How is hiring sales people different from hiring for other positions?

Every successful business knows that it’s success rests squarely on the shoulders of its best sales people. Having a talented sales force can make or break an organization.  It stands to reason, then, that hiring the best and most qualified sales people is of critical importance.

However, most managers don’t relish the prospect of hiring. This is particularly true when it comes to hiring sales people.  Why is hiring sales people different? Well, because every candidate is a sales person!  Most will possess ample sales ability to impress an interviewer.  A sharp suit and polished resume, coupled with some caffeine and adrenaline can make any applicant look like a winner, even to an experienced sales manager (and their hiring records usually bear witness to this).

Furthermore, education and credentials seldom help in identifying great sales people. Hiring sales people is far different than hiring an engineer or accountant, whose skills are far more quantifiable. Talented sales people are more often born, than made and sales ability is an inextricable part of a salesperson’s DNA.

Some of the traits that will dictate a person’s success in sales include the following:

  • Ambitious and achievement oriented
  • Enjoy being challenged
  • Love to compete and need to win
  • Highly motivated by money (it is not just a stereotype)
  • Curiosity and eagerness to learn
  • Self-confidence
  • Persistence
  • Resilient and immune to rejection
  • Strong communication and especially listening skills

Mediocre sales people are a dime a dozen, especially in a lagging economy, when many are looking for work. Truly great sales people are few and far between, and finding them can be as difficult as finding the proverbial needle in the haystack. Should you be fortunate enough to find a top-shelf salesperson that would make a great employee, keep in mind that they will be in high demand, and must be sold on why working for one specific company is better than another.  This requires the interviewer to shift into the role of sales person, and know what will be most attractive to the right person.

Due to the complexities and challenges of hiring great sales people, it is easy to see why companies consistently turn to professional sales recruiters like Peak.


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.
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