Mans Hands holding a Guide for Sales Hiring

Sales Hiring: The Ultimate Guide for Maximum Success

The success of your business depends on the success of your sales hiring process. The best companies always look for top talent and understand how hiring salespeople impacts their revenue growth. Recruiting salespeople is so important that companies spend $10,000-$15,000 a year on average per person hiring salespeople, and if you want to increase your profits, you should do it too. But, you need to focus on the perfect hiring profile and teach your sales managers how to nail it from the beginning.  

We have created this guide to help you get the sales recruitment process right and ensure your sales manager and company hire qualified candidates every time. We will teach you all about sales hiring: what it is, what it isn’t, and how to get it done.

We’ll also explain some essential things like why a good sales candidate is so important, where to find good candidates, how to make an offer, and how to hire and train your sales team to create successful salespeople who will improve your business.

Now, let’s start with the basics.

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When to Hire a Salesperson

Graphs showing how organizations performed for sales hiring

Image source: HubSpot

There are many factors to consider when hiring sales professionals. Before you take any steps, you should think about your reasons for starting this process.

Hiring salespeople might be a good idea if you:

  • Want to recruit sales professionals who are equipped with the skills and mindset to help you grow your business and achieve sales success
  • Want to get better results and quickly reach your key performance indicators
  • Have a great demand for your product or service and want to fill more orders
  • Want a better chance to close more deals and increase your revenue
  • Can’t handle inbound leads with your existing sales team
  • Want to hire someone who has more selling experience than you do
  • Need to improve your company sales cycle
  • Want to upgrade your sales organization
  • Have existing clients you want to upsell your services
  • Want to improve your customer engagement with more sales reps
  • Want to train and develop talent in your company

A salesperson is a critical part of any business. Even when you think you don’t need to hire a salesperson, it’s wise to consider its advantages. If you feel that you need someone who can generate revenue in a short period and is committed to working full-time, then it might be an excellent option to hire a salesperson.

It’s important to note that each company will have its timetable for hiring a dream candidate, but it’s best to start the process as soon as possible if you’ve answered yes to any reason we mentioned above. Remember, sales recruitment takes time, especially in remote selling environments. Your sales enablement team should absolutely support you with this endeavor as well. 

The Most Important Factor To Consider Before Increasing Your Sales Team

The most important factor to consider when deciding whether or not to hire a salesperson is your budget. You need to have the money set aside for sales coaching, wages, and benefits. Hiring a salesperson might not be an option if you don’t have that kind of cash on hand to invest in your seller. Also, if you’re on a tight budget, it might be wise to wait until hiring your ideal candidate.

But if you can afford to hire someone new, it could provide an excellent opportunity for your business. Hiring a salesperson could save you from having to do any of the sales work yourself, which could free up more time in your schedule to focus on other tasks like marketing or operations.

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From Pre-hello to Close graph shows where vengreso and other sales training companies sit for hiring

You can start assessing your current employees or account executives who have the right sales skills. If they are not already in sales, hey, they might be a good fit for the sales role. As statistics show us that external sales reps need at least ten weeks of training to become successful, it can save your time.

However, investing in the right sales training has a 353% ROI. For example, you can check out Vengreso and our digital sales program that helps your sales teams build pipelines and book more sales meetings through digital selling practices. 

Ensuring you have a program to map your sales hires to modern selling techniques is critical for sales recruitment. Hiring salespeople as a sales manager and ensuring you can share a vision of how you’ll “level them up” during the interview process is key to retention. Many leads have used our 10-steps to digital selling to showcase “modern” sales training for today’s modern sales rep. 

Vengreso is the industry leader in digital sales training and consulting. We have helped many B2B companies create more opportunities with qualified buyers, start new sales conversations, develop effective sales strategies, improve their sales-oriented content, and optimize their presence on LinkedIn.

We have helped over  2,050 companies and worked with individual account executives to sales teams of tens of thousands. Contact us today to find out how we can help your sales team achieve your goals.

What To Do If You Don’t Have Qualified Resources In Your Company

In the meantime, if a position opens up in your company and no one is qualified for the job, you need to rely on referrals or external hires. It can create a backlog of work for your current employees, leading to severe consequences on your revenue if you don’t react quickly.

Luckily, we have created this guide to help you develop and execute a perfect sales hiring strategy program.

Sales Hiring Assessment

Finding the right sales rep or an account executive can be difficult. But with the proper sales hiring assessment, patience, and some hard work, it’s not impossible.

You need to ensure your company has everything in place before you even start interviewing people to ensure you know how to evaluate a candidate for a sales position. It includes having everything ready to evaluate their skills and experience, assess their personality, and determine if they are qualified for the job or not. 

Sometimes depending on the location of the account executive (given the global nature of hiring now due to virtual selling), you have to be prepared to provide a written test. Also, it would be best to prepare for the questions candidates might ask you during the interview, like salary and benefits.

HBR developed a great graphic on “How to Evaluate a Job Candidate for a Sales Position”. It included four unique components that merit consideration. Interestingly enough, assessing “company culture fit” was the last item to consider. It, however, was back in 2015. We would argue that this would be different today. 

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Pie graph showing hiring evaluation criteria for a sales position

Image source:

Let’s examine each step in the sales hiring strategy.

1. Define the Hiring Profile

The first step is defining the hiring profile or identifying the qualities and skills you want your sales rep to have. If you’re looking for someone who has experience selling a product or service that matches yours, that would be an essential quality to identify during the sales recruitment process, interview, or candidate testing. You might consider industry experience as well. Although, many sales leaders have reported that the best hires came from outside of an industry. So, if industry experience is required for your hiring profile then you’re missing out on a large pool of talent. 

2. Write the Job Description

It’s also important to ensure there’s a clear job description to define the sales role. You want the person you hire to know exactly what their job entails. A good way of doing this is by introducing your company and outlining specific tasks and responsibilities in the job ad or post.

Don’t forget when you’re hiring someone that it’s not just about their skills they’re going to represent your company! The way they present themselves is crucial in making an excellent first impression on customers and engaging with them throughout the sales process.

To ensure your sales hiring success, make sure they understand what your company stands for and clarify any questions they may have about the position. In other words, know in one sentence or two how to describe who you help, how you help, and what business problem you solve. For example, if someone asked “who is Vengreso?” The reply would be: “Vengreso helps business owners, reps, and sales teams to create more sales conversations and grow their sales pipeline through digital sales prospecting training.”

3. Define Salary Range and Benefits

You’ll also want to define the salary range and benefits you offer before potential candidates come in for an interview. It allows you to better prepare for negotiations.

You’ll also need to know how much you’re willing to pay for these qualities to ask your candidates about their salary expectations (see HR or legal approval as some states in the USA don’t allow this) and see if your budget will work for them. Great salespeople want higher salaries so consider this an investment rather than a cost. Don’t forget the commission plan is just as important as the salary. If you have someone who is too focused on the salary instead of the leveraged part of the compensation plan, that could be problematic. 

Finally, find out their goals and whether they align with yours before signing them on as a new employee.

4. Define Questions for Hiring Sales Reps 

There are many ways to assess a candidate’s skills. Still, one way is by asking tough questions during an in-person interview, only to see if the candidates are totally honest and have any previous sales experience. For example, you can ask:

  • What their past failures were
  • What do successful sales mean for them
  • How would they score their track record
  • What sales tools do they know and use
  • Do they know how to leverage an omnichannel approach to sales engagement
  • Are they a “modern seller”
  • How will they leverage their digital sales network to grow revenue

Suppose you’re looking for someone who will sell a more complex solution sale. Ask candidates what they would do if they had a customer not interested in anything over $30. It forces them to provide a solution and show that they have the right skills to do the job.

Be sure to write your questions upfront so you don’t miss anything important during the interviewing process of a prospective hire.

Additional ideas for the interview process

Another way to assess candidates’ skills is by having them complete a written test. For example, if you want to know how they’ll handle objections from customers, give them an objection card with some prices on it and see how they react. You can also tell them about some objections or misconceptions your customers have had in the past, ask for a written response and see how they handle it.

Also, to assess candidates’ interpersonal skills, you can conduct a role-play through a series of sales phone calls. You can include sales managers, sales leaders, account executives, or hiring managers to act as prospective buyers because they know what your target customers might ask.

You can analyze real work samples like emails that candidates compose to determine how well they perform under pressure while also measuring personality fit versus corporate culture fit with your business.

Finally, situational judgment tests involve exercises where a candidate has two choices: often choosing between what seems better at face value but isn’t best for another person involved in the situation.

Now that we’ve covered the four pillars of a sales hiring assessment let’s explore other steps in the process.

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What To Look For When Hiring A Sales Rep

Corporate Hand Shaking

A salesperson is a valuable asset for any business. They are the ones who work with potential customers and convince them to buy your product or service, and there is a large portion of sellers that can’t deliver on finding and closing new customers. Here are some key characteristics of the right candidates.

1. The Selling Experience

You should start by looking at their experience selling similar products or services. If they don’t have experience in that area, it doesn’t mean they will not close deals with prospective clients. Instead, it will take them longer to ramp up. Can you afford the extra 3-6 months of ramp-up on top of a standard ramp period? Review their previous work history and, during your interview, peel back the onion on how many sales they’ve completed.

2. Interpersonal Skills

The next thing you want to do is look at their interpersonal skills. A great salesperson needs strong social skills, good communication, the power of persuasion, and plenty of charisma to talk with people about buying your product or service. They need to understand that they should lead with helping a buyer through the journey to solve the business problem. During your interview process, ask them, “Tell me how you’ve helped a buyer before?”

3. Assertiveness

You also need someone with an optimistic personality because this person will need to use persuasion (not pressure) when talking with customers. Also, salespeople need to be honest, ambitious, and goal-driven, so examine these qualities when you’re screening potential hires. For example, you might ask the seller, “Tell me about a time that a buyer misunderstood something in your favor, and you decided to correct their understanding even though it could negatively impact your sale?”

4. Confidence

A salesperson, first and foremost, needs to interact with people (buyers) and make your customers feel heard and comfortable. Great salespeople also must display confidence in their words and deeds as customers buy from people they know, like, and trust. Confidence builds trust. It allows them to be convincing when selling your product or service. Being confident will help your new hire know they can do the job well.

How to Hire the Best Sales Reps

Hiring the best possible people is your number one priority for your sales team and revenue. You want to make sure you’re working with the most qualified and skilled individuals. It will give your company the best chance of succeeding. 

Here’s how to do that:

  1. Create an outline of what you’re looking for in a candidate, so everything is crystal clear.
  2. Identify which skills, experience, knowledge, or personality traits are essential for this position and which are not.
  3. Determine what qualities you value in your employees and hire accordingly.
  4. Always set up a rigorous interview process that includes testing candidates on their skills, intelligence, and ability to understand the product.
  5. Make sure you have a strong background check system in place and check references before deciding who will represent your business.

How to Hire an Outside Sales Representative (aka Field Sales Rep)

You should hire an outside sales representative when you have enough budget to cover all expenses, including frequent traveling to conferences, trade shows, or other industry events.

According to Payscale, the median take-home salary for outside sales reps is about $53,000, and 25% of that income comes from commissions. Technical sales knowledge increases a field sales rep’s salary by 24%, while new business development and strategic selling skills are worth 10-24% more. However, we all know that base salaries in the domestic US could be as high as $200,000 a year, depending on the level and location.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What type of person do you need?
  • What skills and qualifications should they have?
  • How many hours per week should they work?
  • What kind of performance reviews should they have?
  • What on target earnings can you provide?

These questions ensure you’re not wasting time going through resumes that don’t match your requirements.

You’ll want to evaluate their skill set to ensure they’re qualified for your position. If there are gaps in their experience or skillset, it could mean missed opportunities for your company or a lost investment if they don’t perform as well as others who were more qualified for the job opening. These missed opportunities are large. In fact, nearly 40% of all sellers don’t attain quota year over year as indicated below. 

Graph showing two bars about quota attainment every year

How to Recruit Commission-only Salespeople

One of the best ways to attract potential salespeople is by offering a commission-only pay structure. It can allow you to get qualified salespeople eager to work hard for you.

It also helps sellers know that you will reward them for their hard work, motivating them to do even better for your company. It can be an excellent strategy for those who already have a solid customer base and need someone who can go out and make the sales happen.

Risks Associated with Commission-only Salespeople

If a commission-based salesperson doesn’t sell anything in a given month, they will not receive any income. It can cause problems if the person has a family or other outside expenses to worry about.

To keep this from happening, you must offer non-commissioned bonuses to help supplement their salary if there is no revenue generated during that period.

Another problem with this type of pay is that it can create internal competition among coworkers or teams in your company. With no one being paid on commission alone, employees may feel like they’re not being fairly compensated and could leave your company due to feeling unappreciated or undervalued.

Image source:

To prevent this from happening, you should have an open dialogue with all employees about how you put the commission payment system into place and how everyone contributes equally to the company’s success despite different compensation structures within the organization.

Commission-based sellers can often come from hiring a recent college graduate just entering the workforce. But this comes with its risks, too… They will likely have graduate student loans to pay back within 6-12 months of graduation. Ensuring a clear path to financial success can help mitigate churn, demonstrating our commitment to their growth and financial stability.

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Where to Hire Sales Reps

So, where do you find sales reps? There are many places where you can find candidates, but it all depends on what type of people you need.

Once you find someone who seems promising, it’s essential to keep new hires on track and motivated to avoid losing top talent because of a poorly structured sales hiring process.

Here are some ideas to include in your hiring funnel.

1. Social Media Ads

If you’re an established company with a large marketing budget and advertising reach, this process will be easier for you. You can hire people who have already expressed interest in your company or your product through social media channels and ads. If you have an internal marketing team, they can help you along the way designing visuals and crafting the right messages to help you get qualified leads for your open job position. The best channel for this is LinkedIn. However, whatever channel you use, play to your strengths. For instance, if you have a lot of Instagram followers, use that channel.

2. Social Media Channels

Hand Holding Phone with LinkedIn Logo

Social media is another excellent way to uncover talented sales representatives who might not have applied through traditional channels because of location constraints or other reasons.

Sites like LinkedIn help you improve the lead generation process and find talented prospects that match your requirements without having them apply directly on your website or job board. It means they could be just a few clicks away from accepting an offer!

You’ll be able to see direct contact information on their LinkedIn profiles, their professional background, search their skills and even reach out to them with an InMail message if they match the criteria for your job posting. It saves time and resources because you’re only searching through profiles relevant to your needs.

Plus, with so many people on LinkedIn, there’s a better chance of finding someone who fits your needs than looking on more general sites like Indeed or Monster.

Social media gives you an idea of where your candidates spend their time and what they talk about with their friends. It also gives you an idea of their personality by looking at their photos or interactions with other people on their social media profiles.

3. Industry-related Companies

You may also want to consider hiring from other companies in your industry as a competitor. Many sales reps are interested in switching because of salespeople’s higher salaries at other companies. Reach out to these people personally and try to sell them on why they should join your sales team over others’.

4. Word-of-mouth Referrals or Referral Programs

If you’re a new company without much of a reputation or marketing budget, you’ll have to rely more on word-of-mouth referrals. Try leveraging connections from friends, family, and acquaintances to find great candidates for your sales team and offer them a referral bonus. These people will have first-hand knowledge about the candidate’s skills and would be able to provide honest feedback about their personality as well.

5. Online, Traditional, or Niche Job Boards

Online job boards are a great way to find qualified candidates. They make it easy to post your job requirements and attract qualified candidates. It’s a straightforward process that takes little time out of your day, primarily if you use a tool like Indeed. After you post your job listing on an online board, it only takes minutes for the first applicant to apply to your position.

Traditional job boards are great for finding qualified salespeople. Still, with the increasing popularity of social media, it’s almost easier to find a candidate on social media than through traditional channels.

Social media sites like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook provide an opportunity to reach out to potential candidates in a more personal manner. It is helpful when finding passive candidates who aren’t actively looking for work. Compared to traditional job boards like Monster, social networks are less time-consuming and more effective at reaching your desired pool of candidates.

One of the most useful things you can do is to post your job openings on niche job boards. It will help you find candidates that might not apply to your traditional posts and give you more options for finding the best person for the job.

Niche job boards are a great way to access people with specific skills that could benefit your company. Some niche job boards allow you to search for a whole range of sales jobs and find the perfect person for your company!

6. Recruiting Agencies

It can be helpful to get a recruiting agency involved when you hire salespeople. They will be your partner in this process, and you’ll want a good one. A good hiring manager will have extensive experience in recruitment, which means they know all the ins and outs.

They can also help with any questions you might have throughout the process, like salary ranges, explaining the company culture or team dynamic and more. Recruiters are also great for vetting candidates if you don’t have time to conduct interviews yourself.

Another reason why recruiters are so valuable for your hiring strategy? 

They provide an unbiased opinion. Sometimes we might be blinded by our own beliefs or biases when interviewing a candidate, leading to unpleasant surprises down the line. But with a recruiter, they’ll bring out any red flags before it’s too late!

7. Recruiting Events

One of the best ways to hire new talent is to host a recruitment event. For example, if you are in retail and need someone to work in your shoe department, hosting an event at your store would be a great way to get people interested in the position. You can use recruitment events for any job opening.

You should consider those recruiting events are usually not open-call, and candidates will often have to apply beforehand online or by phone. Hosts want as many applicants as possible, and they need enough space for everyone involved.

Whatever approach you decide, score candidates based on their skills and qualifications before making any offers. When you make a formal offer letter, know what compensation package is available so there won’t be any miscommunication during negotiation time.

Cost of Hiring a Sales Rep

The cost of hiring a sales rep can vary. The salary will depend on the industry and the candidate’s experience level. According to a recent report by Zippia, companies now need to offer an average annual base salary of $56,000 to attract new hires.

In addition to the base salary, there are also other costs associated with hiring a salesperson. These costs include recruitment fees, benefits, technology, administration expenses, and any training required for onboarding.

Recruitment fees range from 15-25% of the candidate’s annual base salary. Administration expenses include advertising, interview software, and background checks, as you can lose $17,000 on average for a wrong hire. 

Training for new hires can cost around $1,252 per employee or more, depending on whether it is ongoing training or not.

These numbers will rise if you want to hire more than one person.

Tips for Recruiting Sales Reps

There are many different ways to recruit the best sales reps for your company. One way is to use an online application form. It will allow you to receive a higher volume of applications with less work on your side. Specifically, we’d encourage you to leverage LinkedIn’s recruiting tool to get candidates to apply quickly.

Hiring from within could be a good option if you’re looking for a more personal approach. You might want to consider promoting from within if you feel like some good prospects in-house could do better in a different position or if they need some more training before they head out into the field. It could also help reduce your “ramp-up” time. 

Another excellent method is using referrals and employee recommendations. If someone has been working with someone they know is excellent, they might recommend them to you. If this person also knows other people who would be a good fit, they can make introductions and provide valuable contacts!

Hiring based on culture is another great idea and one that’s becoming more common these days. When looking at potential hires, consider how much cultural fit matters for the role and how important it is for the candidate to fit in with your current team.

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Spend Less Time on Hiring and More Time on Your Business

Now that you have documented sales hiring strategy and knowledge of how to prepare for it, you are ready for a successful journey!  

Remember that hiring is a long-term relationship, and you want both parties to be happy with the result. Ensure that you are clear about your expectations, know what you want from your salesperson, and seek candidates who can meet those expectations.

Do not get frustrated if things do not go as expected. A lot of time and effort goes into sales hiring, but it is worth it when the right person joins your team!

And when you start working with your new salespeople, Vengreso is here to support you all the way with modern sales success training. We can boost your sales team pipeline, help them prospect better, and sell more to increase your revenue and achieve your desired results.

To succeed with Vengreso, start your journey today!

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