8 rules for attracting fantastic sales people

Jerry Sandys has been interviewing salespeople for over 30 years. He is the founder of Evorio and is a visiting fellow at the Cranfield School of Management as part of the Business Growth Programme. Here Jerry spells out the lessons he’s learned when it comes to recruiting a great salesperson.

Perhaps the hardest position to fill is that of the salesperson. It’s a position that can have one of the most immediate impacts on a business’s performance, and yet of all the professions it has the least tangible criteria for assessing the candidate. Even an office junior can be benchmarked against a ‘words per minute’ typing speed or their ability to use basic business software.

Assessing a salesperson however is much more subtle.

Let’s also not forget the interview itself – is the salesperson genuinely good at selling products or services or are they just good at selling themselves in the interview?

The pitfalls seem like they are everywhere.

These pitfalls however, are often avoidable. Over the years, I have successfully recruited many excellent sales people, but not before learning the hard way what to look out for and what to avoid. So, here are eight quick-fire lessons I would strongly suggest you consider when looking at your next sales hire.

1. Never take a sales person on who is unemployed, recently laid off or made redundant.

2. Remember, of those sales people employed, 80% of the business in any market is being taken by 20% of the active salespeople.

3. Avoid employing one of the 80% that squabble over 20% of the market. They are not the good ones.

4. Ask customers, clients, suppliers, advisors who they know and recommend. There is a much better chance of success when other people you know have skin in the game, your game.

5. Beware the butterfly. If the candidate’s past sales career resembles the pattern of a butterfly, flitting from sales job to sales job, you can assume they won’t be with you for long.

6. Avoid taking sales people with experience in product sales to sell services and vice versa.  They will not get it.

7. Decide if your role is for a hunter or a farmer.  They are very different people.

8. Make sure you reward the results you want.  Make commissions, bonuses and OTEs work for you – not for them.

No one said hiring a salesperson was easy, but these rules should certainly make the process easier.  Happy Hiring.