7 years ago
February 21, 2017

7 Mistakes Sales Managers Make When Hiring Sales Reps

Hiring sales reps is one of the toughest responsibilities that sales managers face. And they often make hiring mistakes, like these seven. Read on.

Rhys Metler


Hiring sales reps is no piece of cake. Many of the hiring decisions that sales managers make end up being bad ones. For one reason or another, the sales rep doesn’t work out, and it’s back to the hiring process once again.

To reduce your turnover and finally build the sales team that you need, you must stop making hiring mistakes.

The mistakes detailed below are common, but they can be costly.

1. Being Unprepared

Sales managers are busy, there’s no doubt about it. But using that as an excuse for not having time to read a candidate’s resume before an interview just isn’t acceptable. A proper resume review can give you a lot of insight into your candidates. It can help you see gaps in skills or experience and it can help you craft better interview questions. The resume can offer warning signs, but only if you actually look at it.

2. Not Using Hiring Tools

Hiring sales reps is hard, so it can be beneficial to leverage hiring tools to boost your chances of making better hiring decisions. Assessment tools, for example, can determine sales reps’ aptitude for selling, behavioural traits, and cultural fit. Using the data obtained from hiring tools can help sales managers make more informed hiring decisions, instead of hiring on gut feeling.

3. Asking the Wrong Interview Questions

Think about the last time you interviewed a sales candidate. What questions did you ask? Did you basically just ask the candidate to reiterate information about education, skills, and experience that you already knew from the person’s resume?

The interview is the time where you should ask probing questions that will give you a better look at the candidate’s personality to ensure that he or she has the right qualities not only to sell, but to sell for your unique organization. Go in depth in the interview, ask unusual questions, and use real-life situations.

4. Focusing Solely on Experience

When you only care if your candidates have x amount of experience when hiring sales reps, you’re missing out on big indicators of success—and it’s probably one of the main reasons why your turnover is high. Though experience is good to have, it isn’t everything. Sales skills can be learned, but your sales reps need to have the right personality to fit into your corporate culture if they’re going to last. Even if someone has a successful track record in sales, it doesn’t mean it’ll work out. You need to pay attention to coachability, flexibility, passion, eagerness to learn, collaboration skills, and decisiveness, too.

5. Not Checking References

Hopefully by now all sales managers know that they absolutely need to check references before hiring sales reps. But as we mentioned before, many sales managers are busy, and they might skip this step altogether. Unfortunately, this can lead to bad hiring decisions. All of your candidates should ideally bring three references for you to follow up on—one from a boss, one from a colleague, and one from a client. Getting sincere and honest opinions can help you make better decisions, instead of being fooled by a charming interviewee.

6. Making the Decision Alone

Sales managers often take on the job of hiring sales reps on their own, but many times, this leads to them hiring candidates who are similar to them—not sales reps who can actually sell and are the right fit. They let their personal feelings get in the way. The best sales managers will ask for a second opinion.

7. Not Considering the Type of Sales Person Needed

There are many different types of sales people. Some focus on prospecting, others on closing, and still others on proposal writing, relationship building, or new market expansion. Know what type of sales person you actually need for the open position, so you can hire someone with the right skills set.


Rhys Metler

Rhys is a tenacious, top performing Senior Sales Recruiter with 15+ 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 daughters, BBQing on a hot summer day and tropical vacations.