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Recruiting the “Right” Sales Rep for Your Organization

Hitting “300” in Major League Baseball is excellent.  Not so in the world of Sales Rep recruiting.  So how do you drive up your average by limiting the old “swing-and-a-miss” to being few and far between?  Successful recruiting of Sales Reps is of paramount importance to small business owners for a few critical reasons.

  • First, there is the lost opportunity that can’t be recaptured when the new Rep does not work out as planned.  It often takes 3 to 6 months before it becomes apparent that the Rep you hired is not the Rep you thought he or she would be.
  • Second, there is the actual hard dollar cost of a miss-hire which can be a very bitter pill to swallow for a cash-flow conscious small business owner.
  • Third, the Rep can be disruptive if not a good “culture” fit with your company or the customers he or she is calling on.

Sales Rep recruiting is best done when you do not have an immediate need. Without time pressure, you are far more likely to select the “right” Rep who fits your specific job description rather then select the “best available” at the time.  Keep an eye open at networking events for sales talent.  Look at those Reps who call on you from a different perspective.  Set a goal for yourself to communicate twice per month with potential candidates by phone, email or over a cup of coffee.  Too time consuming for you to do?  Consider it a smart investment in the future of your company.  To continue the analogy, a bullpen is a wonderful thing to have when the Starter can’t go the distance.

Begin a healthy recruiting habit by developing a thoughtful, concise job description.  Ask yourself: am I looking primarily for a “hunter” or “farmer” Rep?  What traits am I looking for in this person? What are the most important required job skills? Is it better to hire outside my industry or a competing Rep from within?  How will I compensate this person?  Sales Reps are particularly challenging to hire because they know their product (themselves) very well and know exactly how to sell it.  Advanced planning will have you prepared.

Using a pre-hire assessment tool to screen candidates is wise.  It can be customized to measure against your own specific profile characteristics including attitude and motivation, adaptability and preferred job functions.  It will save you money by eliminating interview time with non-qualified candidates. Some believe so strongly in pre-hire assessments that they will not interview a candidate without a satisfactory profile no matter how enticing they may look on paper – their resume.

During the course of the interview, allow the candidate the opportunity to ask questions because much can be gleaned from the questions that they ask as from the answers they give. How thoughtful are they? Did they prepare well?  Did they focus on your needs and the job responsibilities, or were they more concerned about compensation and benefits? Look for questions from them such as: Why is this job vacant? Do you have any concerns about my ability to perform the duties of this job? Can you tell me about the culture of your company? What would I be expected to achieve in the first 6 months? The first 12 months?

In my next blog, part II, I will share my suggestions pertaining to these questions:  How many interviews should be conducted with each candidate and by whom?  What questions should be asked?  Are reference checks really necessary? What are the best recruiting sources for Sales Reps?

If recruiting is vital to your business’ continued success and not in your sweet spot of skills and experience, give us a call.  We have four decades of practical, game-winning experience and will step up to the plate as your outsourced Sales Manager.  We are your Sales Management specialists.


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