Ten Steps to Hiring Top Salespeople

Before you hire salespeople be sure to follow these 10 steps.

Jeb Blount
4-minute read

If you are a sales manager or business leader you are well aware how critical it is to recruit and hire the right salespeople. This week we answer a question from a small business owner who wants to hire a salesperson but doesn’t know where to start.

We received this email from, Jen, a small business owner

I am a freelance web designer and have been considering working with someone who can take over the sales duties so that I can concentrate on designing. What resources should I utilize to find someone to work with and what questions should I ask to make sure I find the best match for my type of work? Thanks in advance and love the show!

Jen, I know this is not what you want to hear but I have to tell you the truth: Recruiting, hiring, training, managing, and retaining a good salesperson for your business will be difficult and frustrating. The problem for most small businesses, and, for that matter, large businesses is they don’t truly grasp how complex it is to hire and nurture sales talent. In fact, it is so complex there is no way to deal with it in one or even twenty podcasts.

So instead of trying to teach a lesson I’m going to provide you with some key action steps you should complete before you start the recruiting and hiring process.

Step 1: Develop a hiring profile. A hiring profile defines the ideal candidate based on the sales role, client base, and industry and so on. This is a critical step in identifying the type of salesperson who will fit your business.

Step 2: Create your job advertisement. Using the profile develop your job advertisement. You will be competing with other businesses for the same sales talent so I suggest creating several variations so that you can test which one generates the most qualified applicants.

Step 3: Develop an interview process. Your interview process will guide you from the initial resume review, to interview questions, back ground checks, and ultimately the offer. Creating your interview questions in advance will help you remain disciplined and systematic in identifying salespeople who fit your profile.

Step 4: Determine where your will recruit. I recommend reaching out to friends, family, and other people in your network to let them know you are hiring first. I also recommend placing your job ad on SalesGravy.com in the career center. Sales Gravy is the most visited sales website on the internet and we allow you to post your first ten sales job ads for free. In full disclosure, Sales Gravy is my company, however, for those dipping their toe into the sales hiring and recruiting pool there are few resources like SalesGravy.com that provide you the chance to try before you buy.

Step 5: Develop a compensation plan. The right compensation plan will incent your new salesperson for optimal performance. It will also help you retain your best salespeople. There are few thing disheartening or expensive as losing one of your best salespeople after making an investment in recruitment, hiring and training.

Step 6: Develop activity standards and quotas. Along with your compensation plan you will need to determine what your activity standards and sales quotas will be. This will ensure that everyone is clear on what is expected. This will also provide you with a guide for managing your salespeople. Keep in mind that this is an ongoing process that will change over time as your business and market evolves.

Step 7: Create a reporting process. As with anything in business you can’t manage what you don’t measure. So you will need to create a reporting process for your sales efforts that makes it easy for your salespeople to report on their sales activity and for you to measure that against the Key Performance Indicators you developed in step 6.

Step 8: Develop an on boarding process. When you hire a salesperson you need a process to get them set up as an employee or in some cases an independent contractor; introduce them to your company, culture and history; introduce them to your performance standards and reporting, and; provide them with basic product knowledge and rate schedules.

Step 9: Develop training and sales support materials. If you want a successful sales effort, training and support are critical. As a small operation, training may be more informal than in large companies, however what is most important is that it be regular and ongoing. You will also need to provide support for your salespeople in the form of a CRM program, marketing collateral, and customer service.

Step 10: Prepare to manage and coach: Managing salespeople is different that managing other types of employees. It requires you to be a coach, mentor, motivator, and leader. There is no such thing as “set it and forget it” in sales. So be sure you are prepared to be engaged and involved with your sales team.

There are many resources available to help you with your sales recruiting, hiring, training, managing and retaining efforts. A simple search on the internet will turn these up. Here is a short list of my favorites. 

Some online resources I recommend:

 Some books I recommend are:

Great Salespeople Aren't Born, They're Hired by Joseph Miller

Soar Despite Your Dodo Sales Manager by Lee Salz

Coaching Salespeople Into Champions by Keith Rosen

Top Grading For Sales by Bradford Smart and Greg Alexander

The Sales Manager’s Success Manual by Wayne Thomas

Recruiting, hiring, training, managing, and retaining salespeople are among the top challenges in business today. Fortune 500 companies spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in their efforts to build high-performing sales teams. For small and medium sized businesses that don’t have the resources of large companies the challenge is even more daunting. This is why it is important that you prepare in advance so when you do hire salespeople you and they hit the ground running. This is Jeb Blount, the Sales Guy. If you have a sales question please send it to salesguy@quickanddirtytips.com.