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How To Hire A Salesperson

Updated on Feb 11, 2020 12405 views
How To Hire A Salesperson

Hi there, did you know that 80% of sales made in a company is made by only 20% of salespeople on the sales team? (Source)


I bet you didn’t know.


Having salespeople or sales representatives on your team is incredibly important to the growth in sales of your company, and considering that most companies crash because they failed to generate sales due to lack of salespeople, hiring one is definitely something you should consider.


Before you hire, check out our guide on How To Hire A Salesperson.


In this guide, you will learn :

  • Who is a salesperson?

  • What is the job of a salesperson?

  • Qualifications of a salesperson

  • Skills every salesperson should possess

  • How to recruit a salesperson

  • Qualities to look for when hiring a salesperson

  • How to know that you’ve hired the best candidate 

  • Mistakes to avoid when hiring a salesperson

Who Is A Salesperson?

Who Is A Sales Person?


A sales person can be described as "A salesperson is a professional who usually works as part of the sales team of a company, retail stores, and other establishments, employed to sell services or goods to other client-businesses or to individuals".

Before you start writing a job description or putting out job ads for a salesperson position, you first need to know who a salesperson is, so that you can understand what role they generally play, and how this role is likely to affect your company.


What Is The Duties Of A Salesperson?

What Is The Job Of A Sales Person?

We’ve defined who a salesperson is, now we move on to the job of a salesperson. If you were to hire a salesperson, what exactly would they be doing for you?


Typically, a salesperson in your company would perform the following duties:

  • Greet customers.

  • Help customers find items ( if it is in a retail store).

  • Check for stock availability at other company branches and order stock based on customer demand.

  • Answer customers’ questions regarding products and services.

  • Ring up purchases.

  • Update management regarding customer complaints.

  • Call potential customers and pitch services to them.

  • Track inventory.

  • Maintain customer relationship and information.


Top Qualifications Of A Great Salesperson

While hiring a salesperson, you’ll obviously have to make sure that they possess the necessary qualifications, certifications, and experience required to do the job. If not for anything, to prove that they underwent training in the field.


These are the few qualifications your ideal salesperson should possess:

  • High school diploma ( for a retail job)

  • Previous experience in sales

  • Motivated to work busy shifts

  • Committed to good customer service

  • A degree in Sales, Marketing, Commerce, Economics, Merchandising management, or other related fields.


Few topics they would have done could be:

  • Conflict resolution and negotiation

  • Internet marketing and consumer behaviour

  • Management of supply chains


Top Skills Every Salesperson Should Possess

Being professionals, salespeople have certain skillsets which are specific to their industry. 


These skills would have been acquired and cultivated by them over time, and are also what would help them run your company’s sales better, as well as relate better with your customers.


A salesperson should possess the following  skills:

  • Communication Skills

  • Intrapersonal Skills

  • Job-related skills

  • Customer service skills

1. Communication Skills

Being in a sales position, your salesperson is always at the forefront of communicating with clients. And it is how they communicate with your clients that will determine if you will gain more clients, or lose the ones you already have.


They should know how to effectively and efficiently communicate with your clients, whether face to face, over the phone or in a written format. In the end, they should have been able to fulfil the customer’s need and also clarify their doubts regarding products or services.


communication skills also include:

  • Maintaining a good relationship with both new and existing customers.

  • Cold calling

  • Been able to hold a successful door to door sales

  • Good listening skills

  • Writing reports

  • Negotiation

  • Public speaking

  • Persuasion

  • Networking

  • Storytelling (able to tell a compelling story about a product)


2. Intrapersonal Skills

Intrapersonal skills are skills that focus mainly on self-development, self-awareness, and character-building, as opposed to forming a relationship with others. 


They can be personal habits, rules, principles and virtues like honesty and integrity, which the person has chosen to live by.


Intrapersonal skills are an important trait in a person and every salesperson should have them. Example of these skills are:

  • Honesty

  • Respect

  • Loyalty

  • Emotional intelligence/ emotional maturity, and empathy

  • Innovative

  • Ability to take initiative

  • Industrious

  • Driven and passionate

  • Goal/ Achievement oriented

  • Self-motivation


3. Job-Related Skills

Of course, in addition to having communication and intrapersonal skills, whoever you hire should also have skills that are directly related and relevant to the position of a salesperson.


Examples of skills that are related to this job are:

  • Product understanding (they should have a thorough knowledge of how a product or service works and its benefits to the customer).

  • Sales prospecting (can research and identify potential client, find out what they are interested in and what works for them, cold-call them and create relationships with them).

  • Client acquisition and retention.

  • Territory management (can manage clients and companies handed over to them to market to).

  • Team management.

  • Project management.

  • Customer relationship management.

  • Social marketing (can sell via email, LinkedIn, and other social media platforms).

  • Handling sales objection (convincing client to patronize you even after they refuse).

  • Sales pitch.


4. Customer Service Skills

A salesperson serves your customers and is present to make sure that they are comfortable and satisfied with your products and services. 


If there is a complaint about a product or they have questions, it is your sales representative that will be asked. 


So, you need to hire someone who has excellent customer service skills like the ones listed below:

  • Proper telephone etiquette

  • Customer support

  • Email management

  • Data entry

  • Problem-solving

  • Directing customers

  • Conflict resolution

  • Information management

  • Studying consumer behaviour

  • Recordkeeping


How To Hire A Great Salesperson

How To Recruit A Salesperson

  • Set the standard for your ideal salesperson
  • Determine your criteria
  • Consult your sales teams except if this is your first hire
  • Get feedback from clients
  • Write the job advertisement
  • Broaden your search. Use jobboards, LinkedIn and even referrals
  • Conduct the interview

You’ve understood who a salesperson is, what their job would be in your company, qualifications they need to have, and the core skills they should have on their resume to show that they can handle the job.


You know all these things and you are ready to hire a salesperson, so how do you go about it? Keep reading below to find out:


1. Set The Standards For Your Ideal Candidate

First set the standards of who your ideal candidate is, and the minimum or preferred qualification they should have. Some determinants you can use to set this standard include- their level of education, skills, experience, and skills they possess. 


Doing this can help you easily pick out applicants who you think would be a good fit for the salesperson role from the sea of applications. Don’t forget to be very specific and clear about what your standards of an applicant are.


2. Set A Criteria For Your Ideal Candidate

The ideal candidate for your job should meet the following criteria:


Capable- they should be capable of doing the job which they were hired for without the need for extra supervision or much mistakes. Such a candidate is eager to learn and not afraid to ask questions regarding the job.


Valuable Asset- Most times you could hire a candidate to take some work off your hand, but they end up being a liability that you have to micromanage (even when you’d rather be handling other parts of the company) rather than an asset who should make your job easier.


Whoever you hire, should have a tangible value that you know they can add to the company.


Company Cultural Fit

Can they easily blend into your company and its culture? Can they get along well with other employees? 


If your company happens to be a close-knit company where everyone gets along with everyone, you have to agree that it is advisable that you hire someone who can, in turn, uphold this company value and won’t make other sales representatives uncomfortable with their bad behaviour.


3. Consult Your Sales Team

Another great way to hire a good salesperson would be to consult your current sales team. 


Since they are the ones who are already handling your company sales, they can give you great pointers as to what to look for in a candidate, the kind of skills that they are lacking in the team, and how to hire someone who possesses that particular skill set.


Additionally, your sales team’s opinion is also valuable because they are the ones who have to work with the person you hire, so you need to bring in somebody they can easily rapport with.


4. Get Feedback from Clients

Depending on the kind of relationship you have with your clients and how close salespeople are with customers, you could ask your clients for feedback regarding the kind of services they’ve received from your sales team in the past, and how they can relate to it, negative or positive.


Also, ask them what they like most about your sales representatives and the kind of people they would love to work more with on the team.


This step, however, isn’t a must when hiring your own salesperson, and is just there for your consideration.


5. Write The Job Advertisement

Some points to follow while writing your job advertisement for a salesperson includes:


Define The Sales Job

Explain to your potential applicants the kind of sales job position that you are looking to fill. 


Is it an entry-level business development representative? An account manager? or a vice president of sales that you need for the job? Define it.


This is important so that the candidate is sure about the kind of job they are signing up for, instead of applying for one job and then be offered another at the interview.


Introduce Yourself

This is simply for you to introduce your company to job applicants. It is a company narrative which should be short and concise.


Through it you will explain what the company is, what it does, and the kind of candidate you need. Talk about your company culture, vision, mission, and other perks of working for you.


Make it compelling and relatable so that the candidate will be drawn to apply.


Use A Captivating Job Title

You know how you are inexplicably drawn to a CV with an astounding title or personal statement? That’s exactly how most job seekers are compelled by your job title. Put effort into it.


Instead of using cliche and overused job titles like “Salesperson Needed”, etc. try making yours more unique by tailoring it to suit the specific job industry that you are into. Say for instance you are into publishing, the job title can read “Sales representative- Publishing House”.


Using these types of job titles gives your candidate an insight as to the kind of company they are applying for, and also lets them know the kind of job they might be doing for you.


Understand Your Company Selling Process

What type of approach does your company use while selling services and products to customers? 


There is a chance that you would want to groom each of your employees whether old or new to adapt and use this strategy when approaching clients. Is your strategy transitional or strategic? Do your salespeople go after new leads or sales, or do they maintain the business relationship you have with existing clients?


Understanding this strategy also makes you decide the type of characteristics and skills the candidate applying for a job needs to have in order to fit perfectly into your team.


Have A Flexible Expectation Of Your Ideal Candidate 

While it is good to set standards as to who your ideal candidate is, it is equally bad to have unrealistic expectations about them or be rigid with your opinion of how they must be. 


What you can do is to look for a replica who is similar to the top salespeople in your team and who would also possess their characteristics and attitude to work. However, the candidates must not be exact carbon copies of these top performers, just use their behaviour as a model.



Don’t you just get upset when an employee’s CV is vague and void of details? 


Well, job seekers also get upset when employers leave vague comments on a job description and hoard a lot of key information and details about a company, that will determine if they can work at that company or not.


And as a matter of facts and hiring statistics of 2019, 90% of job applicants agree that it is important to work for a company that is transparent. 


If you want to get more responses for your job, then don’t leave out important details like:

  • Daily responsibilities

  • How salespeople get customers at your company (selling strategy)

  • Which team they will work for and who they will respond to

  • Type of customers they will sell to (your target audience)

  • Territories they will manage


Don’t Request For Unrealistic Requirments

While requesting qualifications from your applicants, make it as realistic as possible. Things to take into consideration include:

  • Will they be needing a degree?

  • Minimum years of experience required

  • Experience in a prior role

  • Experience using an industry-specific technology

  • Certifications


State Job Perks and Benefits

What do you have to offer to the candidate apart from a lucrative pay? This could be:

  • Flexible working hours

  • Employee to employee mentoring or tutoring

  • Option to work remotely

  • Lunch and breakfast

  • Health insurance

  • Paid Leave

  • Commission


6. Write A Job Description 

To hire a salesperson, you’ll need to write a job description. This is a summary of all the duties the candidate will be performing at your company of they are hired.


Below are a few points that will help you write a good salesperson job description:


Focus On Skills

When you are writing a job description, do well to highlight the key skills that are required from your salesperson for them to be able to do the job.


Avoid Cliches

In your job description, don’t use words like “driven, detailed, well-oriented, passionate” these are words that are always used in job descriptions and doesn’t exactly speak to the roots of someone’s character.


Instead, try something unique like asking “tell us why you are a great salesperson?” the right candidates will give you detailed answers which are backed with evidence or instances why they pride themselves as great salespersons.


7. Broaden Your Search

While you are searching for salespeople, you can extend your search by trying other platforms and methods that can help you find applicants faster.


In addition to putting up and AD on your company’s website, you could also use job sites or recruiters like MyJobMag or use social media platforms like LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and even reach out to your friends, clients, and co-workers to help you find great candidates for your job.


8. Invite Candidates For An Interview

Once you have identified who your ideal candidates are, the next thing to do would be to invite them for an interview.


Start sending out emails requesting their presence for an interview and make phone screening calls as well. You use this phone screening to find out whether the information or previous experience they put on their CV is true, what they know about your company, and how fast they can think on the spot.


During the interview, ask thoughtful questions like “tell me about the time you had to deal with a difficult customer and how you were able to handle the situation?”  Allow the candidates to ask their own questions as well to see how dedicated they are to knowing things about your company and business.


Be clear about what you want from a person who will fill the sales position and what’s expected of the job role, follow up with candidates that you really want to work for your company and keep them posted about the next steps and outcome of the interview.


Qualities To Look For When Hiring A Salesperson

Qualities To Look For When Hiring A Salesperson

You are likely to get a lot of applications from candidates vying for the post of a salesperson at your company and most times you find it difficult to choose from the endless list of qualified people.


To help you hire better, here 5 qualities to look for when hiring a salesperson:


1. Eager To Learn

You can make out this kind of candidate from the type of questions they ask you during the interview. A good candidate always wants to know things about your company, business, and the sales industry. 


They are the ones who are thankful that you have a mentorship system at your company and won’t fail to utilise this opportunity to grow in their career.


2. Zeal For the Industry

A great candidate has a zeal for the industry they are in, not just the company. They want to become better salespeople and steadily advance in their career and knowledge of the sales industry.


3. Ability To Solve Problems And Resolve Conflicts

You can use the presence of this skill to know how well a candidate can sell your product, and how they can relate to your customers by helping them solve problems with your product and resolving conflicts that may arise.


4. How Long They’ve Stayed At Their Previous Jobs

Candidates who move around from job to job on short notice, maybe a red flag, because they are likely not to stay at your job for long as well.


Nevertheless, you can question them to find out why they keep moving in between jobs and if it is a reason you can easily overlook and won't affect you.


5. Ability To Build And Maintain Relationships

A salesperson is a “people person”, they should know how to collaborate with their teammates to make sure that the company is moved forward, while still building and maintaining business relationships with customers.


They should be able to blend in with the team and adapt your company culture and ethics.


Mistakes To Avoid When Hiring A Salesperson

Mistakes To Avoid When Hiring A Salesperson

Hiring a wrong person for a job, can cost you a lot of money, waste your time, affect your sales, and employee morale within the company as well.


It is crucial that you hire only the right people for the sales team, by avoiding these 5 mistakes you make when hiring a salesperson:


1. Neglecting To Conduct A Phone Interview

A phone interview can help you correctly assess the candidate’s phone etiquette and lets you know how they would communicate with clients on the phone. 


Also, if they don’t pass the phone screening, no use wasting your time inviting them for an in-person interview.


2. Not Getting A Second Opinion

Don’t rush off to hire a candidate because you are the boss and whatever you say goes. Before you hire, ask members of the sales team about their opinion on the candidate. 


If they don’t feel too strongly about the candidate’s qualifications and abilities to do the job, then don’t hire the person.


3. Not Asking The Right Interview Questions

If you want to know about a candidates character and capabilities to do a job, don’t ask them cliche questions like “tell me your greatest weaknesses?” or “Tell me about yourself?’


Instead, ask them questions like; “Have you ever made a mistake at your previous company? How did you handle it?” “Tell me about  the time you prevented a client from discontinuing your services?’’


4. Failing To Acknowledge Company Culture Fit

Most employees may be qualified for a job role and meet all the requirements, but they may not be a good fit for your company or sales team.


Employees like this usually have problems with conforming to the company culture or getting along with fellow employees and are likely to quit the job after a short period of working there. Be sure to hire people who can easily fit in your company.


5. Not Upgrading Your Hiring Process

Just because you have a hiring and recruiting process that works, doesn’t mean that it cannot be improved.


Try to upgrade your hiring process so that it to meet new trends in the job market. Check out the latest hiring statistics and read articles to find out how to better this process in order to attract and retain good candidates.


Hiring a salesperson is a crucial process and should be taken with great care. Hopefully, this guide helps makes this process easier and more convenient for you. If you need help hiring a salesperson for your company, check out our recruitment services in South Africa.

Having good salespeople on your team is undeniably one of the best career decision any company or sales manager could ever make, considering that a sales manager or team is only as good as the representative

Staff Writer

This article was written and edited by a staff writer.

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