experienced and I encourage you not to go with this approach too early.
Note: You will find a lot of people who are good at selling but are horrible at managing so again, try not to get carried away by hiring someone based on their sales performance only. Make sure you also consider other qualities/attributes such as if they have “grown up” over time, self-learning ability, etc.
Recruiting Sales Reps
Recruiting is the most important step in hiring a sales rep and it always has been.
You can’t rush recruiting. Stop looking for the perfect person and start looking at who’s out there, see what they are saying, check their social media presence.
Make sure you have a structure to plug this person into once hired. If there isn’t a managerial or supervisory role that will manage them make sure you create one especially if you are hiring an entry level sales rep. You always want somebody to be accountable for these people.
The more experience a sales rep has the better but not only should you look at their experience but also ask how this person has developed over time.
Finally, you need to look for sales reps who have a history of hard work and are self-motivated. Check their social media presence and see if they are talking about working towards something or just complaining about how life sucks.(most people complain)
Looking at someone’s past performance can give you some indication on how well they will perform in the future, however there are no guarantees. If you hired a bad person then it is up to you as a manager to catch this early and help them develop into a good person by being supportive but also holding them accountable for their actions.
If somebody isn’t performing then fire them if you have to.
Most people think that all sales reps are created equal and this is not true. There will always be bad sales reps but there are also great sales reps out there, it’s up to you to find them.
What’s next when hiring a sales rep?
Make sure you have a structure to plug the sales rep into once hired. This means you have a sales playbook, management structure, meeting cadence and software to manage the whole process. For more on playbooks check out this post.
We’ve answered a lot of questions throughout the years around how to hire sales reps and The most important part about hiring is that before you hire anybody you need a structure in place and support from your management team so when somebody does come through the door you can plug them into your organization and get them up to speed.
We hope you have found this post useful and good luck with hiring sales reps.