Recruiting Your First Sales Representative

You don’t have a sales team yet, so where do you start?
The first step is to find good candidates. You could certainly advertise for a salesperson on a site such as Craigslist or others, but you will likely receive an enormous pile of resumes. Given that some people tend to misrepresent their experience, it can be difficult to decide who you even want to interview.
Another approach would be to ask around. Use your network to see who might be looking for a new sales position. Often associates, colleagues, suppliers, and other contacts can provide leads on some good candidates.
Before you narrow down your list of potential candidates to interview, it’s important to ask yourself exactly what characteristics you’re looking for.
Experience is valuable, of course – especially someone with experience in your industry. But you’re also looking for someone who could fit well within your organization, has demonstrated a passion for selling, and shows a desire to learn from their co-workers and your experience.
Think of some tough questions to ask. Consider asking candidates how they would handle a specific type of lead or customer. How would they establish rapport? What techniques do they find successful in following up leads and closing a sale?
You might even ask candidates to sell to you. For example, if you're in the appliance business, ask the candidate to sell you a washing machine.
It’s also a very positive sign if the candidate asks you many questions. After all, good salespeople ask questions. Does the candidate seem to want to get to know you? That’s a sign of good salesmanship that could reflect well on that candidate.

Game Plan

  • Generate a list of candidates, either through advertising, or even better, by asking your network for leads.
  • Decide what specific characteristics you’re looking for in a salesperson.
  • Develop a list of questions you want to ask during your interview.
  • Get specific advice on hiring your first salesperson. This post from Social-Hire, and this advice on “traps to avoid” from Inc. Magazine each address the importance of that first hire.
  • Remember to be cautious about hiring a great candidate on the spot. 
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