Make Hiring Smart Salespeople Your Competitive Advantage

sales onboarding

In order to have a high-performing sales team you need amazing people, but hiring smart salespeople reps isn’t exactly easy. Especially if you’re charged with finding 10, 20, or 100 new reps to scale your high-growth business. In today’s dynamic environment, it’s not enough to just put an ad online or hire a recruiting company and cross your fingers.

As a sales leader, you also need to be involved and engaged in the process to ensure you get the best candidates and close the deal with them quickly; before they’re snapped up by someone else. After all, the average time to hire an SDR or AE can now be as short as 2 weeks, so there’s no time to waste.

So how do you attract top talent in a competitive and dynamic industry?

There are some things you can do when looking for and qualifying for the right candidate. Grace Mason, Head of Sales at Betts Recruiting shared some of her best practices that will help you make hiring your competitive advantage.

Find the right candidate

While partnering with a recruitment agency can help you find some great candidates, it’s also important to be proactive about your recruiting efforts. “Implement an employee referral incentive program. Good people often know good people,” suggests Mason Tweet This. “This can help with retention. If your reps are referring their colleagues and friends to work at your company, they will likely stay at your company longer and also help get that rep up to speed with additional support.”

Another way to potentially find candidates, particularly if you need to hire several reps quickly, is by hosting a “Happy Hour” Tweet This. Mason suggests holding this after hours, bringing your entire team along as well. They can bring along referrals as well, and your recruiting firm can help you fill the room with potential candidates. It’s a good way to see how well each individual fits into the culture of your business and can cut down the number of phone screens you need to do when qualifying candidates.

Qualify candidates

Looking through hundreds of resumes can be overwhelming, but there are some things you can look out for that will help you qualify the candidate. “Look for any red flags on their resume. Overall does their resume make sense? For example, career progression or any job changes,” suggests Mason.

Checking things like tenure at their past companies; have they stayed for a while or been promoted? If their dates don’t line up or they move around a lot, that’s something to be aware of when deciding whether you want to progress to the next stage with a candidate.

“For sales roles specifically, metrics are probably the most important thing you need to look at when reviewing a candidate. So if they’re a sales rep, their resume should read like a baseball card.” Mason suggests looking at things like:

  • What was their quota?
  • What was their attainment of that quota?
  • What was their average deal size?
  • What big logos have they closed?

These are all indicators that will help you determine if the candidate may suit your business requirements.

The interview process

After making it through the initial qualification stage, you will need to interview the candidate. “Throughout the interview process it’s very important to focus on quality control as a hiring manager,” says Mason. So how do you conduct quality control checks?

  • While talking to the candidate, consider whether they will fit into the culture of the organization, and respond to your management style.
  • Challenge them on their numbers and do the math. Does their bonus equate with the quota attainment they’ve listed on their resume and their base salary and OTE?
  • Encourage them to interview you about your company so you can asses their long-term intentions and interest;
  • Find out why they want to leave their current organization, as under-performance is a leading reason why reps churn;
  • Ask them behavioral questions that give you an indication of how they would deal with specific situations, like “How would you approach a short sales cycle differently than a long sales cycle?” or “How do you research prospects before a call or meeting? What information do you look for?”; and
  • Find out what their future plans are by asking about their medium to long-term goals, and how they intend to achieve these.

Throughout the interview, always bring everything back to their resume; challenging the candidate on what they have included there. After all, if you’re recruiting a salesperson they will no doubt be good at selling themselves, so the interview process is about finding out what they have achieved and how they did it.