5 years ago
June 18, 2019

5 Ways to Separate the Sales Candidate Contenders From the Pretenders

All sales companies want to find the best sales candidate possible. As sales recruiters, we know the hiring process requires a lot of work and effort to get it right….

Rhys Metler

All sales companies want to find the best sales candidate possible. As sales recruiters, we know the hiring process requires a lot of work and effort to get it right. You need to know who you are looking for and have a strong recruiting process to attract the right type of candidate.

Most jobs receive applications from all types of candidates. Most are pretenders and some are contenders. There are unqualified candidates, those who are somewhat qualified, and those who are the real contenders for the job.

But separating the contenders from the pretenders is not as easy as it sounds. It’s a challenge to separate fact from fiction, see who’s a real potential fit, and who you should move on from. Many pretenders appear to be the real deal. There are many sales professionals who are great in the interview but fail to follow it up with performance once on the job.

If there is any professional who could convince you they are the best candidate for the job even though they may lack some important qualifications, it’s sales professionals.

How Do You Know If You Have a Sales Candidate Contender?

A contending sales candidate for one organization may not be one for another. How you define who you are looking for plays a big role in your search. Every company is looking for certain things in candidates based on the type of job, industry, and organizational culture.

In general, a top candidate will have important career milestones, they will show a career progression and they will be able to back up claims about their experience with real proof – statistics, reports, references, and more quantifiable measurements.

If a candidate has the skills and experience and can back it up, then you may have a top contender – a candidate worth interviewing and looking into in great detail.

How to Separate Sales Candidates to Find the Top Contenders

Pretenders can take up a lot of your time during the hiring process. You don’t want to be spending your time with pretenders when you could be interviewing someone who could be a strong contender. Here are a number of ways to see the forest for the trees and separate the contenders from the pretenders:

1. Focus on Contributions and Results

One of the top ways to identify a contender is how they frame their resume and cover letter. They frame things in terms of how they have contributed to the organization and the results they have achieved. Pretenders tend to focus more on skills and traits and what they can bring to the table. This distinction can make a big difference in a sales candidate’s ability to do the job.

Look for candidates who talk about how they have increased revenue, closed more sales, and made the company more efficient, and who uses analytics and stats to back it up.

2. Start With a Phone Interview to Pre-Screen Candidates

While this may be more of a functional way to vet candidates, it’s always a good idea to use an efficient way to initially screen candidates. A quick phone interview is an effective way to make the first cut. After a few minutes on the phone, you will quickly learn more about the candidate and get more information about what they have stated in their resume. While it may add some time to the process overall, you can gain more insights and make a better decision about the candidates you want to pursue further.

3. Eliminate Those Who Don’t Follow the Application Instructions

Top candidates and those who really want the job will pay attention to the smaller details. They will follow the application process carefully and make sure they include all the necessary information. If a candidate doesn’t follow the simple instructions you provided to apply for the job, they will likely operate in the same manner if you hired them for the job – making them a pretender.

4. Compare Candidates to Your Ideal Candidate Profile

Who do you want to hire? If you can’t answer this question then you will struggle to differentiate between candidates. You have to know what you are looking for and compare each candidate to your ideal candidate profile. If they don’t meet most of your criteria, they are more than likely a pretender.


Sales recruiters looking for an ideal candidate


5. Get a Second Opinion

It’s always good to get an outside opinion during the hiring process. You could enlist the help of a sales recruiter who specializes in the industry. You could also look internally and ask the opinion of a sales manager or other sales professionals who have knowledge of the position. They may be able to provide some insights into specific skills or traits a candidate needs to be successful in the job. It’s also good just to have a second set of eyes take a look at the candidates and get more input.

More Hiring Tips From Toronto Sales Recruiters to Find the Best Sales Candidates

Looking for more tips to improve your hiring process in the sales industry? Check out these great blogs that are packed with insightful advice and tips to help you find the best sales talent:

5 Unhirable Candidate Habits to Watch Out for During Interviews

Why Hiring Mistakes in Sales Are Even More Costly Than You Think

Don’t Make These Hiring Mistakes! 4 Mistakes Sales Recruiters Should Avoid in an Interview

5 Unprofessional Habits That Kill Your Chances of Getting the Best Candidate

Recruit the Best Sales Reps Using These Interview Questions

Talentology: 4 Tips to Hire Top Sales Talent


SalesForce Search is a Toronto sales recruiting company which specializes in the recruitment and placement of sales professionals. We recruit salespeople in every sector of the economy including, software, manufacturing, financial services and medical devices. Find the right salesperson for your organization, start your search here.

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.