great sales talent

Your success or failure as a sales manager or business owner is directly dependent on the quality of the talented sales staff you hire and train


Great sales managers are made by great sales staff. Good managers can be pulled down by a weak staff. Knowing that your staff is the key to success, it becomes apparent that hiring is your No. 1 job. Hiring and developing excellent people will ensure you of long-term growth and success. Once you realize the importance of recruiting, this 10-step plan will become second nature to you.

1. Always, Always, Always Be Recruiting

It does not matter that you are currently staffed with great people. Things will happen to change that. Promotion, illness, career opportunities elsewhere, maternity leaves or tragedies. This can mean at any time, one or more of your best people may leave.

You must face this reality and be prepared. Recruit on two levels: First, is the basic of always interviewing available talent, especially recent college grads, for entry level.

The second is using trade and professional organizations to learn about the best people at other companies. Get to know these people, observe them in trade group activities to assess their skills, and remember to always speak highly of why your company is the best to work for and the programs and support salespeople receive.

2. Define The Job, Attitudes and Skills Needed

You can’t hire effectively if you don’t know the job you are filling. It’s like trying to sell without goals. Be very specific with a job description that works. Have your current people help design it. Then, analyze very carefully what attitudes (courage, empathy, confidence, etc.) are needed to do that job. Also, develop a skills list.

3. Develop the Interview

The only way to identify if the attitude you require and the skills you prefer are present is to use a prepared interview process. Develop a list of questions that probe the areas you feel are important. Ask the exact same questions to all your candidates.

This allows you to easily benchmark them versus each other. Having a prepared interview permits you to relax in the process and pay more attention to the answers and body language of the interviewee. Again, think of it as a sales call. You would certainly know the questions you wanted to ask a potential client.

4. Sell Them; They Are Buying, Too

An interview is tricky. You are buying (hiring) the person and they are buying (deciding to join) your company. The best hires fit in from day one. You need to sell them. Why work for your company. What are the benefits and rewards. Good talent will be a hot commodity on the market.

Why risk your competitor scooping up a good person because they sold their company to the candidate? Devote at least 30% of the interview time to selling them. Even if you don’t hire the person, they will speak highly of you and your company.

5. Use the Scouting Combine

It is amazing that sports professionals spend millions on testing and scouting talent. They time them, weigh them, watch them perform over and over. They test psychological aspects and attitudes. You need to do the same. Good talent will not shrink from a challenge.

Have your top candidates role play a sales call. Get to see them in action. Find out if their previous sales records were habit and not from blind luck or the result of a great product. Be sure to use the same scenario for all role plays. Finally, video tape them. This allows you to review them and compare with other candidates.

6. The Magical Three of Interviewing Sales recruits

In the eyes of your clients, salespeople are your company. They are your ambassadors. Ambassadors need to have sharp business skills, polished social skills and a personable phone presence. You need to conduct interviews in three settings:

  • The formal in-office interview.
  • A good phone interview.
  • Then, with your top three or four candidates at a social event such as lunch, dinner or entertainment.

A well-rounded person is your best bet for overall sales success.

7. Use Your Team

Your current team and support personnel are great allies in recruiting. Who does your staff respect as a competitor? Who has a great reputation? How do they see the job and the skills needed? What made them want to join your company?

One other great person to use is your receptionist. How do the candidates treat them on the phone? How do they behave when in the lobby? This will give you great insight into their overall ability.

8. Understand That The Cinderella Slipper Might Not Fit

Many times we find people with great talent, but they do not exactly match the job description. The challenge is to review why you feel they are so great. Then, find a way to match up a job that will maximize this talent. Can you shift some areas of the job to other current staff members that are very strong in that area?

By doing this, you recruit good talent and at the same time have all your people maximizing their areas of expertise. Approaching the process as team, and drafting the best available athlete, has won many a Super Bowl.