Little-Known Secrets to Hiring a Successful Sales Rep

It doesn’t seem like it’d be hard to hire a sales representative. You put out some ads, tell your current employees to recruit their friends, and review the resumes that come your way.

With all of this, it shouldn’t be a problem to find the ideal salesperson. It’s that easy, right?

Actually, it’s not. Hiring a sales rep is hard and those in the world of business management tend to look at the wrong things and ignore those things that matter the most.

Here are some of the better strategies (and little-known secrets) to help you find a sales representative that will help your company succeed.

1. Filter Based On Personality

Success in sales depends on three things. First, what most people get right, the right skills are required. However, the two factors people forget about too often are personality and the person’s innate qualities. These can impact how well (or how poorly) the new sales rep works with your company.

That’s precisely why you should give the job candidate’s personality more weight in hiring decisions. You could hire the sales rep with the best sales record you’ve ever seen, but if the candidate’s attitude is poor, you’ve got a problem on your hands.

Let’s say you found a candidate who helped his previous company make $150,000 in sales last year. He looks great on paper, but the more you dig into his history and do reference checks, you find that he wasn’t a very good worker.

Hiring him might seem like it would bring good financial benefit to your company, but you don’t want to have to deal with any personality- or quality-based issues that will undoubtedly arise.

It’s far easier to develop a sales rep’s skills on the job than to change their attitude and character.

2. Hire Someone Who Will Challenge Other Reps

One of the character traits you need to keep in mind while hiring a sales rep is how competitive they are.

Business management often (and mistakenly) involves making people feel comfortable. However, this doesn’t work in a sales setting where comfort can quickly lead to stagnation, a lack of effort, and poor performance.

Whenever you bring on a new sales representative, hire someone who you think will be able to challenge the other reps. This new, driven and competitive person should force others to improve and encourage them to become better at selling. You definitely want your salesperson participating in department competitions and pushing any co-workers who are lagging behind.

If your potential new salesperson doesn’t do this or doesn’t do it well, you essentially hired a worker who doesn’t help your sales team (and your company on the whole) improve and grow.

3. Tell A Candidate They Didn’t Get The Job

This idea is a little radical from a business management perspective, but it’s also brilliant.

We’ve mentioned that you reps need to be willing to challenge one another, they also need to be willing to challenge you.

If you want to find a salesperson who is really interested in your company and what it’s doing, try a little reverse psychology. Tell each job candidate they didn’t get the job. If they argue with you or try to sell themselves as employees, you’ve got a winner!

4. Find Someone Who Possesses The 3Ts: Teach, Tailor, Take Control

Standard business knowledge assumes that someone who’s challenging must also be aggressive. Not true. Instead, they should be consultative. Some of the best salespeople are those who are able to challenge their clients. These people teach the prospect to look at things in new ways, tailor offers specifically to their needs, and take control of the conversation.

This of course must be done in a very careful and respectful way, but once you find a sales rep who can do this, you’re golden.

5. Hire Someone Who Can Stay On Course In An Ocean Of Rejection

Finally, always look for a salesperson who takes rejection like a champ. It’s tempting to think of successful salespeople as those who refuse to accept reject and cannot stomach it, but Dan Pink disagrees.

On the Knowledge@Wharton blog, Pink shared an idea he first heard from a salesman named Norman Hall: “He said, when you’re in sales every day you face — and I love this phrase — an ocean of rejection. So buoyancy is how do you remain buoyant on the notion of rejection? What do you do before? What do you do during? What do you do after?”

For example, a sales rep who takes a deep breath, goes on a quick jaunt around the office, or cracks a joke during or after a rejected sale will be more likely to succeed in the long run than a salesperson who curses or kicks the desk.

Hopefully by now you can see that a sales rep’s skills are not the only thing you should consider when you’re hiring a new salesperson. In reality, you could hurt your company if you only focus on the numbers and not the nuances.

A great personality and a challenging, positive, confident attitude will go far.

Have you tried other hiring secrets that have proved worthwhile when looking for a sales rep?