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Article 5 min read

How to develop an HR team that hires the best sales reps

Last updated November 29, 2021

Great sales reps can be the most important people in your business. The very best have tenacity, character and are self motivated. They also have to be smart, quick-witted and personable. 59% of customers get irritated by a generic pitch or worse, a salesperson reading a script. If your company has a strong team selling your products, you will benefit from sustainable growth and happy customers. If you have a weak sales team, profits will decline and your customers will find other suppliers.

With this in mind, your HR team needs effective hiring strategies when trying to attract the very best people to your business. This article details how to recruit sales people by posing key questions the recruiters should have in mind. We’ll also break down some of the personal characteristics your team should be looking for when hiring the very best sales reps.

First of all, recruitment is a two-way process. While your HR team is looking for the perfect sales candidate you need to be confident they are also offering an attractive package. Do you offer flexible working? Is the employer brand exciting? Potential candidates will be assessing your company as much as you are assessing them.

Your HR team should be employing exit interviews to continuously learn from existing sales staff. Those lessons can be used to make the working environment as attractive as possible to top new talent. If the HR team can demonstrate how your company is a good employer, a great place to work and a space for development and progression, attracting talent will be easier.

Understand the role

Are they persistent?

While it’s good having a well-written job spec and list of preferred qualities, HR staff need to understand the challenges, pitfalls and highs of a sales role to better understand who is suitable. Sales people typically have to make eight calls before connecting with a key decision-maker. This requires a certain level of positivity and enthusiasm that has to be present from the start.

Are they resilient?

Rejection is part of their daily routine. Prospects might be too busy, disinterested, or simply unwilling to talk. Sales people should have a thick skin and the confidence to power through such rejection. When a customer expresses an interest and wants to hear more, you need sales people who can convert that interest into a sale.

Can they deliver on-demand?

When they do start talking to an engaged prospect, they need to be on form. Contact with a total stranger can be daunting for anyone, but an effective salesperson needs to quickly put them at ease and establish rapport. It might be their 30th call that day but they must have a degree of charm and likeability that shines through every time.

Small talk is good

Are they confident communicators?

Recruiting sales people or hiring any member of staff should involve at least one face to face meeting. Often, recruiters have hours of interviews over a single day and want to skip the small talk. This is a mistake. Engaging in small talk is one of the effective hiring strategies HR teams need to lean into. It’s a perfect opportunity to discover how they might warm up a potential prospect before steering the conversation towards the matter at hand.

Do they put you at ease?

Your HR team should encourage small talk at the start of the interview to learn how a candidate puts you at ease and offers some insight into how their sales pitches might begin. While there are many different recruitment methods at play, the best thing your HR team can do is be present and ask themself if the candidate is making them feel comfortable and relaxed.

Are they listening?

In 2019 the Journal of Business Research published a paper asking if ‘listening was the holy grail of sales?’. The short answer was yes. The most effective sales people spend as much time listening as they do talking. Your HR team should be mindful of the job seeker’s ability to convey active and engaged listening. This includes repeating key phrases back to the interviewer and recalling earlier portions of the interview.

Competitive spirit

Do they really want it?

The sales representative hiring process demands that recruiters gauge the hunger and competitive energy in the candidate before them. The top talent will demonstrate throughout the recruitment process that they are eager, motivated and driven. How hard they fight for the job is an indicator of how hard they will fight for sales and commission.

Can they sustain their motivation?

When considering the pros and cons of candidates the recruiter should be mindful that they have to sustain their competitive edge every day. Questions about tenacity and their ability to stay motivated are key. If they can sell the company’s product or service for an extended period, the recruiter needs to know they have the inner ability to motivate themselves.

What drives them?

Just like your existing employees, what motivates your potential reps might be varied. Some enjoy the initial prospective research, others enjoy the small talk, while others love handling and overcoming customers’ objections. Success, sales, bonuses and salary are all factors too. All strategies to attract new employees should factor in what the job offers and if that is a good match for the needs of the candidate.

When considering how to recruit sales professionals it helps the HR team to understand the role, themselves. Ask yourself if there is an experienced and effective salesperson in your HR team? They will recognise the characteristics and traits that are most important throughout the sales process.

If the company is offering a good package and the candidate is allowed to shine, then figuring out how to hire a sales team doesn’t have to be daunting. The most effective salespeople have to be smart, confident and likeable. Traits that are easy to determine if your team is open and willing to stay on top of things.

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