How To Hire Great Sales Executives For Your Business?

Sales is a diverse field. It’s important to identify the ideal candidate with the right sales background, experience and skills. This hunt is similar to approaching prospective customers. If you’ve found an ideal candidate, seek them aggressively. This activity must lead your sales process.

There is no business without sales and there are no sales without good sales reps. If sales is the heart of a business, then, sales reps are its heartbeat. This simple analogy explains the importance of sales for a business. And, something that’s important shouldn’t be taken lightly.

Every firm needs an efficient plan for hiring sales executives, to survive and thrive. According to market trends, the average annual attrition rate in sales is around 25%. This means that in your sales team of 10 sales reps, 3 will leave your company within one year.

Hiring smart and well is the right way to check your attrition rate and increase your sales performance. Today, we will discuss tips that can aid in hiring sales executives for your business. If you are part of the HR team or the firm’s sales team and play a part in interviewing candidates who apply for sales roles, this is for you. Alternatively, if you have recruitment agencies doing this for you, it is still good to be aware of effective hiring practices.

Create a recruitment profile

Sales is a diverse field. And, every sales executive is different from another. That is why it is important to identify the ideal candidate with the right sales background, experience and skills necessary for the job/role. This hunt is similar to approaching prospective customers. And, if you’ve found your ideal candidate, it is advised to seek them aggressively. This activity must lead your sales process.

Now, how will you determine what traits you want in your ideal candidate? The answer is simple. Analyse the top performers in your sales team and ask the following questions.

  • What are the common traits that give them success?
  • What motivates them?
  • What is their selling style?
  • What is their sales industry background?

The answer to these questions can help you funnel down your requirements and shortlist that ideal candidate while hiring sales executives. According to research, the 5 traits commonly found in successful sales executives include:

  1. Curiosity: They are forever curious and interested in getting more Information about the prospects. They always ask probing and layered questions.
  2. Hardworking: They are always ready to put in that extra effort to succeed.
  3. Intelligent: They master the subject and are smart in their operations.
  4. Successful past records: They have a successful track record in every endeavour they pursue, be it sports, academics or previous sales jobs.
  5. Receptive to feedback: They respond well to feedback, absorb it and apply it well in their job.

Job description

One of your sales goals must be to invest your time to create an attractive and engaging job description: one that is written well, sells the company and describes the position accurately. The common mistakes that you should avoid include:

  • Borrowing job descriptions in pieces and stitching them together: Your copy and paste endeavour may save time, but the end product is usually boring and too generic. If you are part of the HR team, here’s our suggestion: seek references but always describe the role yourself.
  • Writing unrealistic work experience and desired skills: If your job description is too perfect to be true, it will probably scare off prospective candidates. After all, there is no such thing as a perfect candidate.

Group your demands and requirements into various categories, such as preferred, required and bonus. This will clearly state your requirements, and the candidates who meet the criteria 60% or more will apply. Remember this as you build your hiring or business strategy.

  • Using jargons and vague terms: Adjectives such as “self-starter”, “strong business acumen”, “motivated”, are overused in job descriptions and may have become meaningless. The key lies in being specific. While hiring, be straightforward, simple and honest in your description.

It doesn’t sound desirable: Always remember that you want the best candidate for the job. So, add the reasons that make this role a big opportunity. Add things like perks, company culture, career growth, competitive salary, better work environment, well-incentivised sales goals or targets, etc.

Develop your pipeline

So you’ve written a quick description of the sales role and posted it on almost all job portals. Now, you are waiting for the responses to pour in. You may achieve the numbers in terms of quantity, but the quality of such prospects can be disappointing. This would make you want to sort out the heap, which would affect your hiring or business strategy. Quality recruitment begins by intentionally developing your pipeline.

Try out different job recruitment channels to find out which one is the most effective. And accordingly, invest in that option to proactively search for candidates that suit your requirement and are looking for better job opportunities.

The different channels that you can approach while hiring sales executives include sales managers, referrals, social media platforms like Linkedin, recruitment agencies, traditional job portals and niche job portals.

Screen applicants

Screening is the way to further funnel down your hunt for the ideal sales executive. It saves a lot of time during the interview process. You can screen candidates with a virtual or phone screening interview, which may include an online written assignment or a phone interview that may last for about 10 minutes.

Each type of screening process has its advantages. The screening process will help you gauge the candidates on abilities critical for sales, such as effective speaking, quick thinking, and rapport building.

Ask your applicants to do a mock presentation

A candidate applying for a sales rep job should possess excellent presentation skills. You must analyse their presentation skills before going forward with the actual interview.

For fresh candidates for a sales role, presentation skills may not be that important as they can be taught on the job. But, if an experienced sales rep candidate falters with the presentation, that is a certain red flag about their capabilities. Either way, both cases will help you examine how much time they’ve invested in preparing for the opening.

The simplest way to do this is by giving them a product to sell. And asking them various open-ended questions to check their skills on various aspects of the sales processes, such as:

  • Confidence
  • Objection handling
  • Addressing objections
  • Probing questions
  • Rapport building
  • Personalization
  • Closing pitch
  • Follow-up

The interview

Once you have screened the candidates on various parameters, you call the most desirable candidates for the interview. However, we cannot predict an individual’s capability accurately during a face-to-face interview. A recent study has shown that the validity or success of an unstructured interview is only about 20%. And this can affect your hiring or business strategy.

So, increase your success rate and create a standard interview pattern. The HR team must adopt a uniform list of questions and a scorecard during each interview. If there are multiple interview rounds, the scores can be collated to find the ideal candidates. This discounts any kind of bias or subjectivity from the hiring process.

Ask hypothetical questions; pose “what if” scenarios and gauge the candidates’ response. Ask questions that will help you examine their selling skills and knowledge of all aspects of the sales process. Ask open-ended questions about their sales goals, motivation, personality and behaviour and analyze them on their responses. This will help you score the sales rep candidates correctly.

Make the offer

Finally, after reaching the final part of the interview process, discuss the pros and cons with all decision-makers, before making the offer. An extensive discussion beforehand is better than an expensive rehire. Recruitment agencies and most employers agree that nothing is more expensive and time-consuming than hiring a wrong candidate, ousting them and searching for a replacement.

Encourage an open discussion and allow every member to voice their concerns and reservations. Only then make the offer. Most employers first make the offer over the phone. And, if the applicant accepts the verbal offer, follow it up with the offer letter. This makes the process more efficient. It also gives room for negotiations.

In conclusion, the success of every recruitment strategy for a sales process depends on its effective execution and monitoring. This will help you find and fix the loopholes to make the process more efficient. The main objective is to proactively find, approach and acquire the right sales executive for your business.

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One of the prime contributors for this blog, Expertise in Staffing and Recruitment, Content Strategist by Profession. A Music Lover & Traveller by Choice.

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