7 Things to Look for When Hiring a Sales Person

By Kamil Kara - Jul. 5, 2017
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Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Kamil Riaz Kara. His opinions are his own.

Sales positions may be the most important as well as most difficult positions to fill. An established business understands that sales people are the lifeline of the company. A cutting-edge product or innovative marketing strategy will go nowhere without the tireless efforts of the sales teams.

However, hiring a capable sales person is not a walk in the park.

It is extremely difficult as those who may seem to have impeccable skills on their resumes may be lacklustre performers in real life . Or those who come out as confident and ambitious in an interview are in fact laid back and negligent. Often one problem is that sales people are professionals at being interviewed by potential customers so therefore they know exactly what you want to hear. They are sales people and they really know how to sell themselves.

I hope this blog post helps you make hiring a sales person quick, easy and effective.

1. Read into the resume

You will naturally check out a potential employee’s resume before scheduling an interview with them. However, there are key things one should try to spot in a resume while a number of other things should be ignored.

For instance, MarketingProfs state that recruiters spend 19% of their time observing the profile picture of a candidate. This can cause you to be partially biased depending on whether you liked or disliked what you saw.

A salesperson’s resume should highlight her/his achievements in words as well as numbers (measurable achievements). It is easy to write that you were the top sales person in 2016. However the award needs to be backed up by numbers such as sales revenue and sales volumes to be legit.

2. Look for candidates who strive to be better

You can train a sales person to to sell your product. But genuine passion and ambition are two innate traits that a sales person must naturally possess. Of course, everyone who appears for an interview tries their best to come across as focused and tenacious. But how you gauge the personality and traits of a candidate during an interview depends on your observation and the questions you ask.

One way to figure out how competitive a candidate might be is to inquire about their awards and achievements both inside and outside the workplace. You can also ask them to tell you about unique problems they were able to solve at their current or previous companies.

Some more questions that will help you understand the ambition of a candidate may involve areas of self-improvement or seminars they’ve attended recently.

3. You want someone oozing confidence

Everyone tries to demonstrate confidence during an interview. A sales person may be better at projecting a confident image simply because she is skilled at communication and has a very natural style when speaking to customers. However, a good way to test a candidate’s confidence levels is to present them with a series of objections and see how they handle it.

4. A competitive spirit

A competitive spirit is integral to your success. The employees you hire should not only be in a healthy competition with his or her peers but also with themselves to achieve better results than they did the previous week, month or year.

5. Conduct several interviews

To better judge the caliber of the candidate, you might want to consider meeting them a couple of times and perhaps include other team members in the interview. Different people will provide different insights on whether the candidate is a good fit for the company and the team. This is why some organisations will have the department head, HR head and director interview every candidate before making any job offers.

6. The ability for natural interaction

Interacting with their customers  is a salesperson’s primary job. However, this doesn’t mean that a sales person needs to be an extrovert. While developing rapport with prospective customers is a trait commonly found in extroverts, at the same time, ambiverts and introverts can actually be very successful sales people.

Find out what after-work activities the candidate indulges in. Someone playing sport is more likely to be an extrovert compared to someone who prefers drawing in their spare time.

During an interview, you should also note how relaxed the candidate is when meeting different people and whether he/she is trying to make a genuine connection or trying too hard.

7. Look for creative problem solvers 

It is not a widely known fact but good sales people should be creative. They need creativity to handle customers and derive new ways to pursue and retain a client. Moreover, creativity and problem solving are integral to business growth and success. You need a salesperson who looks at problems as unique opportunities to learn something new. Therefore, a positive and can-do attitude is essential.

Ask candidates about previous challenges they have faced and how they overcame them. The experiences can be personal or professional.

Often, what differentiates an average sales person from a superstar is not certifications or degrees. It is an adherence to the golden principles of discipline, perseverance, optimism and a commitment to growth. A rigorous interview process that involves all of the above points will help the management get a good idea of a candidate’s aptitude, and find someone who would add value to their team.


Kamil Kara

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