How to hire sales people (or anyone)

Editors Note: This is a repost of a guest post I did for CloserIQ here.

The only thing more important than hiring great front line managers, is knowing how to hire great sales people. We know that HR should focus on these areas, among others, but no amount of incredible management or training can over-come hiring the wrong people for the role, so don’t put yourself in that position without thinking through the following steps first!

  • Have a process
  • Build a profile based on current successful sellers
  • Evaluate candidates against that profile
  • Take detailed notes, include risks
  • Discuss candidates as a team to align
  • Review 3-6 months after hire
  • Revise hiring profile
  • Rinse / repeat

Have a Process

Candidates should be getting the same experience in order for you to be able to expect consistent results. Although you can pick and choose candidates from whatever platforms you like, the selection process should be the same. Besides this, consider having a precise yet concise job description handy, so that you can use portals such as EmploySee to accurately target people with the qualifications and traits you need. Read further on this informative page as to how that can help you get more reliable leads.

Build a profile based on current successful sellers

Look at the people that are succeeding on your sales floor and figure out what they have in common. Look at the people that are failing, find out what they have in common. Remove the failure traits from the successful traits, and you have the minimum list of traits you should be interviewing and selecting for. The goal should be narrowing it down to 3-4 traits.

Successful Traits – Unsuccessful traits = Hiring Profile

Pro Tip: Do not start by just writing out a list of the things that you would like in a hire. This is a wish list based on theory, not a checklist of traits based on actual success on the floor.

Evaluate candidates against profile

It’s harder than it looks… What questions are best for uncovering what traits? What constitutes of evidence when claiming someone has a certain trait? Does having stayed late once in their previous career demonstrate the type of drive you need in this role?

Once you’ve learned what questions to ask, and where the bar is for each trait, then you need to train the interview team. Your hiring results will only be as good as your weakest interviewer, so make sure everyone learns the same skills.

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Take detailed notes

After a long interview I can barely remember specific details. Imagine how tough this is after 3 or 4 in a row. Take detailed notes around the questions you asked, what the answer was, and whether or not you believe it indicates that a candidate has a particular hiring trait.

Once you’ve done 100s of interviews for a profile you can do away with notes, but it’s critical for optimizing a profile and making sure each interviewer is aligned in the beginning.

Align: discuss candidates as a team

For candidates that saw multiple interviewers, sit in a room and discuss what you uncovered about that candidate in regards to each trait. See where people disagree, learn new questions, observe how the same candidate can interview completely differently depending on the interviewer.

Quarterly Hire Review

Every quarter review the people that have been hired, compare them to your hiring profile, and review your notes from the original interviews. Start with the traits, figure out which traits they have based on their time working in the office, and how those traits compare to what you expected based on the interview. Did you miss any traits completely? Look back at the notes that where taken, figure out if your read from the interview was accurate. This is a HUGE opportunity for learning, and the best way to calibrate a hiring process.

Revise Hiring Profile

Take the lessons learned from your quarterly hire review, and build them back into the profile. On the extreme end of the scale, you might have completely missed on a trait, and you could change hiring traits completely. On the more nuanced side of things, you might just realize that you don’t have great questions to get to the bottom of a trait, and as you learn over time you can improve them.


Rinse and repeat.

Hiring anyone is easy, you’re effectively just giving a way money… Hiring the right people is hard. Have a process and improve that process over time.