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How to Hire a Salesperson if You've Never Done It Before

If you're not used to it, hiring salespeople can be a daunting task. Bad ones can sometimes do a pretty good job of slipping past a hiring managers. Salespeople -- even if they're terrible -- are uniquely positioned to "sell" themselves to interviewers. Separating the strong candidates from the weak ones isn't quite as simple as just asking the "right" questions. Instead, you have to dig deeper. Here are a handful of ideas...

  1. Interview former customers. When you're checking references, don't stop with managers or coworkers, ask to speak to satisfied clients. They're the ones whose impressions count the most.
  2. Check W2s. Knowing about a salesperson's past successes often comes down to the dollars-and-cents. How much a salesperson earned last year (and the years before) can give you an indication of future potential.
  3. Use experienced salespeople as screeners. Introduce candidates to your current salespeople. They can give you a quick read on whether they'll "fit." Of course, you might have to take these impressions with a grain of salt.
  4. Use sales assessments. It's always wise to use a sales assessment test to get a peak under the hood. And, when it comes to hiring salespeople, you've got to look far deeper than a quick and cheap assessment. Whole-person assessments are the only way to go.
  5. Ask to be sold. It's an old, but (surprisingly still) effective trick. Pick up something on your desk and ask your candidate to sell it to you. You're listening for them to ask you questions.
  6. Ask about failures. When have they failed? And, how? Confident salespeople are comfortable admitting defeat. You're not looking for a failure-proof salesperson. Why? Because they don't exist.
  7. Ask about good managers. Seek to understand what a good manager will do for them. Ask questions about what they want in a manager. Ask them to tell you about what great managers have done for them in the past. While you're at it, ask about bad ones, too.

Sure,hiring sales people can be awfully tough, but those sales success stories are just around the corner (if you follow this advice). - @JebBrooks