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Hire Your Sales Dream Team: Tips From The Experts

Sales Recuiting Tips from the Experts

Achieving big sales is no easy feat and doing it consistently is rare. A significant piece of the sales management success recipe and one of the most challenging aspects of driving superior sales results is hiring the the right sales people.

We extracted what the top sales experts had to say on sales hiring and building a high performance sales force. Their wisdom and insights bring stunning clarity for anyone interested in hiring the right sales people.

Engage Selling

Colleen Francis @engagecolleen

“You say it to your sales team all the time: “ABC. Always be closing.” Well, as a sales leader, I’d recommend that you adopt a slightly different mantra for yourself: ABR: Always be recruiting. Many sales managers settle into complacency when their team is performing well, or recruiting falls by the wayside when there’s too much else on their plates. But in reality, it’s essential to constantly have recruiting on your to-do list.”

Source – Recruiting Great Salespeople


Cameron HeroldCameron Herold @CameronHerold 

“When you’re hiring – HIRE.  Business is a full contact sport.  Don’t ‘hope’ great people join the company.  If you have them in your sights – land them.  NOW.”

Source – Don’t Make This Mistake


Miller Heiman Joe Galvin @joegalvin 

“World-Class Sales Organizations recognize the value of the talent they acquire and the importance of continued development. They have a core competency in identifying and hiring talent that will thrive in their environment. They also recognize that professional development is crucial to improving sales performance and helping them retain the best people.”

Source  – Talent Management : Making Good Better


20 GarhardGerhard Gschwandtner  @gerhard20  

“How can sales leaders mitigate the danger of making an unwise hiring investment? One of the best ways to find out what’s really behind a stellar resume and great interview skills is to talk with people the rep has actually worked for or with.”

Source – Stop Hiring the Wrong Sales Rep


Konrath JillJill Konrath @jillkonrath

“Many people are under the mistaken belief that salespeople are born, not made. I wholeheartedly disagree – and I speak from personal experience. I’m an introvert who initially detested salespeople and their manipulative techniques.”

Source – Interview Questions


Stein DaveDave Stein @davestei

“I insist on background checks for sales (and any other) candidates. I don’t care how much they’ve sold, whom they worked for, who recommends them, and how well they do during the recruitment and selection process.”

Source – I’ll Never Make That Hiring Mistake Again. Ever.


Bertuzzi Trish Trish Bertuzzi @bridgegroupinc

“Hiring great Inside Sales reps has never been harder. Increased competition for top talent and supply lagging behind demand means that when we land that great rep we have to make their experience with us outstanding! It is as much about retention as recruitment, right? Sales and Marketing leaders are making a strategic investment in their hiring process and then undermining it with a tactical on-boarding process.”

Source – 8 Key Ingredients in Hire- Revenue On-boarding


Barry Trailer & Jim Dickie @BarryTrailer & @jimdickie Trailer Barry  Dickie Jim

“A question we should be asking and answering honestly is, “Are the people we have in sales today here because of what we did for them over the past two years, or in spite of what we did for them?” If you cannot tick off a half-dozen things you did to enable sales reps to sell in tough markets—increased levels of sales ready leads, on-demand and improved training, access to new sales tools, etc.,—you may have created an environment that will make your experienced, productive reps ready to consider alternative jobs when recruiters start calling.”


James GeoffreyGeoffrey James @Sales_Source 

“Study your best employees to determine the characteristics that differentiate them from the average ones. Find out what drives your best people to be the best. Discover which talents and skills are crucial to success in your unique business environment. Then create interview questions that will reveal whether the candidate can be exceptional in your specific organization.”

Source – How to Hire Extraordinary Employees – 7 Rules


Alexander GregGreg Alexander @GregAlexander 

“Top sales candidates are discerning. To land them, you have to know what turns them off. If they encounter certain signals, they may cross your company off the list. The hiring process contains many factors- any one of which could be negatively perceived. Then you lose the candidate.”

Source – Why Top Sales Candidates Bail From Your Hiring Process


Suster MarkMark Suster @msuster

“Sales people are sales people. They are the lifeblood of many companies yet they are different than the traditional technology start-up DNA so the ways that you hire, motivate, compensate and assess performance of these individuals will be different.”

Source – Helping Start-Ups Understand Salespeople and the Sales Culture


Ross AaronAaron Ross @motoceo

“Follow a multi-step process. It will keep you sane, ensure you don’t make dumb mistakes, and create a better experience for everyone involved – candidates, you and your team.  Most importantly, it can help you avoid impulsive / impatient hiring.”

Source – A Neat Recruiting Process Paul Fifield of Ceros Used to Hire Sales Stars & Speed Up Results


Zoltners AndyAndy Zoltners @ZSAssociates

“When it comes to hiring sales talent, most companies prefer to “buy” instead of “build.” But experience alone is not a sufficient predictor of who will be successful in a sales role. You can develop competencies with the right training, mentoring, coaching, support, and motivation programs. But to get characteristics, you have to hire the right individuals. In the words of one sales leader, “You can’t send a duck to eagle school.” According to another, “Although you can teach a turkey to climb a tree, it’s much easier to hire a squirrel.”

Source – In Sales hire For Personality , Then Train for Skill


Adler LouLou Adler @LouA  

“When writing job postings and emails, capture the magic in the job by emphasizing what the person will be learning and doing and what he or she could become if successful. This is how you attract the best people.”

Source – How to Write Job Postings that Compel the Best to Apply


Young ChrisChris Young @theRainmaker 

“Many small to mid-sized companies live in “La-La Land” when it comes to hiring salespeople.  They hire from the gut until they are forced by competition or frustration to hire quality sales talent on a consistent basis.”

Source – What Bad Sales Hiring Decisions Really Cost You


Salz LeeLee Salz @SalesArchitects

“Think you just hired a great salesperson? You didn’t. You hired a salesperson with the potential to be great on your sales team. That potential is only achieved when a structured on-boarding program is in place.”

Source – Sales Onboarding and Enablement For Your New Employees


Sales BenchMark IndexDan Perry @DanPerrySBI

“Hiring ‘A’ players is difficult.  But the reward is worth the pain.  We estimate the cost of mis-hiring can range from $150,000 to $750,000.  Using a defined method for hiring reduces this pain to hire.   And don’t reinvent the wheel. Use a proven method for your hiring process.”

Source – The One Thing You Cannot Skip When Hiring an “A” Player


Mache ChuckChuck Mache @chuckmachecomm 

“Define your value proposition. Why should someone consider working for your firm? The better candidates have options these days, so you need to determine how to differentiate your firm from the competition. Can your firm pass the comparison test?”

Source – 5 Essentials for Recruiting Success


Werth JacquesJacques Werth  @JacquesWerth

“In most of the companies that I have managed, or consulted for, the top 5% percent of sales producers sold upwards of 35% of all revenues. Thus, *hiring* just one more super-star is worth the fee of a head-hunter that knows the industry. Before they are hired, get a behavioral profile to be sure that the salesperson will be entirely compatible with the company’s culture. On average, the performance of the candidates that were profiled and hired have been upwards of the top 85% of the sales force.”

Source – What have you found to be the best methods for finding superstar salespeople?


Shane GibsonShane Gibson @shanegibson 

“Organizations that really have their sales performance strategy together will be driving forward with both training and coaching working synergistically. Each plays an important role in maintaining competitiveness, motivation and retaining star players.”

Source – Sales Training VS Sales Coaching OR Cut Them Both?


Lee KendraKendra Lee @KendraLeeKLA

“Do your homework. Salespeople are a big investment. Even a great performer who hits the ground running is going to take up a certain amount of your time and available cash. With that in mind, don’t skimp on relevant background information like skills assessments, references, W2s, and even outside interviewers.”

Source – How Many Salespeople Do You Have to Hire to Find the Right One?


Robertson KelleyKelley Robertson @Kel_Robertson

“It is not uncommon for sales managers to race through the recruiting process in an effort to quickly hire someone because they need a rep in place. After all, hiring reps is seldom a task that managers enjoy. In these situations, managers focus on the positive aspects of the applicant and neglect to see their possible shortcomings. This often leads to “hiring remorse” once they discover that the rep is not entirely suitable.”

Source – 15 Hiring Mistakes for Sales Manages to Avoid


Hart GaryGary Hart @SalesDuJour

“Sales people are money machines. Without sales you have no company. You need good salespeople. And like good technology and equipment, good sales people cost money. Focus on the big pictures, your vision to be a successful company. Build a top performing sales team. Build a money machine. Build it wisely with an intelligent compensation package and give the support they need to be the best sales team in your industry.”


Richardson LoriLori Richardson @scoremoresales 

“Keep assessment tools in mind when hiring – they are getting easier and are less costly with quicker results and a very high rate of accuracy.”

Source  – Listen to Your Gut : Statistics in Sales


Toman Nick
Dixon MattNick Toman & Matt Dixon @nick_toman & @matthewxdixon 

“Here’s an idea to consider: what if I told you that the best salespeople for today’s complex sale are currently employed as teachers, engineers, or other knowledge workers? In fact, they have no inclination towards sales, but they love to share ideas, they love to challenge others’ thinking, they love to see the outcomes of their work, and help others. What if I told you that those characteristics rarely co-exist in the candidates you’re currently screening who are opting into sales roles? Would you believe me? It kind of gets you thinking doesn’t it?”

Source – 10 Trends Every Sales Exec, Leader and CEO Must Know for 2013


Adamson BrentBrent Adamson @brentadamson

“In a recent survey most sales leaders reported that only two-thirds of sellers in their organizations have the potential to adopt insight selling behaviors. When you couple this with the issue of an aging sales force, hiring quality sales talent has become a pressing issue for most organizations. However, before you even get started on hiring Challengers, you first need to encourage them to apply. Most sales organizations’ job postings today fail to attract Challengers as they do not reflect the right skill sets or employee value propositions that attract candidates with Challenger potential.”

Source – Want to Hire Challengers? Redesign Your Job Postings


Hoffman Jeffrey M.MJ Hoffman @mjhoffman

“I always ask for reference checks, but never of people who they worked for or with. Rather, I ask for references from people they closed. I will ask for the names and numbers of three people they closed in the past year to find out what type of sales person the candidate is. I have never had a hire who gave me customer references and a history of achievement who didn’t end up being a great hire.”

Source – Strictly Sales : Hiring Top Sales Talent and Advice on Entry Level Sales Jobs


Rosen KeithKeith Rosen @KeithRosen 

“Ironically, the very thing which has been proven time and time again to have the greatest impact on people’s motivation, trust, commitment, loyalty and work ethic is what people want most, even more than money. That is, recognition, acknowledgement, being part of something, being included, having a purpose; even more responsibility around something they value and feel is important to the company and to themselves. There’s no reason to be stingy with our acknowledgment.”

Source – Motivating People Through Specific Supportive Praise


Riesterer TimTim Riesterer @TRiesterer

“What you need is a bit of excitement or sizzle in your sales training and on-boarding curriculum. Salespeople are very emotional. They love to be fired up. They took a new job for something fresh. Give them a new set of skills that will challenge them and get them engaged with telling your story right away.”


Ruff RichardRichard Ruff @saleshorizons 

“One of the main reasons top sales performers leave organizations is the lack of opportunities for personal development. This is particularly true among younger sales professionals in the Millennial generation.”

Source – Are You Coaching You Tops Sales Reps?  – An STC Classic


Hopkins TomTom Hopkins @TomHopkinsSales

“In the first year of employment, the most common reason for turnover on a sales team is that expectations are not met. Either the salespeople quit or you let them go. On-boarding helps to minimize those instances, which impacts both the top and bottom line of the company.”

Source – 9 Results you Can Expect From Sales Onboarding


Weinberg MikeMike Weinberg @mike_weinberg

 “One of the best ways to improve your interviewing results is to team up with someone with a complementary (read opposite) personality and approach. Partner up with someone you trust who is more analytical and less trusting than you are. While one of you asks questions, the other observes, takes notes, and then asks follow up questions. You will be amazed at what you uncover.”

Source – Stop Fooling Yourself into Bad Sales Hire (Guest Post From A-Player Talent Guru)


Duncan ToddTodd Duncan @toddstweets

“My experience as a recruiter and leader of sales professionals has taught me that your vision must be the centerpiece of your recruiting strategy. Vision highlights your long-term strategy as it relates to culture, key areas of development and major goals. Focusing your recruiting message on your vision and finding loan officers that are a match for your long-term strategy (rather than benefits alone) will decrease employee turnover and quickly connect new team members to your branch’s overall purpose.”


Heinz MattMatt Heinz @HeinzMarketing

“When hiring a new sales manager, it’s easy to gloss over a candidate’s resume and LinkedIn profile and get excited about his or her past experience. But hidden in most resumes and online profiles are red flags that can eliminate candidates before the interview process even begins.”

Source – 5 LinkedIn Tips to Hire Better Sales Managers


Waldschmidt DanDan Waldschmidt – @DanWaldo

“Hire for attitude and fire sales executives who don’t “get it”.  Make new hires interview with your entire team.”

Source – How to Avoid Hiring Super Star Sales Losers


Shamus BrownShamus Brown @ShamelessShamus

“Don’t hire sales people too early.  In the early days, the founders should be able to sell (and should be selling).  Don’t hire several sales people at once.  Your goal is to figure out the “pattern” of what kinds of people are best based on what you’re selling and who you’re selling it to.  You need some feedback from the system so you can continue to iterate on your hires.”

Source  – Building Start-up Sales Teams: Tips for Founders


Slayton DoyleDoyle Slayton @SalesBlogcast

“Studies show a quarter of salespeople shouldn’t be involved in selling at all, and almost half should be in a different type of sales. It’s tough to tell salespeople apart when so many look similar from the outside. Resilience is one of the biggest factors in a hunter’s success. The best way to determine resiliency is to have the candidate demonstrate the skill.”

Source – Sales Thoroughbreds: The Key to Winning New Business


Blount JebJeb Blount @SalesGravy

“Choose your recruits carefully – make sure they are a “fit” for direct selling. Don’t compound the bad reputation of MLM companies by “recruiting” anyone who breathes. Select people carefully who really are a good fit for that business model. You will reduce your headaches by choosing people who are outgoing, self-starters, and have a track record of success.”

Source – 3 Ways to Rocket Forward in Sales


Rosenberg CraigCraig Rosenberg @funnelholic

“The people make a sales team. Process supports them, but human execution is the key factor. Even if I am at a large organization, I want my team to be disruptive, admired and remembered for over-achievement. That means I have to assemble a team of “A” players.  The “Andreessen Three” as I call them have become my guiding principals.”

Source –The 3 Keys to Hiring Success: Thank You  Marc Andreesse


Daly JackJack Daly @ironmanjack

“Prepare the desk, chair, computer, supplies and tools well before the new hire arrives. Save the HR paperwork for a few days and instead adorn the space with balloons and greeting cards from the rest of the team. A lunch celebration, and maybe even a welcome bottle of wine or suitable gift from the boss, is sure to add to an amazing first day memory that will get the employment journey off on the right foot.”

Source – How New Employees Succeed From Day One


Altschuler MaxMax Altschuler  @MaxAlts   

“It’s always good when you find somebody who has a chip on their shoulder and they can use it in the right way. You want that hunger without the vengeance though. The best sales people and entrepreneurs are those who came from nothing, with that chip on their shoulder, and have nothing to lose and everything to prove.”

Source – How to Network Like a True Sales Hacker with Max Altschuler


Barrows JohnJohn Barrows @johnmbarrows

“Harvard did a study a while back on the characteristics of great sales professionals, interviewing the best ones in the country and their hiring managers. One of the characteristics they identified was ‘impeccable honesty.’ This might seem at odds with most non-sales people’s perception of “sales reps” but it is absolutely necessary to be truly successful in this great profession.”

Source – Impeccable Honesty


Bellah ButchButch Bellah @salespowertips

“Check references-I am continually surprised at how many people don’t bother to check references. ALWAYS check. Even if the other party requires a request in writing for legal reasons, do it.”

Source – Power Tips for Hiring Superstars


Brock DaveDavid Brock 

“If ever there was a time to be prepared, if ever there was a time for a top notch sales call plan, it’s in the interview process. So that’s why I ask for their sales call plan. If they haven’t thought enough to prepare for the most important sales call they could make, what are they going to do in their job for me? Are they going to prepare, are they going to be impactful?”

Source – Can You Show Me Your Plan For This Interview?


Brown HowardHoward Brown @howardbrown 

“Being able to pitch well doesn’t necessarily make a sales rep great. The best inside sales reps are terrific at listening to prospects’ pain points and understanding them before launching into a sales pitch. That means that often the best sales reps are the ones who talk the least. As a litmus test, see if reps just talk about themselves during an interview or if they ask questions and listen intently to your answers.”

Source – 5 Inside Sales Hiring Tips for Growing Companies


Calvert DebDeb Calvert @peoplefirstPS

“In hiring front-line sellers, organizations may flounder and fail when hiring practices are left up to a single department. Sales Managers frequently take short cuts. Recruiters and HR Business Partners often miss the mark because it’s challenging for them to assess selling skills. When selection responsibilities reside with one or the other department, costly mistakes are made.”

Source – Improve Your Sales Hiring with a Shared Selection Process


Caskey BillBill Caskey @billcaskey

“Sales vets who seize the power of the new technology are willing to adapt it for her use – get her on the phone. If a sales veteran has a track record of learning and adapting their skill set to the current reality, give them a chance.”

Source –Addressing a Prior Post On Hiring Seasoned Vets


Cohen ElayElay Cohen @elaycohen

“A great best practice I witnessed was making hiring a team sport. Have multiple members of a sales team interview a prospective new sales candidate. Give everyone on the team a role in the hiring process and an area to go deep and investigate.”


Farrington JonathanJonathan Farrington @topsalesworld

“The aim of the decision making process is to rank the candidates on the best balance of all the requirements. What is the best method of achieving this objective? Quite simply, straight overall comparison between candidates, the total score for the weighted profile and the results of any scientific assessment from psychometric tests.”

Source – How to Recruit and Select Successfully


Feigon JosianeJosiane Feigon @josianefeigon

“Finding good talent is getting harder – especially with the growing demands of the inside sales role. If you’re looking for your next sales superhero, then you need to be asking the right questions that get you deeper into the candidate’s character and reveal their secret identity.”

Source –25 Superhero Questions


Hunter MarkMark Hunter @thesaleshunter 

“Allow the candidate to control the conversation so that you can get a feel for their communication skills.  Ask open and general questions to see how the candidate volunteers information.   One item I’m looking for is not only the type of questions the candidate asks me as the interviewer, but also the number of questions they ask.  This reveals the level of pre-work they’ve done prior to the interview.”

Sources – The right Approach to Find the Right Salespeople


Keating SteveSteve Keating @leadtoday

“If your people feel, even a little bit, like they are merely the objects you use to build your own success then they will not commit to you or your organization. That’s why it’s so incredibly vital that you show them how important they are as people. Not only as employees, not only as “team members” but as individual people.”

Source – Ordinary Leadership Mistakes


Marsh BobBob Marsh  @bobmarsh5

“Social matters when recruiting and hiring. When a savvy sales manager goes to hire a salesperson, they’ll check the candidate’s social media channels to monitor activity. They’ll not only look at the quality of the content posted and the frequency of how often that person engages, but will also consider their influence.”

Source –What Has Changed in Sales? The Sales Manager


McCord PaulPaul Mccord @paul_mccord

“Recruiting top talent doesn’t happen overnight and doesn’t come easily—even for the top companies.  Unless you are willing to offer a phenomenal package, recruiting the top sales talent requires building relationships that lead to bringing the individual into your company.  Sometimes, when the employment gods are particularly kind, this process can be almost immediate.  More often, the process requires time, patience and effort.”

Source – Boost Your Sales: “Establish a Recruiting Program to Bring on Top Sales Talent” by Paul McCord


Ostrow PeterPeter Ostrow  @peterostrow

“Much as popular athletes and movie stars are often forgiven for bad behavior, superstar salespeople often seem immune to the professional standards to which the rest of us are held accountable. Is this the right way to manage our revenue stream? Does it optimize the customer’s experience?”

Source – Would You Fire a High Performing Sales Jerk?


Riggs KellyKelly Riggs @kellyriggs

“Struggling sales managers often develop three core beliefs, which, as it turns out, are really three big lies. 1) You can’t find good people. 2) I can improve our sales Performance by working harder, 3) I don’t have time for training. First off, there are plenty of good people out there; plenty of top-quality, high-performance candidates that could dramatically impact your team’s performance. However, you don’t have a process for identifying and hiring those players – or you wouldn’t recognize them if they glowed – so you never seem to hire great players.”

Source – Sales Managers’Three Big Lies


Krogue KenKen Krogue @kenkrogue

“Before you hire your first employee, identify a “success profile,” a list of characteristics that will make a successful part of your sales team. Hire only people that match your success profile.”


Schiffman StephanStephan Schiffman

“I have been working the best ways to recruit the best sales people for small to mid-sized companies, and have discovered in that effort why people do not stay even after they are hired, trained and begin working. Retention seems to be the biggest problem although it is usually blamed on the hiring process.  There are several factors sales people are faced with once the smaller company hires them. The new hire needs to deal effectively with these factors or they will not stay, so if you can find a way to overcome some of these you might be better off than trying a million hiring techniques.”

Source  – Sales Alert: How Do You Recruit the Best Sales People for Your Company?


Seley AnnekeAnneke Seley @annekeseley

“If you are building a new inside sales team or expanding an existing one, you know that recruiting good people can feel about as easy as qualifying for the Olympics. Given today’s challenging market for senior reps, it can take months of recruiting time to lure someone with this ideal background. You can spend the time, compete for the same reps as everyone else… or you can get creative. Consider this alternative: Hire a recent college graduate with a sales degree.”


Shore JeffJeff Shore @jeffshore

“Start recruiting before you need to hire. The time to look for new talent is long before you have a gaping hole in your organization. Look for new recruits as a part of your regular routine, not as the rare exception to the norm. This simple habit helps you avoid the dreadfully painful experience of hiring substandard talent because you ran out of time to properly recruit a rock star.”

Source  – 10 Steps for Hiring Your Next Rock Star


Wortmann CraigCraig Wortmann  @craigwortmann

“Hiring a professional salesperson too early is like pressing Go on a GPS without first entering an address. How can you expect someone to take you to your destination when you’re not even sure where you’re going yet? Entrepreneurs generally have good reasons for hiring professionals. They don’t like to sell themselves. They need time to work on the company. They figure professionals have special secret sales-guy moves. But if the product and the sales strategy are still in flux, a professional can do more harm than good.”

Source – Don’t Hire Salespeople Yet.


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Eliot Burdett

CEO at Peak Sales Recruiting
Before Peak, Eliot spent more than 20 years building and leading companies, where he took the lead in recruiting and managing high performance sales teams. He co-founded Ventrada Systems (mobile applications) and GlobalX (e-commerce software). He was also Vice President of Sales for PointShot Wireless.

Eliot received his B. Comm. from Carleton University and has been honored as a Top 40 Under 40 Award winner.

He co-authored Sales Recruiting 2.0, How to Find Top Performing Sales People, Fast and provides regular insights on sales team management and hiring on the Peak Sales Recruiting Blog.


Eliot Burdett

CEO at Peak Sales Recruiting

Before Peak, Eliot spent more than 20 years building and leading companies, where he took the lead in recruiting and managing high performance sales teams. He co-founded Ventrada Systems (mobile applications) and GlobalX (e-commerce software). He was also Vice President of Sales for PointShot Wireless. Eliot received his B. Comm. from Carleton University and has been honored as a Top 40 Under 40 Award winner. He co-authored Sales Recruiting 2.0, How to Find Top Performing Sales People, Fast and provides regular insights on sales team management and hiring on the Peak Sales Recruiting Blog.