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Finding a sales team, training them, and rebuilding client relationships are all difficult tasks. We need a defined process for sourcing, interviewing, and hiring a sales team.

How to Hire an Effective Sales Team


The sales team is the most important part of any organization. They sell the products and bring in the critical revenues. No organization can make progress without great salespeople. Salespeople are high performers who collaborate within the organization working with marketing, finance, and product development teams. When there is a turnover in the sales team, it is not easy to find replacements, train them and rebuild client relationships without affecting the business. You will need to have a defined process for sourcing, interviewing, and hiring a sales team.

Table of Contents

  • Create a sales hiring profile
  • Write a good job description
  • Screen for quality
  • Offer competitive compensation

Create a sales hiring profile

Identify what an ideal candidate for your sales team looks like including qualities like their skills, background and experience. To do this, you can look at the top sales performers in your organization and understand what makes them tick. Based on that you can evolve the profile of the candidate that you are looking for. The traits of the person would vary depending on the industry and the region you are operating in. However, some of the broad traits that you are looking for could be:

  • Soft skills: Ability to be coached, resourcefulness, attention to detail, hard work and perseverance, teamwork and communication.
  • Role focus: Whether you are looking for a sales development representative, business development representative or an account executive, make sure that the candidate has the skills required for the role.
  • Ensure that they have a fundamental understanding of the sales cycle.
  • Relevant industry work experience.
  • A track record in sales.
  • Good knowledge and command over technology.

Write a good job description

Once you have a good idea of the kind of candidate that you are looking for, it is now time to write a good job description. Instead of being plain and boring, a well-written job description can serve to attract the right kind of talent. Things to keep in mind when you write job descriptions for your sales positions:

  • The job description should be clear and concise and avoid jargon.
  • You must talk about the role, objectives and impact they will have on the job and how they will fit into the team.
  • You could talk about the culture and values of your company and highlight why it is important for them to be a part of this work culture.
  • Talk about the interview process that you follow so that candidates will know what to expect at the interview.
  • Detail the compensation and the benefits of the role.

Looking at the right sourcing channels

Putting the word out about the positions available and grabbing the attention of the right candidates is quite a challenge and it is important to use the right channels.

Job boards: You need to publish your job openings on various job boards like those on LinkedIn, Indeed and Glassdoor. There are tools like an application tracking system that can help you post jobs on multiple job boards at one go. You could also include a few sales-specific job boards and certain specific sites that cater to startups which are looking for young, motivated sales folks. 

Referrals: Employee referrals are a great way to find very good candidates for sales roles. You must have a good buddy referral program, with a good referral bonus thrown in, which can successfully bring in excellent candidates at a very low cost. You could also make your recruiting marketing materials accessible to your employees so that it is easily accessible to them.

Staffing agencies: When other channels are not bringing in the requisite candidates, it is good to try staffing agencies because they have a ready list of qualified and pre-screened candidates.

Screen for quality

Resumes are not a great reflection of the skills of a candidate because most people exaggerate their skills in a resume. Ideally, you can screen a candidate only in an interview but that would be a huge waste of time. You can do some effective pre-interview screening using intelligent questions in your application form which will throw greater light on the skills of the candidate. A simple way of doing this is to throw in some open-ended questions like “Why do you like sales?”, “What is your opinion about the latest trends in sales?”, and so on. This will give you a better idea of the candidate and reduce the time lost during interviews drastically. Your pre-interviews tests and assessments should be effective to help you filter the best candidates for the interview. Also look for candidates who have a good knowledge of data and those who can mine data for insights. Sales people who can work using technology can make a critical difference to your organization. Also check if they have experience in digital marketing skills because social selling is a key skill required today in sales.

Offer competitive compensation

Once the candidate has completed the interview rounds and made a mock demo or presentation, it is time to give them the offer. Don’t delay and ensure that you reach the offer within 72 hours of the final interview so that you do not lose out on a good candidate. Get a verbal confirmation first and then send a written offer with all the compensation details outlined. Ensure that there are incentives, bonuses and quarterly bonuses included in the offer so that the salespeople are more engaged. You could build in a variable pay system with bonuses thrown in to keep the salesperson motivated. Keep in mind the following points:

  • The ratio of the base pay and variable pay (including commissions, incentives and on target earnings).
  • Details of ESOPs.
  • Find out details of your competitor’s pay packages and keep that in mind while extending the offer.
  • Give the candidate a few days to accept the offer and be available should they have any questions


Companies must hire salespeople who collaborate with others, help customers, use analytics, and leverage social media. A lot of an organization’s success rides on the kind of salespeople that you hire. 

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