3 years ago
January 6, 2015

5 Tips for HR When Hiring Sales People

Five tips for HR professionals for hiring sales people.

Rhys Metler

Let’s be honest. Sales people are different. They are the people that look like they aren’t doing much, getting paid a lot of money and most other people within your organization don’t understand what they do on a daily basis. All you know is somehow business comes in the front door because of their efforts. So, if you are in HR or haven’t been in sales directly, how do you find out in an interview, who is a good sales person and who isn’t? How do you know which traits are important and how do you assess for selling skills?

Here are 5 helpful hints when interviewing and hiring sales people:

1. Good Sales People Ask Questions.

Ask them what five key questions they ask potential costomers, and what information they need to fully qualify a sales prospect. They should be able to quickly tell you what questions they ask which should include:

  • Do they have a sales budget?
  • Does the person they met with have the authority to make the buying decision?
  • What time frame will they need to make a decision?

2. Good Salespeople are Good Listeners.

Many people think that all sales people are great talkers, and this is partly true; a reason many salespeople enjoy selling is that they enjoy talking to people and getting to speak with their customers every day is why they enjoy selling. What sets great salespeople apart from their peers is that they are also great listeners, and really take the time to understand their business needs. Rather than trying to prove what makes their product or service the best option right away, great salespeople find out why their product or service is right for you by finding out what your problems are. Once they know how they can help you, they’ll tell you and then begin their sales pitch. 

3. Good Salespeople are Resourcesful

Good salespeople are able to find a way to close the deal when obstacles come up in the sales process. They are good problem solvers and can find solutions to most problems that come between them and making a sale. Some questions to ask to test a candidate’s resourcefulness could be:

  • Describe a situation with a client or prospect where you made a mistake. How did you handle the error?
  • Describe a couple of instances, big or small, where you took a different approach in achieving an objective that what was the company standard.

4. Good Salespeople have a Great Attitude

The best salespeople are the ones who can fight through denial and negativity and always put their best face forward for their next sales call. We have a saying: hire for attitude and train for skill. You would be better off investing in a salesperson who has little sales experience with a great attitude  that hiring someone with a poor attitude and sales experience. 

5. Good Salespeople bring Results

One of the biggest indicators of a salesperson’s abilities is that great interviews will always talk about their results and accounts they have won, while average sales people will talk about the tasks that they go through in their day. Asking a candidate detailed questions about their sales numbers and hold them accountable to their answers. If you sense that a candidate is being cagey with their responses, be sure to press and go deeper in your questioning; poor sales candidates will say that they don’t remember what their numbers were, while good ones will be able to tell you very quickly how they performed in past years. Ask for a reference from a sales manager after asking these questions and be sure to verify their answers. 

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.