By Martin Driver

Recruiting the right sales person to sell and represent your company in the market place can be a very challenging and demanding experience for any organisation.

In addition there are some real tangible costs that can be incurred if you select the wrong sales person as I’m sure we have all experienced at some time or another; some of these costs are as follows:

– wasted time and resources during and after recruitment process

– the loss of potential new sales and existing accounts through poor sales capability and account management

– the damage that could occur to your reputation and market presence.

So what can be done? Well I accept that there is no 100% cast iron guaranteed method that will always produce the exact person/job role match every time. This is because at the end of the day we are dealing with the most intangible of all resources, and that is people.

I would however like to share with you four key actions that can be taken in the recruitment process which will greatly increase your chances of selecting the correct candidate for your sales roles.

Clearly define the Sales Role and the Skill/ Knowledge requirements

It is essential that you fully define the goals and objectives of the sale role and have a clear understanding as to the skills and knowledge a sales person would need to have in order to be successful in that role. (There is a more in-depth explanation on how to achieve this in my Octobers Sales articles under the title of “What is Sales Profiling?”)
The main message hear is to be certain that you know what you want, if you know what you are looking for it makes it easier to find it!

Decide Selection Criteria

The next stage is to decide, what are the essential requirements for the role and what would be the minimum standard you would except in areas such as:

– Skills & Knowledge
– Market sector experience
– Relevant sales experience
– Track record
– Personality, Attitude and Behaviour

Plan and prepare the interview

The objective of the interview is for you to be able to solicit sufficient information from the candidate to allow you to decide their suitability for the role.

The main resource for this is asking questions so it is vital to plan what questions you will be asking in advance. These questions should be structured around the definition of the role and your selection criteria.

The purpose of the questions is to produce evidence of the candidate’s skill, knowledge and experience levels. To do this you need to have several questions around the same topic to enable you to probe deeper.

When interviewing I always use an initial question to set the scene and then further questions to delve more deeply i.e. “What is your experience in XYZ market sector”, “What companies specifically did you deal with in that sector”, “Give me an example of one of your most successful sales within these companies”, “What was your plan/strategy for that sale” etc.

Probing deeper makes people think on their feet and takes them away from the pre prepared responses they normally rely on and enables you to see the real person.

The main thing you are looking for is that they are able to provide evidence and detail to substantiate their claims, so good pre planned questions will be needed enable you to achieve this.

Plan an Induction Programme

Finally after all your hard work in selecting and recruiting your new sales person there is one more piece of work left to do and that is planning an induction programme for your new starter. Believe me if you can plan a good induction so the sales person can fully understand their role, products, new company and operating standards you will greatly reduce the time it takes to be productive.

All the very best in your recruitment, if you have any questions or enquiries please email them to for our Q&A section or you can email me through our web site

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