How to recruit great sales people

Have you ever employed a sales person who failed to deliver or under performed? If so you will understand how hard it can be to recruit really strong sales people. By their very nature sales people tend to be ‘experts’ at interviews – making it all the harder to identify genuine high performers.

In this article – the first of 2 for automotive industry sales managers and HR professionals – I’ll take you through a detailed process to help you attract and identify genuine sales stars and avoid the low performers.

Identify your needs

If you have a vacancy in your sales team, the first step to recruiting should be to define your business needs and what you want the person to achieve. Is the position a new job or replacing someone? If it’s the latter, beware of automatically assuming you need the same skill-set as the outgoing person. Take a bit of time to consider where your business and team are at and what you need from your next hire.

Define your candidate criteria

The SEARCH acronym defines the criteria you’ll measure your new recruit against. These are:

  • Skills – what specific skills are needed?
  • Experience – what’s the optimal level and type of experience needed?
  • Attitude – what attitudes and cultural expectations are you looking for?
  • Results – what results will you be looking for & how will you measure them?
  • Competencies – what are the key competencies needed?
  • Habits – what specific work habits or behaviours do you want to see?

This simple process is a game-changer when it comes to knowing how to recruit great sales people with the right skills, experience and attitudes:

1. Think about the perfect person for your job vacancy

Imagine they are sitting at the desk opposite you doing their job really well. What would you see them doing? What are their key behaviors and actions? Think about other people who’ve worked for you who were a pleasure to be around – what are the attitudes that they have that make them such a joy to work with?

Download this document:

Defining Your Candidate Criteria - Sales People

Use it to help you write down your SEARCH criteria for your ideal sales person candidate.

2. List your top 6 SEARCH criteria

Now go through your list and select the 6 most important SEARCH criteria. These are the things that you absolutely would not hire someone without. Complete section b) on the download.

3. Identify people not to hire – RED FLAG criteria

When you are recruiting sales people it’s important to know how to avoid taking on the wrong people. Low performers or people with negative attitudes can suck the energy and enthusiasm out of a team. Think about anyone who has worked for you in the past who didn’t work out or didn’t represent your business’s culture. What were the behaviours and attitudes that they displayed?

Complete section c) on the download making a list of all the negative behaviours, attitudes etc that these people had. Then complete section d) selecting your top 6 absolute ‘no-go’ traits – these are things you want to avoid at all costs and will need to carefully screen for. Keep this list – you’ll need to later when you are planning your interview questions. See: How to interview Sales People.

Create your Ideal Candidate Avatar

You can now create your Candidate Avatar. This is a profile of your ideal candidate. This will help you focus on the type of person you want, but more importantly think about who they are and what they are currently doing. This will be invaluable when you come to writing your job description and deciding how to advertise your job vacancy.

Download and complete this form below to Define your Candidate Avatar:

Defining Your Candidate Avatar

Create a job description

You’ll now have a list of your essential candidate criteria – as well as the things you don’t want. You have your ‘Candidate Avatar Profile’ to help you focus on where your ideal candidate might currently be and what they are doing. Print these out and use them to help you write your job description. For further help – including downloadable templates – on writing a job description read our article: How to write a job description.

Promote your sales job vacancy

You now need to tell people about your vacancy and attract the right candidates. You may be targeting internal and/or external candidates. Either way the first thing you need is a Job Advertisement. If you choose to use a recruitment agency – job advertisement writing is something they will be experts at and will manage for you.

a) Write your job advertisement

It’s a common mistake to confuse a Job Description with a Job Advertisement. The former is a detailed document – often running to many pages, the latter is a short, punchy advert that sells your job vacancy to your target audience. Use your ‘Candidate Avatar’ definition and Candidate SEARCH Criteria document when writing your advert. Remember who you are trying to attract and target your advert at them. Don’t forget you want to attract great sales people so it’s useful to understand how they tick.

b) Promote your job vacancy

Choose how you want to promote your job vacancy. The method(s) you choose will probably depend on your time, experience in recruiting, contacts and budgets. Most employers will naturally try and fill vacancies themselves in the first instance but if they have no suitable internal candidates or applicants they many choose to appoint a specialist industry recruitment agency such as Copeland with knowledge and expertise in their sector. The benefits of appointing a specialist automotive industry agency include:

  • Their ability to quickly access suitable candidates
  • Their market knowledge – able to advise on suitable salary packages
  • Experience and expertise in recruiting sales people
  • Your time will be saved – they will work to provide a fully qualified shortlist ready for you to start your interview process.

See: Why Employers Choose Copeland.

Conduct a proactive interview process

Once you have applicants for your sales a vacancy you need to carrying out a detailed, multi-stage interview process. This should include testing your candidates – a vital step to ensuring that you recruit the best sales people. This process takes time and should not be rushed.

Now read the second article in this series: How to Interview Sales People.

Further Reading:

Getting Your Job Description Right

How to Run a Video Interview

Copeland are UK automotive industry recruiters who help you find industry expert candidates and reduce hiring timesAbove all, we focus on quality over quantity.

To learn whether we are the right agency for you see Why Employers Choose Copeland . Alternatively, If you’re ready to talk get in touch: E [email protected] T 07973 286342

Let Copeland help you find the right people for your business

Sign up for our salary guide, advice, jobs & more Sign up now