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How to hire a great salesperson

April 27, 2018

By Jeff Farrington, courtesy of Gordon Advisors, P.C. 

Growth of a small to medium-sized company is often just as hard to manage as stagnation or a decline. For instance, if your business is expanding, you need a person or two to assist in attracting prospective clients. A great salesperson can make a significant contribution to the top line and thus, the bottom line. Follow these tips to ensure a hire who fits your organization.

Prior to the Search
Do your homework up front. Why do you want or need a great salesperson? What do you expect of them? If you aren’t knowledgeable about expectations, ask others what you should expect. Does your business need to work on new growth or current account management? The skill set to bang down new doors can be very different from someone who builds upon current relationships. Likewise, compensation will probably differ. Create realistic sales goals and write them down.

When considering compensation, do your research and write down the plan. Include the base as well as the commission or bonus components.

Cast a wide net. There is no golden pool when fishing for the perfect salesperson. Create a detailed online ad. This will even help as you discuss the position with those not found from an ad. Second. Let your network (personal, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.) know that you’re looking. Third, tell your staff and even include a finders bonus.

The Interview Process: Evaluating Sales Qualities
The first time you make contact with a potential hire is critical. How does the candidate communicate in person and in writing? Communication is an important part of the sales process. What’s your first impression? This will be your customers’ first impression too. Likewise, how does the candidate follow up? Follow up skills are a key sales component that many people overlook.

Personality is more important for sales than most other positions. It takes a certain kind of personality to be able to sell effectively, and just as important, how do they fit in with other company teammates that they will be interacting with? When you interview, determine if the candidate is passionate about selling. Past success and current passion are good indicators of future success.

Ask the candidates many questions. It’s important to know why they are leaving their current position. Salespeople normally leave companies when they’re not making enough money. Try to determine whether this is because of a lack of effort on their part or if it’s because their current company doesn’t meet their needs. Also, the candidate should be asking you many questions. Their career is based on understanding a situation and presenting solutions for issues. If they don’t ask you relevant questions to better understand the situation it’s safe to say they won’t when interacting with a prospective client.

Ask how the candidate uses technology to help with selling. An estimated 78 percent of salespeople who use social media effectively will outsell others. You need a salesperson who will use every method possible to connect with customers.

Post Interview
After the interview is over, do research on candidates you believed are a good fit. Look at their numbers; can they be verified? Ask for W2s to check whether the numbers and income match up. Check all business references personally. You may even want to do an internet search to make sure there’s nothing in the public domain that would eliminate them as a quality candidate.

Once you’ve identified your great candidate, be prepared to make them an offer in a timely manner. If you’re not sure about your candidate, let them go and continue your search. There’s a philosophy that says you should be slow to hire and quick to fire. That doesn’t mean you unnecessarily go slow when hiring and don’t give due process when letting someone go. What that saying means is be methodical and sure of your self when hiring and don’t hesitate to get rid of bad apples on staff – they rarely improve significantly, and sap the energy from the team.

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