3 years ago
January 5, 2015

3 Most Important Things for HR to Know When Hiring Sales People

Sales hiring is an important skill to master for human resources professionals in organizations that use the HR department to hire sales people.

Rhys Metler

HR sales hiring is an important skill to master for human resources professionals working in organizations that use the HR department to hire sales people. While HR can be just as successful in hiring sales people as a dedicated sales hiring department or sales recruitment agency, however, there are major differences in hiring for sales against hiring for other departments. Hiring managers who are unaware of these differences may be facing pitfalls in HR sales hiring. Following are the three most important things to know about HR sales hiring.

HR Sales Hiring Tip #1: Sales People Know How to Sell – Including How to Sell Themselves in an Interview

Ask an HR manager how job candidates usually come across in an interview, and the answer will likely include “nervous,” “anxious,” or “restless.” This is not the case with sales people who have had experience in the field; these candidates will approach an HR sales hiring interview ready to make the close. HR professionals may be caught unprepared and believe that a candidate is a better sales person than he or she truly is based on the candidate’s ability to sell him or herself while answering the types of questions normally used to hire for other roles. Instead, HR sales hiring should:

  • Redesign the interview process and ask questions for HR sales hiring to measure a candidate’s competitiveness and desire to succeed, as well as his or her accomplishments.
  • Look for candidates who are focused on building relationships with prospects and clients, rather than on just making sales.
  • Never hire a candidate only because he or she was the best at interviewing. Focus instead on the candidate’s capabilities, experiences, and goals for much stronger HR sales hiring results.

HR Sales Hiring Tip #2: Sales Skills Are Measured and Tested Differently than Skills for Other Positions

For some roles, organizations might shy away from hiring a candidate coming from a company losing business in the face of competition. In sales, however, a candidate who has been posting strong sales numbers at a company valued as “less” worthy than its competitors is one that should be interviewed quickly; such a candidate must be good at sales to have succeeded where others failed. With that in mind, HR sales hiring should recognize that the skills and knowledge sales candidates have can’t be measured by the same benchmarks as used for other roles.

  • Invest in sales skills testing specifically developed for sales people; the investment will pay for itself if you avoid one bad hire.
  • Ask candidates to furnish documentation of past quotas and results in addition to discussing these accomplishments.
  • Always check at least three references from a sales candidate, since sales references from past managers and clients are among the strongest proofs of sales ability.

HR Sales Hiring Tip #3: Hiring a Great Sales Person Should Be Based on More than Numbers

Great sales people can do more than just sell; they are also pleasant to work with, a fit with the company culture, and have clear career goals. Great sales people should also be able to engage their peers and demonstrate core leadership aptitudes. This draws on many of the same skills as closing a sale, but is far from the same concept. By orienting HR sales hiring around finding and capturing candidates with leadership abilities, an organization can save itself costs become more efficient in the long run; as difficult as it is to hire a strong sales person, it is even more difficult to make an external hire for a strong sales manager.

If your organization is struggling with HR sales hiring, an experienced sales recruitment agency can help improve your sales hiring process and results. Consider using a sales recruitment agency as a consultant and business partner to avoid these HR sales hiring pitfalls.

Rhys Metler

Rhys is a tenacious, top performing Senior Sales Recruiter with 11+ years of focused experience in the Digital Media, Mobile, Software, Technology and B2B verticals. He has a successful track record of headhunting top performing sales candidates for some of the most exciting brands in North America. He is a Certified Recruitment Specialist (CRS) and has expert experience in prospecting new business, client retention/renewals and managing top performing sales and recruitment teams. Rhys enjoys spending quality time with his wife, son, and two daughters, BBQing on a hot summer day, tropical vacations and cottaging.