Hiring Sales People?

Client Advice

Many owners of growing businesses are shying away from hiring salespeople in their businesses.

Even though recruiting the right salesperson is the very thing that is going to take their business to the next level of success and beyond.

They have reservations about employing salespeople because they are not sure they are going to get value for money.

They feel that they will have the wool pulled over their eyes by a salesperson “doing a sales number on them” and that they will be convinced to hire someone who does not really have the ability and previous success levels that they claim.

They also worry that a “salesperson” is an aggressive beast that they will not be able to control. Very often they know a story about someone who hired an expensive salesperson who didn’t bring in sales and then they couldn’t get rid of them.

It is natural to have these concerns, but like any recruitment process, it simply requires methodical advance planning, research, and preparation of a list of relevant interview questions and selection criteria to establish if they are the right salesperson for your business.

As well as evidence of their success in other roles, which you can learn through effective questioning, you also need to establish if this individual is the kind of person you want representing your business. Your sales people’s ethics values and standards need to reflect those of your business.

I have put together a list of questions for you to ask yourself before you begin a campaign to recruit a salesperson as well as a list of interview questions for you to ask when interviewing a salesperson for your business.

Questions to Ask When Interviewing a Sales Person

  • Can you talk me through the sales cycle in your previous role?
  • Where did the leads come from? How did you get them?
  • Who did you have to speak to? What job titles did these people have/what level were they?
  • How often would you have to speak to them to get a sale?
  • What was the average value of a sale? How many would you have to make to get your commission?
  • Target Questions – What were your targets? How often did you hit your targets? What do you do if you think you are not going to meet your targets? What prevents you from hitting your targets?
  • What kind of objections did you have to overcome when selling your last products? Why would you lose a sale? For what reasons?
  • What level of activity did you have to do to achieve your targets? ( i.e. how many calls, client meetings, demonstrations etc)
  • Who were your competitors? Who did you lose business to?
  • Why did they leave these previous jobs if they were so successful?

If people cannot answer these questions to the level that you require or with the depth of detail and demonstration of accountability for their numbers that you expect – you will know that they are not for you. Asking all of these questions will also highlight if they are telling fibs about their earnings, commission and levels of achievement etc.

How do they describe their customers/clients? Does that reflect your company values?  What answers do they give to questions about “Customer Care” and “After Sales”? Ask them for examples where their Customer Care skills have resulted in repeat business? Resulted in enhanced sales?

 Questions for You to Ask Yourself Before You Start to Recruit a Sales Person

  • What is the market rate for a basic salary for a salesperson doing a similar job in your area?
  • How much business will they have to bring in to cover their salary?
  • What will you offer as a sales incentive? Most salespeople sell to earn a commission.
  • What do they have to sell? What specialist knowledge do they have to have? Is this an absolute MUST or could someone with the right attitude and sales ability learn to sell your product?
  • Who are they selling it to? B2C? B2B and at what level are the people who will decide to buy your product?
  • Where will they get leads from? Does your business already generate these leads or do they have to do that themselves?
  • Where will they record their sales activity? The notes of their client calls, the names and addresses of the contacts they bring on, and the business knowledge they gain? This is yours so it needs to be on your CRM.
  • Will they need knowledge of a particular CRM? They should be able to learn yours easily.
  • What is the average value of a sale in your business?
  • How quickly can they bring in business? How long is the cold call to invoice typically?
  • How will you handle up- sales to existing clients? Will they be paid a commission at the same level as for self-generated leads to new clients?
  • Are they restricted by geographical area?
  • Do they need to drive as part of this sales job?
  • Are you going to offer a car, laptop and mobile phone? Do they need to travel to meet clients and if they do, have you costed mileage and expenses into the costs of hiring a Sales Person
  • How are you going to measure their success? What reporting, tracking, and monitoring are you going to put in place? Weekly sales review meetings? Fortnightly meetings? Activity analysis and stats? How long will you give them to achieve their first sale? Be achieving their monthly targets? 1 month, 2 months, 3 months? Will this be clearly communicated to them at the interview and as part of their offer and contract of employment?
  • Are there any other activities that you will need them to be part of? Exhibitions, Fairs, video demonstrations etc? Make sure that you cover this in the interview and JOB DESCRIPTION of course.
Jayne Johnson

Jayne Johnson


Comparing recruitment methods today to those 35 years ago when I started my career, highlights a lot of differences. From handwritten applicant cards, speed typing tests, faxing CVs, computers only used for candidate testing and training, to consultants smoking at their desks! … We all work very differently now, using technology as much as we can and with emerging AI and the use of data science, that is increasing significantly. What will not change is the part that people and relationships play in our industry. There is simply no argument that where we are successful in placing candidates is when we have a real understanding of our clients’ business and culture. That’s the bit that I love – getting to know the clients and finding them the candidates who will really help to transform their businesses. Finding them Better People in fact!


Phone: 07748 402587

Email: jaynej@betterpeopleltd.co.uk

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